In many years as a vegetarian, I’d never encountered a nut roast before moving to the UK. The veggie food I cooked was Asian in influence, and – bean burgers aside – dishes that deliberately replicated meat were unknown to me.
British vegetarian food in the mid 90s seemed all about producing veggie versions of sausages, meat pies and roast dinners. And in this pre-Quorn era, the nut roast reigned supreme. Initially skeptical, I grew to appreciate the nut roast for its own merits – and not as a poor relation to the meat dish it was substituting for.
I have made many nut roasts over the years, and the recipe I’ve settled on is from the The Greens Cookbook by California author Deborah Madison. She calls it a cheese and nut loaf, but it’s a nut roast in all but name.
I find many of her recipes too involved for everyday cooking but it’s great for those occasions when you’re willing to make the extra effort.
I serve nut roast with all the usual roast dinner trimmings – roast potatoes and parsnips, gravy, slow-cooked red cabbage and buttered carrots.
Cheese and nut loaf
- 1 cup short grain brown rice
- 1 1/2 cups walnuts
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 Tb butter
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped finely
- 1/2 oz dried porcini, soaked for 20 minutes, drained and chopped
- 2 Tb parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- 1 Tb fresh marjoram, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1 tsp sage, chopped
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1 cup cottage cheese
- 9-12 oz cheese, grated (whatever you have on hand)
- salt and pepper
- Cook the brown rice in two cups of water. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spread the walnuts and cashews on a baking sheet and roast for 5-7 minutes. Cool, then chop finely.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium flame. Sauté the onion until softened.
- Add the garlic, fresh mushrooms, dried mushrooms and herbs. Increase the heat a bit and cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms has reduced.
- In a large bowl, mix together the rice, cooked vegetables, nuts, eggs, cottage cheese and grated cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375°F (185°C).
- Butter two 1-lb loaf tins and line with baking parchment. Fill with the mixture, then bake for about an hour until the loaf is firm and golden. Leave it to sit for ten minutes before removing it from the tin and slicing.