Juicy and Aromatic Nut Roast

I was a practising vegan of the evangelical and strict kind for nine years during the 1990s and way before it was hip. This is a variant of my vegan nut loaf recipe suitable for vegetarians, the type that eat eggs. Back then the availability of good vegan and veggie food was sparse, and it motivated me to try recipes from all over the world. Being a trained chemist cookery is just a scale up of kinds. I even contemplated opening a vegetarian restaurant.

Back then there was a tacit assumption that blokes, especially big hairy ones like me, were not vegan. Whenever I went to the vegan shoe shop in Brighton, the salespeople would turn to my then girlfriend first. The usually female staff were often surprised that the non-leather goods were for me.

Todays nut roast is motivated by the big pile of walnuts upstairs, they are the harvest from Autumn, and we have about ten kilos. We didn’t harvest the year before because I had bust my hip.

The amounts here are more than enough for two people.

For this you will need:

About 200g of mixed shelled nuts.

I am using 100g walnuts, 70g cashews and 30g pistachio kernels.

4 slices of wholemeal toast blitzed into breadcrumbs.

A finely chopped onion, I prefer red onions for this, they are sweeter.

A couple of cloves of garlic, finely diced.

One small courgette cut into “thick” one-inch long matchsticks.

One large carrot peeled and coarsely grated. {This is the secret ingredient}

Two heaped tablespoons of double concentrate tomato puree.

A glass of red wine.

A whole lemon from which you slice about half of the rind in “skin grafts” about 1mm thick and 2cm by 1 cm in dimension.

These are then chopped into fine matchsticks.

Some Olive Oil

Several heaped teaspoons of Herbes de Provence.

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper.

Two eggs whisked. I am using Breizh’on egg, eggs.

{This name is a little joke because it is the name of the Breton Language in Breton too. Needless to say they have not got many air miles to them.}

A loaf tin.

Some cooking paper to line the tin.

Method

Blitz the nuts so that there remains a mixture of textures. Add these to a large mixing bowl. Add about two thirds of your breadcrumbs. You are holding the rest back because you may need to judge the texture of the roast to be, by eye.

Place a good slurp of olive oil in a frying pan and bring it up to just above medium heat.

When it reaches this temperature add the onion and cook until it softens.

Now add the garlic, the courgette and the lemon.

Add the Herbes de Provence, stir well.

There should be enough oil so that you can see the herbs soaking it up, a bit.

Keep cooking until the courgette starts to soften and lose some of its whiteness. It should still be slightly firm.

Add all the contents of the frying pan to the nuts and breadcrumbs.  Mix well.

The mixture should look too dry by eye.

Add salt and pepper and the tomato puree.

It should be difficult to spread the tomato puree.

Showing masterful resistance take the glass of wine {without sipping any} and add it to the mixture.

It should mix in well and be reasonably easy to spread and flatten the top with a spatula.

Add the grated carrot and mix in.

Add the whipped eggs and mix well.

The texture should be firm and not too wet. If is too wet adjust by adding the extra breadcrumbs. If it looks a little too dry put a few more drops of wine in.

Spread the mixture out in a loaf tin, to the depth of about 6 cm. If you have mixture left, get another loaf tin and repeat.

Leave the mixture to stand covered in cling film for at least one hour.

When you are getting peckish, peel some spuds for roasties, clean some green beans, stick the oven on at 180 Celsius and chuck the roasties in first. They take about 80 mins.

Cook the roast in the lower part of the oven for around 40 mins. Testing it with a sharp knife from time to time.

Knock up some veggie gravy with butter, stock and flour, leave to simmer. If you want to you can add a dash of soy sauce, to taste. Cook the beans.

When the loaf is ready get it out of the oven, and let it stand for 5-10 mins before doing the inversion of death onto a chopping board. If it comes out in one piece you are a superhero in the making.

This loaf is ultra-filling. Go easy on the number of slices for service. You can always come back for seconds…

Enjoy!!