If you are aiming to eat less meat – or don’t eat meat at all – a nut roast is an easy way to provide plant-based protein on your plate. Nut roasts are often associated with the hippies of the 1960s, but you still find them in many modern recipe books. They are a versatile dish, and benefit from all sorts of additions you might find in your fridge or pantry. All you really need is a food processor to do the work.
I tend to the make mini versions, rather than use a large loaf tin. Without egg to hold them together, a vegan nut roast can be a bit crumbly. Somehow it’s less of an issue if it’s already on the plate, but trying to cut large tidy slices or slabs can be difficult. You can use muffin tins if you don’t have a mini loaf tin.
Any favourite nut roast recipe can equally do duty as meatball replacements. So once you’ve got a family favourite, roll the mixture into balls and serve with a sauce. You can even crumble it to make spaghetti bolognaise or a lasagne style dish.
The flavour in this roast is subtle, so I serve it with a bright, tasty sauce, that takes two minutes to whip up in the blender. But it is also really good served with a mushroom gravy.
Parsnip Nut Roast
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ large red or white onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 230g cashew nuts
- 3 slices of wholemeal bread
- 230g mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 4 Tbsp water
- 3 medium parsnips
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
- 150ml mushroom stock
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
Peel and cook the parsnips in boiling water until they are soft. Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 190°C. Spray the tin generously with oil, and put a strip of baking paper along the bottom of each tin, with enough extra length for you to lift the nut roasts out easily.
Heat a frypan and sautéthe chopped onion in the olive oil until the pieces are transparent. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for another five minutes, until the mushrooms are soft.
Mix the flaxseed with the water and whisk until gloopy. (This is your egg replacement.) Add more water if it goes solid like porridge.
Put your cashews into the food processor and pulse until they are coarse crumbs. Break the bread into pieces and add to the processor, pulsing till the mixture looks like crumbs. Tip this into a large bowl.
Put your cooked parsnips into the food processor and whizz until fluffy and mashed. Add to the bowl of crumbs, together with the cooked onion, garlic and mushrooms, the flaxseed mixture, the rosemary, stock, soy sauce, salt and pepper.
Mix well, so all the ingredients are well combined. Use a tablespoon to fill each of the mini loaf tins, pressing down well and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds if desired, or grated cheese if you are a cheese lover.
Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until golden on top and firm to touch. Leave in the tins for a few minutes then lift out carefully and cool on a rack if not serving immediately. You may need to run a knife along the sides to loosen the roasts, as sometimes they will stick, despite your best efforts.
Makes 8 mini roasts.
Notes: If you don’t have mushroom stock, put a teaspoon of marmite or vegemite in a cup and add ½ cup of boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
Chunky Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Sauce
- 2 roasted red peppers
- 3 tsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp tomato sauce
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- ½ tsp black pepper
- salt to taste
Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend till combined in a glorious, chunky sauce consistency. Heat gently in a saucepan or in the microwave.
Carol Garden is a writer who likes to explore healthy, interesting food ideas. She has worked as a caterer, vegan chef, journalist and public relations consultant.
To contact Carol, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org