I know there are a lot of Marmite-style love / hate feelings about nut roast in the vegetarian community. But so far as I’m concerned classic dishes never go out of fashion, and good nut roast is as classic as they come. For me a good nut roast has to be both firm but moist, as well as holding it’s shape and slicing nice and cleanly. This recipe (which I’ve adapted from HERE) works well on all fronts. I also like a nut roast to deliver distinctive flavours, and here I’ve included a robust trinity of fruity, herby and spicy elements in the form of cranberries, rosemary and chilli. Brought together these ingredients compliment each other very much like a perfect winter chutney against the savoury nut meat base.
As ever in the Penniless kitchen, I look to employ the most affordable ingredients available, and so the cashews I’ve used are from the generic supermarket ‘basics’ range which – at ASDA at least – come in at under half the price of the regular kind. Just pop them in a sieve and give a quick rinse under the tap to remove the added salt, then gently shake off the excess moisture in a clean tea towel before chopping. An added bonus to supermarket ‘basics’ cashews are that they come ready toasted, so there’s no need to go through that stage of preparation yourself.
Further to frugality, I always cook with herbs harvested from my own garden. As a woody perennial evergreen, rosemary is a stalwart herb which continues to provide colour for the garden and flavour for the kitchen throughout the winter months. If you have a bit of space outside, rosemary is a great evergreen shrub to plant and just like many herbs, it asks for very little and gives a lot.
The fresh chillies I’ve been cooking with this year I’ve also harvested from my own plants. I’d encourage anyone who enjoys the pungent zing of fresh chillies, to try growing them. It’s absolutely worth the small outlay for a packet of seeds. If looked after and kept in a warm bright location, they will even keep providing you with fresh chillies right into the winter. The aptly named variety ‘Prairie Fire’ provides an abundance of fiery little chillies that pack a proper punch. The plants are attractive and compact, and as such ideal for growing indoors on a sunny windowsill. A pack of seeds can be got for just 75p from my favourite bargain seed supplier ‘More Veg’ HERE; what’s more many people even include these festive looking little red and green pot plants in their Xmas table decorations.
Serve this nut roast thickly sliced with all your favourite trimmings. For me that means a big pile of braised red cabbage. Roast potatoes cooked to a golden toffee-like crunch are also essential. For something green, lightly steamed broccoli florets served with an optional creamy blue cheese sauce. And last but not least, rich onion gravy to pour over everything.
Cashew Nut Roast with Cranberries, Red Chilli and Rosemary – vegan
- 80 g / 3 oz dried cranberries
- 80 ml / 3 fl oz hot water
- 225 g / 8 oz cashews, toasted and roughly processed
- 170 g / 6 oz breadcrumbs
- 2 dssp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 – 4 small hot red chillies, finely chopped
- 80 g / 3 oz flour
- 200 ml / 7 fl oz light vegetable stock (I use 3 tsp Marigold bouillon powder)
- Preheat the oven to 190C / Gas 5. Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
- Put the cranberries into a cup and add the hot water, set aside to soak.
- Mix the breadcrumbs, nuts and rosemary in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large deep-sided non-stick pan (I use a casserole dish). Add the onions and saute for several minutes until tender.
- Add the crushed garlic and chopped chillies and continue to saute for a couple more minutes until the garlic releases it’s aroma.
- Take off the heat and stir in the flour. Then pour the hot stock into the pan and stir well to form a sticky paste.
- Strain the cranberries and stir them into the bowl containing the cashew and breadcrumb mixture.
- Then tip the cashew, breadcrumb and cranberry mixture into the pan. Mix well so that everything is thoroughly combined.
- Pack the mixture into the prepared loaf tin. Smooth down the top with the back of a wettened metal spoon.
- Bake for around forty-five minutes to one hour, or until firm and an inserted knife comes out clean.
- NOTE: Once baked, I prefer to leave nut loaf to sit in the tin for about half an hour before serving, as I feel it helps it to firm up for slicing.