Have you decided what you are having for Christmas dinner yet? Or maybe you have the dubious pleasure of coming up with something creative for a vegan guest! Try this flavoursome dish which has “can be prepared in advance” written all over it and actually tastes better on its second or third day.
Nut loaf used to be the classic Christmas vegan/vegetarian dish when I was a kid and garnered a bit of a jokey reputation as it seemed to be the only option for non-meat eaters. Whilst I am grateful we’ve moved on since then, I do love a good nut roast and have re-hashed this one with mushrooms and tarragon – a winning combination. It’s beautifully moist thanks to choc-loads of mushrooms – a far cry from those dried out bricks that some of us may have been all-too-familiar with in the past…
Nut wise, go for whatever you like. I think hazelnuts and chestnuts have a particular affinity with mushrooms but I also love the sweetness of almonds, the texture of macadamias, pistachios…just because! So the last couple of times I made this I used a packet of mixed nuts.
If you have any leftover wine – red or white – slosh it in. The same goes with fortified wine – such as sherry or port – which adds a beautiful richness.
You will need a baking vessel measuring roughly 20 cm x 10 cm with a height of around 8 cm. A loaf tin is ideal.
Ingredients (4-6 servings)
250g nuts of your choice
Oil for frying/greasing
2 onions – diced
2-3 garlic cloves – finely chopped/crushed
500g mushrooms – sliced
½ tin of tomatoes
2-3 tablespoons wine/sherry/port
1 bag of tarragon -shredded/finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Preheat oven 200 (fan)/220 conventional – to toast the nuts
Preheat oven 160 (fan)/180 conventional – to cook the nut roast
- Put the nuts onto a baking dish/tin and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes until starting to turn golden. Give them a shake half way through to ensure even roasting. Leave to one side to cool.
- Fry the onions in a couple of teaspoons of oil until translucent. Throw in the garlic and cook for another few minutes before adding in the chopped mushrooms.
- Let the onions and mushrooms gently cook together for about 5 minutes then slop in the tinned tomatoes, mashing the fruit in the saucepan with your wooden spoon. Pour in the wine if using.
- Simmer this mixture for about 10 minutes, allowing it to thicken as some of the mushroom and tomato juices evaporate. Stir regularly to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Meanwhile, pop the nuts into a freezer bag and bash with a heavy object to break them up into a crumble/smaller pieces. Alternatively, you can give them a couple of pulses in a food processor – we’re going for roughly chopped here rather than crumbs.
- Tip the nuts into the mushroom mix, along with the chopped tarragon. Taste and season accordingly.
- Pour the mixture into the greased baking tin and oven bake for around 45 minutes until firm.