Monday 14 January 2008

WCC Colourful Carrot Loaf & Asparagus Sauce

It was an inauspicious start to dinner. My garlic crusher broke. The gas oven flame went out and so the oven wasn’t preheated. Then, as the slice went in the oven, I realised I had forgot to add salt. Never mind, I thought, at least I have green sauce and green salad. Green in the colour of hope and cannot fail to cheer me up!

I have made both Alison Holst’s carrot and mushroom loaf and Anne Marshall’s asparagus sauce before. It is a comfort to know they work but also a frustration as my brain grows soggy with too many recipes. I thought the loaf was another one and got a wee bit confused when it didn’t taste as I expected. I also put a little extra salt in the sauce despite knowing from previous times that asparagus is a delicate flavour and doesn’t need much salt.

Minor hiccups aside, it was a delicious weekend dinner. The slice was a little sweeter for the lack of salt but still had lots of flavour. It is a very moist slice. I baked it in a 22 x 22cm square tin rather than a loaf tin and still found it a little soggy but I think it is the nature of the slice rather like zucchini slice, which was a standard in my childhood (lots of grated zucchini, cheese, eggs and a bit of flour).

Most importantly, the meal had bright cheerful colours when served with a simple salad of baby spinach, snowpea sprouts, nectarines, red capsicum, cucumber and lemon juice. And the second night I didn’t have enough sauce left for the both of us so I served E’s with leftover bottled pasta sauce. I took great delight in the sight of my slice with green sauce beside his with red sauce.

Alison suggests serving it with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables to impress conservative eaters. It seems a bit boring to me but I know there are lots of people who like this sort of thing so maybe it would appeal to them. Give me a colourful salad any day! And because I am not the only one who loves my veggies, I am sending this to Sarah at I Like to Cook who is hosting this month's Weekend Cookbook Challenge. The theme in January is Veggin' Out.

Carrot and Mushroom Loaf
(from Alison Holst’s Meals without Meat)
Serves 4

2 tbsp oil or butter (I only used 1)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used basil, thyme and chives)
½ tsp salt
black pepper
3 cups (400g) grated carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
½ cup dry breadcrumbs
½ cup grated cheese
½ cup milk
2 eggs
2tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp grated cheese
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 180 C. Grease and line a loaf tin (I used a 22 x 22cm square tin).

Heat oil or butter in large frypan. Fry onion and garlic on low heat until onion soft (about 3 minutes). Add mushrooms and continue to cook until softened (about 5 minutes).

Transfer onion and mushroom mixture to a medium mixing bowl and add herbs, seasoning, carrot, breadcrumbs, cheese, milk and eggs. Mix well. Pour into prepared loaf tin and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, cheese, seeds and paprika.

Bake for 60 minutes. Alison says to cover with foil after 30 minutes but I didn’t as I like a nice crisp golden brown topping and my oven isn’t very fierce. She also says it is done with it feels firm in the middle but I just looked at the topping!

Asparagus Sauce
(from Anne Marshall’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook)
Serves 3-4

375g asparagus (or a 340g can asparagus)
½ cup (125ml) vegetable stock
salt (use sparingly)
2 tbsp yoghurt

If you are using fresh asparagus (I have never used tinned and am not sure it would be as green and lovely, but I guess it is an option) trim and chop asparagus. Steam or microwave til tender. Puree in food processor with stock and seasoning to taste. This is the exciting moment when it looks a brilliant green like the fields of Ireland. Pour into small saucepan and mix in yoghurt. Heat gently over low heat.

On the stereo:
Under the Covers 1: 60s Pop Primer - Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs


  1. I love the look of this carrot loaf - the colours are beautiful and I bet it tastes delicious!

  2. thanks Antonia - I was happy with the colours too (although it did look more orange in Alison Holst's book!)

  3. This looks incredible! The colors are stunning. I know what you mean about green - it never fails to cheer me up too. Thank you for taking part in WCC - hope to see you again!

  4. thanks Sarah - always happy to hear from another lover of green - will definitely try to join in a few more Weekend Cookbook Challenges.

  5. That asparagus sauce is gorgeous. As soon as I saw it, I thought of a lovely summer sauce for pasta tossed with a little grated lemon and olive oil. Mmmmm!

  6. thanks Laurie - I love your idea of the asparagus as a pasta sauce - I think I would like it with lemon and parmesan cheese - sounds most excellent!


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