Friday, July 06, 2007

July 4, 2007: Nut roast

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.

Nut roast

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
100g breadcrumbs
1 egg
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.


  1. you should check out the magical loaf maker here:

  2. Hurrah for nutloaf! I am glad you enjoyed it - both for dinner and the next day!

    I can see why you think it is too salty - I think I like the strong taste to give it the richness but I use promite which is a bit less salty than vegemite - I don't know how much you know about promite but it is both yeast and vegetable extract so has more flavour than promite - you could also try vecon.

  3. Kristy, now that I'm a convert I will have to give that a go. Can you recommend any favourite combinations of your own?

    Johanna, thanks for the info on yeast/vege extracts. I think the instant gravy added to the salt issue so there my be a couple variations before I get the salt level just right for my taste. :-)

  4. Nut roast is synonymous with English vegetarians for me. It was the meal for special times together. I'd never heard of it before then. It's years since I made one and never added stock or vegemite, just a little sea salt.

    As for the gravy, it was always miso based. If you want to get away from gravox maybe experiment with equal quantities of dark miso and tahini, then add hot water til you get the right consistency.

  5. AOF, I would never have thought to add tahini to a gravy recipe but I think I'd like it a lot. Thanks for that suggestion!

  6. Wow, this reminds me of something a housemate and I used to enjoy years ago. Will definitely be giving it a try!

  7. Anna, I hope it's a reasonable match to your happy memories of that dish. :-)

  8. I'd like to try this. You used 4 big flat mushrooms, not the little round ones, right?

  9. No, they are actually just 4 regular button mushrooms! I thought it didn't sound like much, and they don't add much texture to the loaf, but the flavour is definitely there.