Stuffed nut roast

It’s day 8 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent Calendar, into the second week already. I hope you are enjoying the posts and feeling inspired to try something new this Christmas period.

If you’re new to whole-food plant-based eating you may be wondering what in the world you are going to eat for the big event – Christmas dinner. There are various pre-prepared and fake meat options available to buy, but to be honest none of them taste quite as good, or are quite as cheap, as making your own.

If you want to try something different, Christmas chestnut tartlets are really delicious. But if you want to stick to something more mainstream, then nut roast is your answer. I already have a simple nut roast on the blog from a few years ago. This one today is a slightly different take on that; still simple and definitely delicious.

Now you may have noticed that I’m not one for using things that come in a packet. Having food sensitivities means that most products are not an option. Rather surprisingly, stuffing is one that I can eat, or at least some brands are ok. And I’ve never quite worked out how to make my own that tastes right, so it’s good to have something to fall back on.

Most standard stuffing mixes like Paxo contain wheat, so if you are intolerant to wheat or gluten, it’s be to go for specific gluten-free options like Mrs Crimbles. Also, if you avoid fats like palm oil, then beware of some supermarket brands as they tend to be on the ingredients list. Again, Mrs Crimbles might be the option here as there’s no added refined oils.

Even so, any stuffing mix is not exactly packed with lovely nutrients – most of them have been lost in the processing. But if you’re anything like me, the rest of the meal is a rainbow array of veggies and whole ingredients.  A small amount of stuffing wont’s cause too much harm in the big scheme of things (unless that’s all you eat – then there’s other problems!).

What the stuffing does add is additional flavour and texture, breaking up the nut roast a bit and just making it a bit more interesting and festive. Bake it long enough for the oils in the nuts to help create a lovely crust on the outside whilst remaining soft on the inside. I’ve found that this nut roast goes down well with non-veggie family and friends which is a big plus. 

So if you’re planning on serving a nut roast this Christmas, why not give this one a go? And if you do, don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Stuffed nut roast (serves 6)

  • 200g mixed nuts (I used brazil, cashew and almond)
  • 170g pack stuffing mix (gluten-free if needed)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 medium leek, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs
  • 2 tablespoon tamari or 1 teaspoon marmite
  • 50g oats (gluten-free if needed)
  • salt and pepper

Place the nuts in a food processor and grind so the nuts are finely chopped. Try to avoid over-grinding to a powder as you want a little texture without big chunks of nut. Make up the stuffing mix with the correct amount of  boiling water stated on the box. Do not add any oil or dairy-free spread. Mix well and leave to one side to firm up.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of water in the base of a medium-sized saucepan and sauté the onion, leek and carrot with the bay leaf for 10 minutes with the lid on to retain the moisture. Stir regularly to makes sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a little more water and drop in the garlic and mixed herbs. Stir well and cook for another minute.

Stir in the chopped nuts, tamari or marmite and oats. Mix well, adding a little water if needed to help combine. Simmer for 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently so the mix doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Season with salt and pepper and turn off the heat.

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin with olive oil. Spoon half the nut mixture into the base of the tin, pressing down well in the corners. Spread the stuffing mix over the top then finish off with the remaining nut mix. Make sure you spread out each layer well to get a good spread. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and it feels firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Slide a knife around the outside of the nut roast to loosen it from the tin and carefully turn the tin over onto a chopping board. Tap the bottom of the tin and ease out the loaf. Leave to cool for another couple of minutes then cut into slices and serve.

 

 

 

 

Planning Christmas dinner

Since my last post at the beginning of the month, I’ve moved continents!. The weather outside the window has changed from blue skies and 28 degrees to grey, cold and raining. Oh yes, I’m back in England! But to make up for the weather, it is Christmas time, and for the first time in 3 years it actually feels festive, with decorations in every home, the shops bulging with gifts and seasonal food and Christmas songs constantly played on the radio.

Now the jet lag has worn off, the present shopping is complete and we have an idea of where we are going to live, my attention is turning to food, particularly Christmas Day. Being dairy and yeast intolerant is hard at this time of year – all the mince pies are made with butter pastry, Christmas cake includes dairy and the brandy butter that melts so enticingly on top of the steaming Christmas pud is a non-starter! Then there’s bread sauce and stuffing which I love, but certainly don’t love me! This year I’ve made it even more complicated by eradicating meat from my diet too, so no traditional turkey either.

All is not lost, however. There’s still the roasted parsnips, potatoes and other veg. And being back in the UK, alternatives are more easily available in the shops. This though, is a bit of dilemma. Meat alternatives can be a bit gross to be honest, and tend to be full of a long list of fake ingredients and chemicals that don’t sit well in a wholefood diet. So it’s a nut roast for me, filled with brazil nuts and hazelnuts for a festive flavour which won’t over power all the delicious veg on offer.

By the way, brazil nuts are packed with nutrition. Unfortunately for some, they are also the second most common for nut allergies after peanuts. But if you’re safe to eat them, they are fabulous for health, eaten in moderation of course. Whilst fairly high in fat, they are monounsaturated, so help deal with ‘bad’ cholesterol. They also have good levels of vitamin E, vitamin B’s and selenium, a mineral that acts as a powerful anti oxidant. There’s also a mix of other minerals such as manganese, potassium, calcium, iron and zinc, all wonderful for your health and your skin.

This nut roast recipe is easy and tasty. It does use bread crumbs – in the past I have either used Orgran rice crumbs or whizzed up a tortilla wrap which works but gives a different texture. This year I am going to experiment with using quinoa instead. Using this and chickpea flour instead of wheat flour, this can become a gluten free recipe too. Now what sauce to put with it………

Normal nut roast
1 onion finely chopped
1 tbspoon vegetable oil
2 tomatoes skinned and chopped
30g flour (wheat, corn or chickpea)
140mls water
1 tbspoon soy sauce/tamari
230g nuts (brazil and hazelnut in mine) finely chopped or ground
85g breadcrumbs or bread alternative
1 tsp mixed herbs
Heat the oil in a pan and saute the onion until it’s tender. Add the chopped tomatoes, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes or so until pulpy. Stir in the flour, add the water slowly whilst stirring constantly to prevent lumps forming. Once it’s all mixed in, turn off the heat. Add all the other ingredients, mixing together thoroughly and place in a lightly greased bread tin. Bake at 180o C for 45 minutes or so until it’s firm and crusty on top. Leaving to cool slightly in the tin, then turn out on to a plate and enjoy with all the Christmas trimmings and a glass of something bubbly!