A proper homemade nut roast is a rather lovely thing to enjoy in this season. I was particularly inspired to make a nut roast by the Green Gourmet Giraffe, who is a great appreciator of nut roasts. I fully agree with her that nut roast isn't a dated veggie dish that should be avoided (it seems that some celebrity chefs have been bashing it publicly!), but a wonderful addition to vegetarian roast dinners or Christmas dinners. Have a look at the Green Gourmet Giraffe's blog for plenty of nut roast ideas and enthusiasm!
So I decided to make a nut roast of my own, an earthy chestnut roast with parsnips, porcinis and cheese, and served it with a wonderful shallot and cider gravy, cranberry jelly (see my recipe here) and simple roasted potatoes. This meal is a great Christmas main course, but you can also combine the components at will.
For the gravy:
50ml dry cider
1tbsp vegetable stock powder
50ml water (I used parsnip cooking water)
1tbsp soya sauce
Few fresh thyme leaves
Chop the shallots into half rings and sweat them at low heat for about 45 minutes by occasionally stirring. By then the shallots will have almost melted into a saucy texture. Then stir in the flour and the vegetable stock powder and add the cider. Cook for couple of minutes so that some of the cider evaporates and then add water (I used on this occasion the cooking water of the parsnips for the nut roast for a little bit of extra flavour). Let simmer for a while longer and season with soya sauce and thyme. And the gravy is done!
For the nut roast:
240g peeled and cooked chestnuts
2 garlic cloves
25g dried porcini mushrooms
2tbsp olive oil
100g emmental cheese
1tbsp soya sauce
Few fresh rosemary leaves
Peel the parsnips and chop them to about 2cm long pieces. Boil them in water until soft, and then mash them. Save some of the water from boiling to make the mash smooth. I also used this parsnip boiling water in the gravy.
Crush the dried porcini small and soak them for about 10 minutes. Also save the soaking water for later.
Peel the carrot and chop it into very small cubes. Then also chop the shallots and garlic cloves and grate the cheese (cheese can also be cubed).
Heat the olive oil in a pan and sweat the onion, garlic and carrot cubes for about 5 minutes. After the initial phase add the porcini mushrooms and their soaking liquid to cook it all for a further 5 minutes.
Season with rosemary and soya sauce. I used peeled and pre-cooked chestnuts that can be bought in a can or vacuum pack. Crush them between your fingers and add them to the mix.
Stir in the parsnip mash and cheese to make a moist, sticky mixture.
Grease either a large loaf tin or several small loaf tins (this recipe filled nicely four of my small round tins) and put the mixture in.
Bake the nut roasts at 180C for about one hour. Then remove them carefully from the tins and serve as a part of a vegetarian Christmas feast.