This Christmas, I searched for the perfect nut roast recipe, but couldn't find one that ticked all the boxes. It had to be a straightforward recipe which didn't contain dried fruit, could be dairy free, was packed with flavour and was moist - not dry. Nut roasts get such a bad press with people likening them to old cardboard, the likes of which are only enjoyed by seventies throwback hippy vegans. But that is just not true. Nut roast can be a delicious, wholesome accompaniment to roast dinner trimmings and is a very versatile base for a range of dishes.
Taking inspiration from a whole host of nut roast related ideas, I came up with my own recipe, which went down a storm on Christmas day, even with my non-veggie dad who couldn't get enough of the stuff. I also made it again in the week after Christmas for guests, as a wellington, wrapped in puff pastry and it was equally well received. It can be made in advance (and frozen before it is cooked), is pretty quick and easy to knock up and can be adapted to suit whatever ingredients/nuts/veggies you have, encouraging a bit of kitchen experimentation. You can make it vegan by omitting the egg and cheese, or by using a dairy free cheese alternative if wanted.
Lentil, Cashew and Chestnut Nut Roast
Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)
200g red lentils
450ml vegetable stock
1 tblspn oil
2 small parsnips
2 cloves garlic
2 slices wholemeal bread made into crumbs
100g cashew nuts
100g whole chestnuts
75g other nuts (I used Brazil nuts)
1 egg (optional - but makes loaf firmer)
1 teaspn garlic granules
1 teaspn sage
1 teaspn thyme
75g grated cheese (optional - you can also use non-dairy cheese)
Put red lentils and stock in a pan and cook gently until the lentils are soft, pale and pulpy and the liquid has evaporated.
Meanwhile put all the veggies in a food processor and blitz into small chunks.
Gently fry the blitzed veggies in a pan with olive oil for about 5-8 mins until just softened.
Chop the nuts and chestnuts in the processor. Process until fine or chunky depending on preference.
Mix together cooked lentils, cooked veggies, nuts, breadcrumbs and seasoning. (Season to taste...get adventurous if you like and use curry spices or smoky paprika with chilli flakes instead to make the nut roast exactly how you like it!)
Add egg and cheese if using.
Put into 2 loaf tins. I used oiled foil ones for ease.
Cook in a pre-heated oven at GM 5/190C for about 35 mins until cooked through and golden brown on top.
Turn out from the foil loaf tin and slice to serve with a veggie gravy and roast dinner trimmings.
Alternatively, omit the egg and put filling onto the centre of a rolled sheet of puff pasty. Join the edges of the pastry to seal in the filling, glaze (use a milk alternative to keep the recipe vegan) and cook at GM5/190C for about 30 minutes until golden brown.
The lentils make a really nice and very nutritious base for the nut roast while the carrot and parsnip add sweetness and a lighter texture. The seasonings can be adapted to suit personal preferences as can the nuts and veggies used. You can easily adapt it to make it suitable for dairy free diets or for vegans. I'm really happy with how my experimental Christmas dinner worked out and I hope that if anyone tries this recipe they enjoy it too.