Thursday 20 December 2007

Nutroast for dinosaurs

E picked up a bunch of basil that I had sitting on the bench and looked at it knowingly. Usually he takes no interest in my ingredients until they are looking up at him from the dinner plate. But the previous night we had watched an odd sci fi movie Anonymous Rex about herb loving dinosaurs who used holograms to look like humans. (Shape shifters anyone?) It was very odd seeing our hero eating a pinch of oregano at a society function, while his dad had an basil addiction, and the bad dinosaurs were planning to overtake the world with thyme gas. Very odd but is it possible that sci fi movies could actually interest young kids (and big kids) in herbs?

I was making a nutroast recipe I found in Leah Leneman’s Single Vegan cookbook. The assumption that vegans might be only cooking for one seems clever (how annoying is it to downsize ingredients when you are cooking for one) and a wee bit sad (eating alone each night). But the flaw in her logic is that even if you are cooking for yourself, whether in a family of rabid carnivores or living alone, you really want to have leftovers so you are not slaving over a hot stove every night of your life.

So I ask you, nutroast for one? Really? No no no. That is crazy-talk when nutroast leftovers are so good. So easy to reheat, and so good in a tomato pasta sauce, a chilli non carne, sliced in a sandwich, mashed into burgers. The possibilities are endless. I even made the suggested oatmeal gravy which worked best when first made (after a while it did look like porridge) and I think the leftovers of this gravy would be great mixed with leftover nutroast and some extra breadcrumbs to make burgers.

Needless to say, I didn’t make the small proportions that Leah suggests, but increased them to serve four – that means one night with roast potato and pumpkin, and one night with chips and roasted zucchini, capsicum and asparagus. I had to juggle the ingredients a bit to supersize the loaf. I added a few fresh touches with fresh basil rather than dried basil, and the addition of sun dried tomatoes.

The texture was a wee bit on the crumbly side but I wouldn’t add any more moisture. The taste was superb. The ground nuts become wonderful creamy in this mixture, but the loaf has crunchy edges. The sautéed mushrooms and seasonings give a richness that rivals meat without the heaviness - admittedly I haven’t eaten meat for so many years I probably don’t really know, but it did taste so good. Plus the occasional sweet explosion of sundried tomatoes. Who could ask for more? With the addition of fresh basil, even the dinosaurs would love it!

Walnut and Mushroom Loaf
(adapted from Leah Leneman)
Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, finely chopped
1 scant cup walnuts
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup soy or cows milk
1 cup dried breadcrmbs
1 tbsp flaxseed meal (optional)
½ tsp fresh sage, chopped
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
sea salt to taste

Heat oil in large frypan. Sauté onion over medium heat til translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté an additional 5 minutes til mushrooms are cooked. (The recipe says tenderised but this just reminds me of meat too much. I also followed the recipe and just sautéed the onions and mushrooms together but I felt the onions needed more time than the mushrooms – although they were fine in the loaf.)

While the vegetables are sautéing you could dry fry walnuts til they smell roasted. Then process walnuts and sunflower seeds in food processer til coarsely ground.

Mix mushroom mixture, walnut mixture and remaining ingredients. Spoon into a greased loaf tin (mine is 13 x 22cm – it was a silicone one so I didn’t use paper but I usually line a metal loaf tin’s base with baking paper for a nutroast). Press the mixture into the tin with the back of a spoon. Bake in moderate oven for about 45 minutes. Stand 5 minutes. Turn onto serving dish and serve with oatmeal gravy (below)

Oatmeal gravy
(adapted from Leah Leneman)
Serves 4

½ cup fast cooking oats
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp olive oil
1½ tsp promite or other yeast extract
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Soy sauce or salt to taste

Recipe says to put oats, water and oil in food processor and blend thoroughly, then heat in saucepan with flavours til thickened. My oats didn’t really blend much so I think in future I would just put all ingredients in a saucepan, maybe whisk the oil into the liquid, and heat. I think it is better served straight away. Add more water as needed, especially if reheating it.

On the stereo:
The Good, the Bad and The Queen: The Good the Bad and the Queen


  1. That sounds great!
    I had a mushroom roast in a vegeterian restaurant in Paris and they fried up slices of it and served it with brambleberry sauce, in the same way a meat paté would be. It was a strange combination but quite nice.

    I was just reading your tabouleh entry and was wondering if a spoonful of the pomegranate molasses might not be an interesting dipping sauce for your roast...

    Wishing you a great holiday.

  2. thanks Spacedlaw - I have some leftover nutroast from christmas so might try it with some pomegranate molasses - great idea!

  3. Thank you so much for giving the groups of ingredients so I understood how to prepare a vegan AND gluten, tomato & mushroom free Christmas nut roast. I chopped chestnuts and walnuts, mixed in ground sunseeds, flax seeds and almonds, moistened with tofu, minced celery, fresh rosemary & parsley, with stir fried grated carrots, celeriac and onions. Seasoned with Braggs aminos liquid & pepper. My guests loved it.

  4. Bit concerned about the Worcestershire Sauce - its not usually vegetarian :-(

  5. Hi Anonymous - if you look around - esp in health food shops - you will find vegetarian worcestershire sauce - or you can make it yourself - the one we have in the house is always vegetarian - fear not!


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