Saturday, 8 March 2008

A Neb at Nut Roast - information and recipes

Update This post was originally developed as the invitation page for A Neb at Nut Roast blog event but has evolved into my page of nut roast information and recipes. You can find a list of all my nut roast recipes further down this post that I update regularly.

I love nut roast. I love extolling its delicious virtues. Nut roasts have a bad reputation but when done well are heaven on a plate. But I just don’t see enough nut roasts on the blogs I read so I have decided a little gentle persuasion is needed. I am inviting you to have a go at making a nut roast and send it to me and I will post a roundup soon after (rules at the end of this post). To encourage you I have written notes on the glories of nut roasts, listed links to recipes and given some advice on making them.

Defending the dreaded nut cutlet

I first recognised nut roast needed a champion a few months back when I was disturbed by nut roast bashing. Nigella in How to Eat advises vegetarians to avoid the nut roast route. (But then she says she would miss turkey and the stuffing. Which is ironic as I find that nut roast gives me the stuffing experience without having to eat any meat)! Nigel goes even further in Eating for England and says that they are an insult to vegetarians (I am paraphrasing because I read this in a bookstore). Even the Observer headlined an article on meat free Christmas feasts (2007) with ‘Nutroast – no thanks!’

I decided to dig into my vegetarian cookbooks where I was sure I would find allies. There wasn’t much but what I found suggested that although vegetarian writers knew the joys of nut roasts, the bad reputation of the nut cutlet has haunted vegetarians in Britain. Joyce McKinnell in 1978 wrote that ‘ Ten to one as soon as you mention you are a vegetarian you get the traditional nut cutlet remark, but there’s more to a nut than a cutlet.’ Rose Elliot (in Vegetarian Cookery) says ‘I particularly like both a good nut roast and the ‘dreaded nut cutlet’, which can be moist, full of flavour and a real pleasure to eat’. You can read a bit more about my investigations into nut roast history here.

I am not sure how the nut cutlet traumatised Britain but I take umbrage at the lack of understanding among our celebrity cooks such as Nigella and Nigel. If they were served a dried up old roast beef that was like eating an old boot they might not like it, but it doesn’t mean that they would shun all roast beef. Perhaps nut roast is like the little girl who had a little curl right in the middle of her forehead – when it is good it is very very good but when it is bad it is horrid. This is why I am on a bit of a mission to reclaim the nutroast, to sing its praises and get it back on the menu.

What’s to love about nut roasts?

If you want to impress a carnivore with a vegetarian meal, this is the one to make. I want to encourage carnivores to try them as well as vegetarians because these taste so good.

I have written about the wonders of nut roasts before but I will quickly tell you again. They are crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside (even creamy if you use ground nuts). Nut roast recipes are wonderfully flexible and can be adapted to suit most tastes. I know one criticism is that they are dense and substantial – but this does not necessarily translate into dry and tasteless. Nut roast comforts and satisfies on a cold winter day like my mum’s roast dinner. But they can also be light and are wonderful served cold with a salad.

Nut roasts replace many of the meat experiences I loved as a child. Nut roasts can easily replace meat as the centre of a meal, especially in a dinner of meat and vegetable side dishes such as a roast dinner. Nut roasts remind me of stuffing, meatloaf, mincemeat, german sausage, cold cuts and sausages - but yummier. Nut roasts have made a joy of my Christmases as a vegetarian. As well as being served sliced with vegetables, nutroasts can be stuffed into pastry, slice in sandwiches, crumbled in a bolognaise sauce or a chilli non carne, fried, chopped in a curry or stew. The possibilities are endless. It can be served with all manner of gravies, sauces, roast vegies, salads and other side dishes.

I know I am not alone in loving nut roasts. Recently Holler and Ricki have made their first nut roast and sung its praises. In fact Ricki seemed to have fallen in love - “I love nutroast! Nutroast is King! Long Live Nutroast!!”. I also found a wonderful write-up on nutroast by Sher - ‘I'll bake this marvelous loaf again and again. I'm hooked.’ - and the responses suggested that there are many more bloggers intrigued by the lure of the nut roast.

Advice on sourcing and adapting nut roast recipes

Below I have written some lists of typical nut roast ingredients, links to nut roasts I have blogged, links to other nut roasts I have found in the blogosphere. You will also find nut roast recipes by cookbook writers such as Rose Elliot, Sarah Brown, Charmaine Solomon and Deborah Madison. Nut roasts may come by different names as you will see in the list below. It is not to be confused with the sweet cakey ‘nutloaf’ my mum used to bake in cylindrical tins. Nor is it any bread or cake which happen to have a few chopped nuts in it.

As you will see in these lists, there are many different versions of nut roast. I encourage you to experiment with nut roast recipes as they take kindly to whims and favouritism. You may even find inspiration in meat dishes – such as the dried fruit in turkey stuffing, meatloaf baked in tomato soup, or the crunchy cheese and breadcrumb topping on a meatloaf. Just remember that a few nuts go a long way.

There are also dishes that are so close to nut roasts that they might be considered close cousins, such as vegetarian haggis, baked paté, terrines. You may also have come across nut roasts served as burgers or disguised as stuffing in sausage rolls, pies, pancakes, stuffed vegetables or vegetarian hog's heads.

Typical Nut Roast Ingredients:

The essential nuts: ground or chopped nuts or nut butters of any kind – cashews, brazils, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, chestnuts, etc

For texture and bulk: breadcrumbs, rice, oats, millet, barley, flours, other grains, seeds

To make sure it sticks together: eggs, tahini, flaxseed, cottage cheese, tofu

Flavouring: salt, soy sauce, herbs, tomato sauce, vegetable stock, spices, chillis, garlic, worcestershire sauce, nutritional yeast flakes

Optional extra flavour, moisture and texture: pureed vegies (carrot, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, peas), grated/shredded vegies (carrot, zucchini, beetroot, spinach), finely chopped and fried vegies (onion, carrot, celery, mushrooms, tomatoes), vegetable juice, lentils, beans, grated cheese, chopped tempeh

Nut Roasts on my blog (I will add to this when I try other recipes):
  1. Cottage Cheese and Walnut Nutloaf – a quick and simple nut roast which I make for Christmas every year. This one has a great texture for cutting thin slices.
  2. Nutroast (and see Cindy’s version with her advice) – a more flavoursome nut roast with mushroom and tomato.
  3. Vegetable nutloaf – a free-form nut roast with lots of vegetables that I made by throwing in whatever I had in the pantry.
  4. Walnut and mushroom nutroast – vegan nut roast with herbs and sundried tomatoes.
  5. Carrot, Parsnip and Cashew Loaf – gluten free and vegan – filled with mashed vegies and millet, it had too much ooze but still tasted excellent.
  6. Cheesy Nutloaf - a gluten free nut roast with lots of vegetables, cheese and rice.
  7. Parsnip Nut Roast - a classic nut roast with the addition of mashed parsnip - soft and bready. Made vegan by substituting soy flour for egg.
  8. Michaelmas Loaf - a recipe from 1910 - this nut roast is quite solid and nutty. The instructions involves moulding the loaf in a roasting tin and basting it with water and butter.
  9. Chestnut, Walnut and Mushroom nut roast - my own creation (inspired by Rose Eliot and Sarah Brown) to use up some chestnut puree - very rich and gluten free.
  10. Tofu and Spinach Nutroast - with smoked paprika and gouda cheese, but egg-free and gluten free - this is a soft, moist, crumbly nut roast.
  11. Cereal Nut Roast - a nut roast made with vegies, cottage cheese and weetbix (or cornflakes) which intrigued me for its quirky ingredients - more comforting than fancy, it is a soft mushy nut roast.
  12. Parsnip, cranberry and chestnut roast - festive nut roast with cranberry sauce filling and chestnuts, walnuts, sage and mashed parsnip in the mix. It was softer than the picture in the magazine but delicious.
  13. Pumpkin nut roast - a riff on the parsnip nut roast but with almonds, smoked paprika and roasted pumpkin - lovely and soft and vegan.
  14. BBB nut roast - BBB = broccoli, brazil nuts and brown rice. I used a gluten free corn crumbs instead of breadcrumb which made it a bit less soft than my usual nut roast but it was very tasty and both gluten free and vegan.
  15. Pumpkin and almond nut roast - lots of roasted pumpkin and some creamed corn made this very soft while the corn crumbs and brown rice made the outside crispy when I grilled slices til golden brown and ate it in a sandwich. Lots of flavour and it is both vegan and gluten free.
  16. Festive nut roast parcels - almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and pumpkin baked in tomato glazed cubes, served with strips of capsicum around them like ribbon on presents to look like Christmas parcels. The leftovers are excellent in red peppers.
  17. Vegan Christmas Nut Roast - a vegan version of my cottage cheese and walnut nut roast at number 1 in this list.  I love the nut roast because it is simple and slices so well.  I veganised it by substituting silken tofu for the eggs and cottage cheese.  A bit softer but still sliced well and was rather tasty.
  18. Buckwheat and Sweet Potato Nut Roast - cooked buckwheat groats and baked sweet potato makes this loaf soft and moist.  Almonds, hazelnuts and rice flakes give it some backbone.  Onion, carrot, mushroom and bush spice marinade give it some flavour.  Stock would do as well as the bush marinade but I had some on hand.
  19. Cauliflower and sun-dried tomato nut roast - my attempt at a raw nut roast went off the rails but I just added some eggs and breadcrumbs and baked it.  This one is a work in progress as I was not sure of the flavour of raw cauliflower and suspect cooked might work better in the roast but was still edible in the end.
  20. Purple nut roast - a vegan nut roast bound with chia seeds and made purple with purple carrot, red onion and stripey beetroot.  Quite moist and crumbly but very tasty.
  21. Green (pea) Nut Roast - vegan and gluten free - this is a simple nut roast of brazil nuts and cashews combined with mushed green peas that makes it beautifully green and great for a roast dinner. 
  22. Cheesy Carrot Nut Roast -  a simple almond nut roast with a bit of smoked paprika for extra flavour.
  23. Chocolate Nut Roast - an experimental nut roast inspired by Mexican mole sauce - it is full of corn, veg haggis, cheese, almonds, a little dark chocolate and spices.  The chocolate is more for depth of flavour than the sweet chocolate flavour we all know and love - I served it with a chocolate and red wine gravy.
  24. Stilton nut roast - great for celebrations - this nut roast has chestnuts, almonds and hazelnuts with a sprinkling of hemp seeds.  The Stilton adds flavour rather than overwhelms the nut roast.  This is a nut roast that slices up quite well and is great with gravy and cranberry sauce.
  25. Lentil and mushroom nut roast - an everyday vegan nut roast full of lentils, mushrooms, hazelnuts, cashews, carrot, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, nutritional yeast flakes and tahini.  It was a huge nut roast with lots of leftovers that were great in pizza and bolognaise sauce.
  26. Lentil and walnut roast  - a vegan nut roast full of flavours - walnuts, apple, sweet potato, oats, brown lentils, all held together with silken tofu and breadcrumbs.  Great for a celebration.
  27. Tomato Nut Roast with Buckwheat and Seeds - (Recipe posted on rickiheller.com as guest post) - soft gluten free and vegan nut roast with a tomato flavour that made me think of a tomato pasta bake when eating this nut roast. 
  28. Golden beetroot nut roast - a soft nut roast made by cooking a thick tomato sauce with golden beetroot in it and then mixing in ground almonds and cashews, breadcrumbs, herbs, seasoning and an egg.  Could easily be adapted to gluten free or vegan.  Should be called beetloaf!
  29. Smoky cheese and barley nut roast - made by making a barley risotto and mixing in smoky cheese, fried mushrooms, walnuts, almonds, breadcrumbs and lots of other flavours.  Soft and hearty.
  30. Sweet potato and poppy seed nut roast with strawberry glaze - vegan nut roast that was soft and not quite the right texture for nut roast but great flavour combinations - deserving of more experiments. 

Nut roasts in the blogosphere:

- White Nut Roast with Stuffing made by Four Friends and a Blog
- Cheese and Walnut Loaf (from Deborah Madison’s Greens Cookbook) made by What did you eat, The Hungry Tiger, and Nexus
- Mushroom Nut Roast with Tomato Sauce (from Gourmet Vegetarian by Jane Price) made by Holler of Tinned Tomatoes
- Vegetable Nut Roast made by Sher of She likes her food
- Holiday Lentil Loaf from Fat free vegan recipes
- Magical Loaf Maker by Vegan Lunchbox

A Neb* at Nut Roast: the Rules

-- make a nut roast (where a nut roast is a vegetarian savoury baked loaf that contains nuts - not a bread or a cake).

-- post about your nut roast on your blog. I encourage you to write about your nut roast experiences – have you had it before, what do you think of it, how do you serve it, and have you encountered the dreaded nut cutlet? Please write your post in English and link back to this post. You are welcome to use the event logo (see below) and to send more than one entry.

-- email me at gggiraffe07 AT yahoo DOT com DOT au by the closing date and send me:
- your name
- name of your blog
- location
- url of your post
- a photo

-- If you don’t have a blog, you are welcome to submit a recipe. Email me your name, location, recipe and photo (if you have one) and I will be happy to include it in the round up.

-- I look forward to receiving your posts and recipes and I will post a round up of all recipes in the week following the closing date.


A Neb at Nut Roast 2008
closing date 18 April 2008
Read 2008 round up

A Neb at Nut Roast II
Closing date: 5 May 2011
Read announcement

Read 2011 round up

* Neb is Scottish slang for having a peek, taking a look, a sticky beak. It literally means ‘nose’.

On the stereo:
Workers Playtime: Billy Bragg

41 comments:

  1. I've never heard the word "neb" before. Must be a central belt word...
    And I've never had a nut roast before. Realise this goes against the grain but I think they sound delicious and will do my best to take part!

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  2. Bravo! Great idea. I have never made a proper nut roast but I do make a staple nut ball recipe and adapt it in a million ways. This is a great opportunity to investigate and prepare a completely different nut loaf recipe.

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  3. Thanks Wendy - I think lots of people haven't had a nut roast before which is part of why I am doing this event. Hope you will be able to participate and find that they are indeed delicious.

    re 'Neb' I am surprised you have never heard of it - I have learnt it from E who uses it a lot and I even checked an online scots dictionary when writing this post and it was included.

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  4. I've never heard of nut roast, let alone prepare it. You have given a lot of time, let me see if I can get hold of a recipe that I like.

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  5. this is a fantastic theme - and a challenge for me. i'd love to create something. will add it to our events calendar.

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  6. thanks LisaRene - I love the look of your nutballs and am sure that you could adapt them for a nut roast - although nut roasts can be quite moist inside - but if it does, don't worry - they still taste good and solidify as they cool a bit.

    thanks suganya - I hope you can find a recipe you like - or failing that, adapt one to your tastes

    thanks Bee - I hope this will be fun for bloggers who enjoy a challenge - and thanks for putting it on your calendar - it is so hard to keep up with all the events, so that is v helpful

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  7. Ooh, I've never had a nut roast or tried or nut roast or even heard of a nut roast so not sure I would be any good at making a nut roast! But I will read up on it a bit more and try my best to make one- no promises but I shall try my best!

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  8. Hi Johanna...first time here & pretty much intrigued. Never heard of a nut-roast before...probably living under some silly rock & the world's moved on!! Are nebs the same things like cocoa nebs?...that's the only neb I've heard of. Time for some research...thanks for all the links! Cheers Deeba

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  9. I've never actually eaten nut roast, let alone tried to make one. I'll think about this and hopefully I will be able to cook up something for your event.

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  10. Very interesting! Never heard of "nut roast" but sounds sort of mysterious... I am going to check my veggie cookbooks and do a bit of research, and may try my hand at one now thay you have my attention!

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  11. thanks Pixie - it seems to be a british dish so at least you are in the right place to seek out nut roast!

    thanks Deeba - actually sometimes I feel I am one of a handful that has heard of nut roasts and that you are in the majority! Hope the links will help you get your head around nut roast and have some fun!

    thanks Lisa - hope you will be able to make and enjoy nut roast.

    thanks Deb - hope your veggie cook books help you solve the nut roast mystery :-)

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  12. PS - Deeba - I meant to say that 'neb' is scottish slang for a look - as in 'take a look at nut roast'

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  13. Hey, Johanna!
    Wow, I've certainly missed a lot in my week away!! I am SO thrilled about your nutroast event and can't wait to participate. Another reason to make nutroast--YAY!!!

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  14. Never heard of this before. It sounds like it would taste good. I don't have time for very many blog events, so please don't feel slighted if I don't manage to enter. I'll save the bookmark in my file for food blog events, but all too often when I do that, I later notice the event is over and I haven't remembered it.

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  15. Right-o.

    Will try and get something together for you (it's great that you've given a good, lengthy leadtime!).

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  16. thanks Ricki - nice to see you back in action - and would love to see you making more nut roasts now you have had a taster

    thanks Kalyn - I will not take offense at anyone not participating - I don't manage to participate in all the blog events I would like to either - and I know not everyone has the time nor even my love of nut roast - but I am happy if a few more people know about nut roast because of this event!

    thanks Lucy - would love it if you can make a nut roast - I have given a long lead in time because I feel such a novice at doing this sort of thing and I feel nut roasts are so new to many that people need a bit of time to get their head around them!

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  17. Thanks for directing me here Johanaa! I am with the most who've never tried nut roast before, but after reading this post, I'll surely try a hand!:)

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  18. Yaey!! How exciting. I've never really heard of nut roast, though I've been a vegetarian for a few years. I just saw Holler's post about it though and have been wanting to try it out. Thanks for giving me the push I needed! I've marked your nut loaf event on my calendar. :) The links you provided are awesome.

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  19. Thanks for letting me know about this! I've always wanted to try making a nut roast but it scared me I guess... And to be honest, it was one of your recipes that got me thinking about it again. Now I have a good reason to try making one soon, looking forward to the experience, thanks for organising this!

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  20. This is a great idea! People often consider them boring and dry but they can be very tasty. Will try by best to participate.

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  21. thanks Mansi - it would be great if you give it a try!

    thanks Ashley - I found this such a great option when I became vegetarian - hope you will too

    thanks Joanna - don't be scared - even my recent nut roast with carrot and cashews that was a bit of a oozy disaster tasted good - and I am sure a dry one can be helped with a good sauce (although in my experience they tend to be more on the moist than dry side)

    thanks Katie - good to hear from someone who is familiar with nut roast - hope you can participate

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  22. This sounds like fun. Will try to come up with something. Right now my oven isn't working; the part's been ordered.

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  23. thanks Susan - I bet you will be so excited to be able to bake anything once the oven is back in service again

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  24. Hey Johanna,
    Have you submitted this event to Sticky Date? They are listing April events already, and I think this one rates a mention!

    It's at http://stickydate.blogspot.com/.

    I've been working on my recipe, too! :)

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  25. thanks Ricki - I have emailed Cate about it so hopefully she will add it

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  26. Nut roast huh!?! I must admit, being a carnivore supreme, I've never tried to find dishes that taste like meat, or that give as good a "chew" as meat, but I'm always up for trying something new.

    Thanks for thinking up the idea and now I'll try to find a recipe that I can pass here without getting lynched!

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  27. thanks Ruth - I hope you do get to try it - it shouldn't really be compared to meat if you are carnivorous - I don't like the taste of meat and I love this - and most of my carnivorous family and friends find it tasty too!

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  28. This sure looks interesting! I have one recipe I have made and liked but as correctly pointed out by you..like many have not blogged abt it! Time to :)

    Good one Johanna..u will find me there :)

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  29. Hi Johanna - thanks for letting me know about this one. I've never made a nut roast before!

    Very glad you've broked the basic recipe down into steps as I must admit when you mentioned that you were hosting a nut roast event I wasn't very sure what actually constitutes a proper nut loaf. Glad to hear it's quite a freeform thing - I'll make sure that I give it a try!

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  30. I hope you don't mind that I'm a non-vegetarian who can't digest soy who happens to be poking around on your blog. I've tried Lisarene's nut balls with my mom and they were really really great, so I think nut roasts probably taste really good too. Is it ok if I use eggs as a binder? I don't want to break the rules, but soy and I just really don't get along.
    I promise I won't stick any meat or suet (gross) in there!

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  31. thanks DK - hope to see your nut roast appear on the blog!

    Thanks Sophie - I think most nut roast recipes can be given a little tweak according to your tastes but I sometimes just make up a nut roast with whatever I have on hand! So feel free to experiment.

    Thanks Mary - you are more than welcome to poke around on the blog. I don't post meat recipes on my blog but I am happy to share recipes with both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Eggs are fine to use - I often use them in nut roasts

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  32. I have never heard of nutroast (or neb, LOVE it) before (and I live in dippy-sunshine-health-fad Los Angeles!) and am EXREMELY intrigued. This is going to be great fun.

    Cheers!
    Rachael

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  33. Johanna thank you so much for introducing me to nutloaves, as I sit here and enjoy my vego sausage rolls made with nutloaf filling I am overjoyed to be able to make things that I thought would be lost forever since becoming vego. I have been making them with all sorts of nuts, vegies and seeds and even my non vego boyfriend is in love with them too.

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  34. This one has really pushed the limits of my culinary memory. Fortunately happy ones of living in England. I've risen to the challenge http://confessionsofafoodnazi.blogspot.com/2008/03/nut-loaf-that-some-would-call-roast.html

    Thanks for the inspiration.

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  35. Hi Johanna, I have made my nut roast and have it posted on my blog. Turned out pretty well for my first one. I sent you an e-mail with the details.

    Out of curiosity, the first photo of a nut roast on this post looks very dense, which I find appealing. Does the photo coincide with a recipe you have posted?

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  36. thanks Rachael - hope you enjoy it (and maybe give hippy dippy LA another fad!)

    thanks Stascat - nut roast does feel like the best of both worlds - it has the heartiness of meat without the taste or texture (if that makes sense) - glad you are a convert!

    thanks AOF for rising to the challenge - enjoyed your post and glad nut roast could bring back some happy memories

    thanks LisaRene - glad you enjoyed your nutroast - I think some of the ones with breadcrumbs can be more dense than those with rice or other grains. The one on the top photo is the cheese and walnut nutloaf that I always make for christmas - it is a very plain one - at http://gggiraffe.blogspot.com/2007/12/my-christmas-nutloaf.html

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  37. Thank your for the information, I'm definitely going to make your Christmas cheese and walnut nutloaf and will let you know when I do.

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  38. I love dry fruits esp. the nuts!! I have one in mind already - which we all love at home!! Thanks for the opportunity to get me to make some good stuff!!

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  39. I made mine and emailed you about it. Thanks for the opportunity to discover these, I can't wait to try more types!!

    http://lostinthekitchen.blogspot.com/2008/04/delicious-vegetable-nut-roast.html

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  40. Ok so I realise I am four years behind in posting here, but I wanted to let you know I just made my first ever nut roast. I used the Cheesy Carrot Recipe and I can't wait to try it. Thank you for all these lovely recipes. My sister-in-law is a vegetarian and always brings her own nut roast to Christmas Dinner, so in honour of her, I shall be eating nut roast in lieu of turkey this afternoon (I live in the US).

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  41. Thanks Babsie - hope you enjoy the nut roast - I am delighted that people such as you are still finding this post useful four years on :-)

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