We owe this lovely roast dinner to Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe. Last week she wrote about the family tradition of the roast dinner and the corresponding prevalence of nut roasts in older vegetarian cook books. A roast chicken dinner was certainly a part of my family life but with my one nut roast attempt last year ending badly, I had relegated my happy roast experiences to the past. However Johanna was so fervent in her devotion to the tradition, and to her nut roast recipe, that I decided to give it another shot. The result was nothing like my childhood chicken, but has at least as much flavour and comfort value. The small amount of mushrooms add a surprising depth of flavour to the tender roasted cashews and almonds. We ate the loaf with roasted potatoes, wilted baby spinach leaves and the ubiquitous gravy. The next day, it made an equally enjoyable lunch, sliced onto a sandwich with fresh spinach leaves.
Even a meal this satisfying can afford a few tweaks next time:
1. The vegemite is a bit strong and when I'm just using cheap stock cubes, the extra saltiness is unnecessary. Next time I'll skip it.
2. I'll try to resist those tempting smells and bake this for a bit longer. Although the crust was deliciously browned and slightly chewy, the centre was overly moist and needed very gentle handling to hold it together. The cooled leftovers were perfectly firm, however.
3. I used lazy, nasty old Gravox. It really is too salty, and there's plenty of time while the roast is baking to make up my free-form gravy recipe.
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
4 mushrooms, chopped finely
1 tomato, chopped finely
1 1/2 teaspoons wholemeal flour
150 mL vege stock
1 1/2 teaspoons vegemite (I'll skip it next time)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
100g ground cashews
50g ground almonds
Pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper and grease it generously.
Melt the butter in a medium-large saucepan and fry the onion until softened (5-10 minutes). Add the mushrooms and tomato to the saucepan and fry for a few more minutes, until the tomato begins to disintegrate. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well for a minute. Add the stock, bring to the boil until the mixture thickens. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the remaining ingredients, combining completely.
Carefully pour the mixture into the pan and level the top. Bake for 45-60 minutes - mine went in for an hour and might have benefited from 5-10 minutes more. It should be well-browned and a bit crisp on top. Pull it out of the pan, slice carefully, and serve with roast veges and gravy.