Nut Roast Extraordinaire

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The first nut roast I ever made–or ever tasted–was for the romantic Valentine’s Day dinner I cooked up for the HH and me this year. Well, let me tell you, the specific holiday notwithstanding, it was definitely love at first bite (of the nut roast, that is–shame on you for thinking otherwise!  Besides, after eleven years, love for the HH had already been firmly established; no biting there for some time, now). 

And now, Johanna from Green Gourmet Giraffe has decided to host a blogging event, A Neb at Nut Roast, to honor that venerable dish of nuts, veggies, and spices; that meal-in-a-brick; that loaf to beat all loaves: the Nut Roast!  As soon as I read about it, I knew I had to come up with something extra special.

When I first baked up the Valentine’s Day roast, I dutifully followed Johanna’s original recipe; and while it was delicious, that wouldn’t do on this occasion. As I concocted my recipe for a main course consisting primarily of nuts, I felt quite vindicated by the process.  You see, in recent years, I’ve been told countless times by friends and family alike that my atypical dietary habits are, in their opinion, a little nutty. Finally, I can confirm that they are, indeed, correct in their assessment. 

It seems some of my friends and family just can’t get past the fact that I don’t want to eat anything from fast-food restaurants any more, or that I don’t want to use little packets of “seasoning mix” for my salad dressings, or that I don’t want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies these days (Oooh.  Scratch that last one.  I really, really DO want to pig out on May Wests and Twinkies, but just can’t because (a) they spark a sugar-high gorgefest, in which I consume more in one sitting than any human should eat of them in a lifetime; (b) they cause me to me feel woozy (as opposed to tipsy, which can be pretty nice, come to think of it) and unwell; and (c) they are able to stay “fresh” for unnaturally long periods of time–say, 17 years–making me wonder whether they are animal, vegetable, or miracle-gro.)

I’m sure most vegans have shared this experience:  you’re invited to a big bash–some kind of holiday dinner, rite of passage affair (such as a wedding or bar mitzvah), or any other festive event.  The host(ess) acknowledges your “bizarre” dietary preferences and even makes a genuine attempt to accommodate.  When the rest of the gang sits down to a four-course dinner of pâte en croûte, oxtail soup, bacon, shrimp and scallops Bordelaise, and Wasabi Beef Wellington, you are the lucky recipient of a plate heaped with steamed broccoli, carrots, cauliflower and green beans. Oh, and if you’re lucky, a white dinner roll. (Well, at least it wasn’t a paper plate).

Okay, rewind and play that scene again, only this time omit wheat from the picture.  Not even the skimpy little roll, this time!  So despite my friends’ best efforts, I rarely get to socialize with them over dinner these days. (I do have to commend them for effort, though. )

This nut roast just may upset the status quo, however.  It’s a toothsome, meaty and hearty dish that can be enjoyed by virtually anyone.  For omnivores, it offers an appetizing flavor in a package resembling meat loaf.  For vegetarians and vegans, it offers a mouth-watering serving of protein that will leave you satiated. In fact, it was so tasty, so hefty and satisfying, that the HH, a tried-and-true carnivore, enjoyed it immensely and asked for seconds. I found it even more appealing the second day, after the flavors had melded and developed a bit.

Before cooking up the loaf, I began by leafing through my various cookbooks from the UK and Australia (since nut roasts seem to be much more prevalent there–we tend to favor patties and burgers over here in North America), just to see what the generic ingredients tend to be. As Johanna noted, most nut roasts contain a combination of nuts (duh), breadcrumbs or flour, and, most often, eggs and/or cheese. 

nutroastmeal.jpg Since eggs and dairy are out for me, I realized I was setting myself a tougher challenge than first anticipated.  What the heck, I decided, why not go whole hog (“whole tofu”?) and make it even harder–why not attempt to create a delectable, enticing, egg-free, dairy-free and GLUTEN-FREE nut roast?  Why not, indeed?!

Okay, so I was feeling a little nutty myself by that point (which, truth be told, is not that rare an occurrence). My head still reeling, I set to chopping (carefully) and processing (attentively).

If I thought I liked nut roast before, I have now developed eternal, till-death-do-us-part, adoration. This oblong object of my undying affection was robust, with a perfect combination of savory, herbed, and “meaty” tastes in a dense, slightly grainy and moist loaf with a crisped exterior.  Solid without being stiff, it easily maintained its shape when sliced; and the flavors were much enhanced by an evening in the fridge. 

I imagine you could also shape this into patties and use it for burgers if you were so inclined. We ate it with a simple kale salad, but you could, of course, serve it with the more conventional mashed potatoes and gravy for a divine meal–one you’d be comfortable sharing with just about anyone, no matter what their dietary preferences.

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Comments

  1. I’m quite envious at how gorgeous and firm your nut-roast looks – every time I try to make one, it crumbles!! Makes a great burrito filling, haha :0D

  2. So much mushroomy goodness in there! Inspired by Johanna’s event, I experienced nut roast for the first time only recently. I made mine with puff pastry, but I’m curious to try one just like yours.

  3. I have had success with only a couple of meatloaves. I haven’t tried a nut version, but Ricki I need a shroom free loaf! Could you sub in an equal amount of beans? Actually I can eat shrooms, but my son won’t and I really shouldn’t eat an entire loaf myself!

  4. It looks beautiful, but is not truly gluten free if it involves oats and bread.

  5. your life will never be the same again now you have discovered nut roast! I know there are brits who complain about the dreaded nut cutlet but my experience of the nut roast makes me wonder why vegetarians (and vegans) get such boring and inappropriate meals when everyone else feasts on a gourmet dinner – my gripe is the same old stir fry or pasta while everyone else is having something wonderfully innovative. You nut roast looks wonderful and I love the addition of wine!

    • Bit confused about you statement that brits complain about nut roast when it is part of every vegans diet I know and I have quite a large circle of freinds both at work and at home. We use it as above or for special occasions we make a wholemeal shortcrust pastry filled with nut roast and have it with roasted root vegetables and either rainbow salad (thi, apple and beetroot)with s simple home made french dressing. Or with a tomato and mushroom gravy.

      Jo-Ann

      • Thanks, Jo-Ann! I’m not sure where you see that comment. . . as far as I can tell, I didn’t say anywhere that Brits complain about nut roast! ;) The idea of enclosing it in pastry is a brilliant one–I think I must try that. :)

        • hi ricki – I think Jo-Ann means my comment, not your post – and I had to think back a few years to where the comment about brits came from – I give a few examples in the Neb at Nutroast post that you link to in your post – Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson and the Observer all make snide remarks about nut roast or nut cutlets so that is the sort of Brits I refer to – I know that many love to eat it – but it has got a sort of reputation as boring dry veg food too!

          • Ah! I did look through the comments but didn’t notice you’d said anything negative. . . no worries. We all love nutroast! :)

  6. Veggie Girl,
    Oh, many a nut roast fell apart before I devised this recipe, don’t worry! I like the burrito idea, or you can always make breakfast crepes ! ;)

  7. Lisa,
    I noticed your own nutroast post (hey! a little poem there!) and thought how similar they were with all those mushrooms! I thought yours looked very elegant with the puff pastry.

    atxvegn,
    I’m not sure how beans would work, as they’re quite dry and mushies are quite moist. The closest thing I can think of that would add a meaty flavor AND moistness is roasted eggplant–might be an interesting experiment!

    … ,
    I believe this nutroast actually still is gluten-free, even with the bread and oats. I used a gluten-free buckwheat bread, and, from what I understand, oats are now considered gluten-free (if uncontaminated by wheat or other gluten products.) Any GF eaters or celiacs out there who want to corroborate this?
    (As an example, take a look here .

    Johanna,
    I know what you mean–I feel I could eat nut roast almost daily (oh, the possibilities. . .!). Glad you liked this one!

  8. Why this looks absolutely fascinating. I never heard of a nut roast before, thank you for the great information and for sharing this most unique and appealing dish!

  9. Yum, Ricki! It’s going on my list of foods to try. :D

  10. A gluten-free, dairy-free nut roast? Ricki, you are my hero!

    I can’t wait to make it.

  11. YUM! YUM! YUM!

    (I esp. love that its gluten free!) cant wait to make it!

  12. Wow what a stunning meal!

  13. Jj,
    Thanks for your comment, and for visiting! This was a new experience for me, too, but I absolutely loved it. Always nice to try something different!

    Sally,
    Thanks! Hope you like it. :)

    Lizzie,
    Wow, thanks! (Does this mean I have to wear a cape next time I cook it?) ;)

    Happy Herbivore,
    I felt the same way (triple yum). Hope you like it!

    Jessica,
    Thanks for your comment–it’s much appreciated! And I must admit, we really did enjoy it :) .

  14. “whole tofu”—I love it! I’ve definitely been in the situation you described in your post… except I am usually not even lucky enough to get steamed veggies. No, around here, people only think of one thing that they can serve to vegans—iceberg salad!

    Thanks to Healthy Herbivore, I’ve been eating vegan roast quite often lately. Your version sounds delicious and filling; I’ll have to give it a go.

    And I cannot thank you enough for the amazingly wonderful comment you left on my blog. You are a genuinely sweet person, and the world would benefit from having more people like you.

  15. Wow, I’ve got to try this recipe. My only question is about the flaxseeds (I’m not a fan of their flavor). Does this roast taste particularly flaxseedy? It looks beautiful!

  16. Yes, way more delectable (and digestible) than mine. And cilantro, too.

    Delish, darls, just delish.

  17. Nut roasts were one of the first vegetarian foods I learned to make more years ago than I want to mention. Sometimes they had lentils and other times mushrooms. I’d forgotten all about these delectable treats until I saw your post. Yours looks excellent and succulent and I can’t wait to try it. I used to love having leftover nut roast for sandwiches the next day. Perfect with a little dijon…

  18. CCV,

    Oh, poor you–iceberg! Though I guess it’s sort of in fashion, these days. And thanks for your own touching comment–but you know, I calls ‘em as I sees ‘em! :)

    Monika,
    I don’t taste the flax at all–I used the seeds primarily as a binder so the loaf wouldn’t crumble apart. If you’re wary of the seeds, try it without–it just might not hold together quite as well.

    Lucy,
    As much as I liked this one, I’m sure yours was delish, too. . . each nut roast has its own unique charms, no?

    Andrea Z,
    Lentils sound like a great addition, too. But I love your use of “succulent”–yes, that’s exactly what it was! We couldn’t stop eating it. And sandwiches with dijon sound marvelous. Next time, when I have leftovers!

  19. Very well done! Your loaf looks very “meaty” which Is appealing in this type of dish. I like the dense texture as it must surely be a very satisfying meal.

  20. This nutloaf was great! I’ve actually written about trying your recipe in my blog here (in case you’re curious to see), but just wanted to let you know that it was tasty and I’m very glad you shared it! It was not bad to use as a first time recipe. :o)

  21. I made this for Christmas and it turned out PERFECTLY! Very delicious!!! thanks!

  22. We’re not fans of mushrooms in our house, so I substituted an equal amount of canned beans – my husband likes lentils and I prefer the larger butter beans that look a little like button mushrooms in the mix. By using canned beans they’re already well cooked to the point of having a cooked mushroom consistency.

    We love the loaf and will be doing it for Thanksgiving. It helps us to go to family turkey dinner events and not force them to make a separate meal for us.

  23. An answer about Gluten Free…

    Buckwheat and Oats are Gluten free. However…
    With any product, cross-contamination is always a concern. Knowing your source is key. Any company that specialized in GF is your best bet for breads and oats. What makes a gluten free source contain gluten is the way in which it is handled, transported, and processed. Some companies share equipment between the GF and non-GF products, in effect making their GF products, not very GF. As of November 26, 2010 Quaker Oats is NOT what I would consider GF as they can be cross-contaminated in transportation with wheat. See companies website for update.

    Some companies test their products to be sure that they do not contain more than 200 parts per million of gluten. Personally, I prefer 0 – 10 parts per million because gluten attacks the intestine and creates a hole, that in turn causes malabsorption of vitamins and minerals.

    Who am I? I am a self-taught dietician due to my own food allergies and lack of a suitable dietician in my area. My allergies (short list): Cabbage & Radish family, Lily family (except Asparagus), Meat, Poultry, Shellfish, cinnamon, celery, gluten and Cream of Tarter. May I recommend more Vegetarians/Vegans go to school to become Dieticians? :D

    (Not an advertisement, just a heads up: Website is a WIP that when ‘more done’ will feature recipes suitable for a wide range of food allergies and sensitivities, including GF, DF, EF, NF, “top 8″, Onion Free, Vegan, Vegetarian and lots more. I hope to have many recipes up by January 1, 2010, but it is slow going).

  24. Hi,
    just want to say that I found your nut roast recipe yesterday and tried it….wow! this is the best nut roast I’ve ever tried! It was so succulent and tasty. I did not have flax seeds but I used pumkin seeds, I was worried about it not holding firm so, as I am not on a GF diet I added an egg to bind it together and it worked very well.
    Thank you for the recipe, it will stay in my “favourites” folder and be used again and again.

  25. Ana Botto says:

    hi! uhm would it be possible to replace the cashews with pine nuts?

    • Hi Ana,
      I don’t see any reason why not, as long as you understand that the taste and texture will change somewhat. Let me know how it turns out! :)

  26. Thank you so much – I’d not tried nut loaf before and was ‘forced’ to by the visit of a vegie friend. I googled to try to find one that suited my diet and arrived here. Absolutely gorgeous…sliced perfectly and went really nicely with traditional roast dinner fare.

    • Stephen, I can’t tell you how happy that comment made me!! I am so glad you enjoyed it and that it was a hit with the rest of the dinner. Yay! :D

      • Not only was it a hit with dinner, more has disappeared this evening, so the popularity is definitely not waning! I just hope there’s enough left for my lunch tomorrow…

        Thank you again, it really was a great recipe (and thank you for including the gram measurements – it made things a lot easier for a poor brit!) :)

  27. Hi… I don’t have any wheat-free bread to hand but I’m going to try with ‘cornflake crumbs’ and some oats/ oatmeal and hope that works as I’m cooking it for my mum’s friend who is over this evening… also going to put in a bit of leek to see what happens, I’ll let you know how it works out! Just realised we don’t have a loaf tin either so this could be very interesting…

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] that wasn’t on my menu last week. FoodsCo had mushrooms on sale, so I picked some up and made Ricki’s fantastic nut roast, which I’ve been eating in sandwiches all week on a new kind of vegan, GF sandwich bread I [...]

  4. [...] when I think of Thanksgiving, I think of rich, dense, and toothsome nut roasts, savory pies, casseroles and other labor-intensive, slow-cooking main courses. I think of rich, [...]

  5. […] struggles with this issue (David doesn’t) and I absolutely recommend this loaf (recipe here) for vegans and non-vegans alike.  The only change I made to the recipe was that I used walnuts […]

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