When it comes to Christmas dinner, for me, nothing can beat a Nut Roast served with a big pile of roasted veggies and red onion gravy ♥
My mum served my first nut roast Christmas dinner when I was about 12 and it was by far the best Christmas dinner I’d ever had! In contrast to turkey (which I’d always found pretty bland), the nut roast was packed with beautiful flavours and textures.
Since then, I’ve always chosen to have a Nut Loaf as the centre piece of my Christmas dinner. For many years now, my mum has chosen it over the turkey too!
Pretty much everyone I know loves nut roast, regardless of whether they’re vegetarian or not, so this is a great dish to serve to friends and family over the festive holidays, or as a special Sunday roast dinner.
Nut loaves are really easy to make and, since they store so well, they can be made way in advance. On the day, when the roasted veggies are nearly ready, simply heat up some slices of the nut loaf in the oven or microwave.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with different combinations of nuts, lentils and veggies in our loaves and, today, I’d love to share the recipe for one of our all-time favourites – Red Lentil and Cashew Nut Loaf with Cranberry Glaze. While some people add fresh cranberries into the festive nut loaves, I like to ‘dress up’ the loaf for Christmas by giving it a shiny, red topping. It not only looks pretty, but it tastes yummy too 😉
Here’s how I make it…
Hands on time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 75 minutes
Ready in: 1 hr 50 minutes
(This loaf can easily be made in advance and stores very well).
225g / 1½ cups cashew nuts, coarsely chopped
125g / 4½ oz wholemeal bread or 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
200g / 1 cup red lentils
500ml / 2 cups vegetable stock
1 TBSP olive oil
1 large red onion (160g), finely diced
2 celery sticks (140g), finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
100g / 1 cup mushrooms, finely diced
1 tsp dried sage
2 TBSP tomato purée
40g / 1/3 cup wholemeal (wholewheat) flour
2-3 TBSP fresh parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp salt
1 TBSP each of pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
4 TBSP cranberry sauce
Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan) / 375F.
Grease a large (3lb) loaf pan (24cm x 13cm x 7cm / 9½” x 5″ x 3″ in size) and line with a strip of non-stick baking paper to cover the bottom and long sides. Leave a little excess paper hanging out to make it easy for you to lift out the cooked loaf. (Alternatively you can use a non stick loaf liner).
Pulse the cashews in a food processor until coarsely chopped, then place in a large mixing bowl. Process the bread into breadcrumbs, then add to the mixing bowl.
Place the lentils in a sieve and wash under running water until the water runs clear. In a saucepan, bring the stock and lentils to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the lentils have become a soft purée and all the water has been absorbed. Stir regularly towards the end of the cooking time to prevent the lentils from sticking. Once cooked, set to one side.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan (skillet) and cook the onion and celery until they start to soften. Add the garlic, mushrooms and sage, and cook for a further 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée and flour, then remove from the heat.
Add the onion mixture, lentils, parsley and salt to the mixing bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Gently press down and level the top. Sprinkle with pine nuts and seeds, and press them into the loaf. Spread the cranberry sauce on top. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes.
Leave to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before turning out and slicing (it will firm up as it cools). If you’re making it ahead of time, you can leave it in the pan until completely cooled.
This loaf will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and for weeks in the freezer. If you’re not planning on eating the loaf in all one go, you can slice it and freeze it in portions.
[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend]
If you have any nut loaf left over, I highly recommend stuffing a slice or two into a sandwich or pitta, along with some caramelised onion chutney or pickle. This is one of my all-time favourite sandwich fillings!