Recipe: Vegetarian roast of nuts

NUTCRACKER: Vegetarian roast of nuts.
NUTCRACKER: Vegetarian roast of nuts.

Vegetarians need a special main course dish for Christmas and other significant occasions. I think they miss out sometimes, because people just don't know what to cook for them.

Roast of nuts is the dish I always make at Christmas time for the vegetarians in my family.

It fits in well with a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings and with salads. You will find that the meat-eaters enjoy it, too.

There is nothing tricky about making it, which is what you want at such a busy time.

My recipe is for a deluxe version, based on the nut loaf recipes that were popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as a result of the hippie movement.

You can dress it up with extra nuts and herbs to make it look festive. The leftovers are also delicious when eaten cold with salad and bread.

Although the roast of nuts recipe has quite a few ingredients, much of the preparation can be done ahead and with the food processor. I usually prepare the nut mixture, minus the eggs, a day or two beforehand and keep it in the fridge.

On Christmas morning, I simply mix through the eggs, tip the mixture into the tin and bake it. Alternatively you could make and bake it a week or two before Christmas and freeze.

Defrost in the fridge overnight and bake again, wrapped in foil, until thoroughly hot.

I usually have both hot and cold dishes for our Christmas lunch. I like to serve tomato fondue as part of the meal.

Tomato fondue is handy to have in the fridge, because it is so versatile. It can be served as a vegetable, a sauce, a filling or as an ingredient in other dishes.

It keeps well too, so you can make it a few days ahead.


Serves 6-8

250g raw mixed nuts of your choice (not peanuts)

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium brown onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 medium carrot, grated

3 medium tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped

1 cup fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

100g gruyere or vegetarian cheddar cheese, grated

1-2 Tbsp sage, rosemary and thyme, chopped

2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten

extra toasted nuts and herbs, to garnish

I like to use hazelnuts, brazils, walnuts, almonds, cashews, macadamias and pecans. Instead, you could use a packet of unsalted mixed raw nuts.

Spread the nuts out on a tray and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. When cool, chop the nuts in the food processor until well ground.

Heat the olive oil in a frypan and gently fry the onion for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for a couple of minutes and then add the tomato and seasoning. Tip the vegetables into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool.

Brush a loaf tin or terrine with oil or butter and line with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced.

Add the nuts, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, nutmeg, seasoning and eggs to the vegetables and mix together. Tip the mixture into the prepared tin or terrine and bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes before turning out. Garnish with extra toasted nuts and herbs - as used in the dish. Serve with vegetables and salad.


2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

750g tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 bouquet garni: 1 bay leaf, sprigs of thyme and parsley

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of sugar

pinch of cayenne (optional)

1-2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley or other soft herbs

Heat the oil in a saute pan with the onion and cook gently until soft and translucent. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bouquet garni, salt, pepper, sugar and cayenne (if using) and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

Uncover, turn the heat up a little and keep cooking and stirring until the tomato has reduced and is fairly thick, about 10 minutes. It should retain the fresh taste of the tomatoes. Remove the bouquet garni and correct the seasoning. You could add a few drops of balsamic vinegar for extra flavour. Puree the tomato fondue if you wish. Reheat and add the chopped herbs to serve.

- Good Food