The annual nut roast has become a Christmas favourite in the home of food writer Diana Lampe. The vegetarians have a battle on their hands to retain their fair share now the carnivores have discovered how tasty it is.
Roast of nuts is the dish I make every year at Christmas time for the vegetarians in my family. They love it and really look forward to having it. It fits in well with a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings. I find the meat-eaters enjoy it too.
My recipe is based on the nut loaf recipes that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s. You can dress it up with extra nuts and herbs to make it look festive. The leftovers are also delicious when eaten cold.
Although the roast of nuts recipe has quite a few ingredients, it is not difficult to make. Most of the preparation can be done ahead of time. I usually prepare it, minus the eggs, a day or two beforehand and keep it in the fridge. On Christmas morning, I mix through the eggs, tip it into the tin and bake it. Alternatively you could make it a week or two before Christmas and freeze. Then defrost in the fridge overnight and bake before you plan to serve it.
Roast of nuts
- 250g raw mixed nuts of your choice (not peanuts)
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
- 1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 100g grated gruyere or vegetarian tasty cheese, grated
- 1-2 tbsp chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
- 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- extra toasted nuts and herbs for garnish
I like to use a mix of about five of the following – hazel nuts, Brazils, walnuts, almonds, macadamias, cashews and pecans. Instead of buying them separately you could use a packet of mixed unsalted raw nuts (no peanuts).
Spread the nuts out on a tray and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly coloured and fragrant. When cool, chop in the food processor until fairly well ground.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion for about ten minutes until soft. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato and seasoning. Tip the vegetables into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool.
Brush a loaf tin or terrine with oil or butter and line with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 160C fan or 180 regular.
Add the nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, nutmeg, seasoning and eggs to the vegetables and mix together. Tip mixture into the prepared tin or terrine and bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes before turning out. Garnish with extra toasted nuts and a bunch of the herbs used in the dish. Serve with vegetables and salads.