Lentil & Brazil Nut Roast with Sage & Onion Stuffing & Red Wine Gravy
I know, I know, the nut roast has had a bad press over the years. But thankfully the days of dried out bits of tasteless, hard, leathery tack are long gone. A nut roast is a perfect vehicle for all those delicious Christmas roast accompaniments, not forgetting the stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce. It also stops the vegetarians feeling excluded in a mixed meal.
I’ve teamed up with Cranks and the Vegetarian Society to extol the wonders of nut roasts and other alternatives to the big bird during the festive season. Eating more vegetables helps us all in our quest to be as healthy as possible; those leafy vegetables like cabbage and Brussels sprouts are full of vitamins minerals and phytonutrients. Don’t worry about those unpronounceable names – they’re great for your metabolism if not your vocabulary. Even the humble spud is a powerhouse, nutritionally speaking. For those wanting to reduce their intake of meat there are many delicious options out there. Take a look at the Cranks Kitchen winter menu for some inspiration. I’m very much hoping I’ll be able to make it up there for a meal myself in the next week or two. The apple, cashew and parsnip burger served with a plum ginger sauce has my name written all over it.
I’ve been eating and enjoying homemade nut roasts for many years. In fact I’m a big fan and enjoy it more than ever I did the roast meat. The combination of lentils and nuts is probably my favourite. It makes for a moist loaf which has a bit of bite, but isn’t too chewy. I’ll happily add eggs to my nut roast to help with binding and to give additional nutrition, but they are not necessary and I’ve omitted them in this recipe to keep it vegan and thus more inclusive.
This lentil nut roast is easy to make and very tasty. CT and other non-vegetarian friends and family have all tucked into this with gusto. The lentils provide substance and moisture and the nuts provide substance and flavour. I’ve used walnuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts or a mixture. All are subtly different, but all are good. I’ve included a sage and onion stuffing here to make it a little bit extra special for Christmas. The red wine gravy is rich and adds a note of festivity to the occasion. It’s also full of resveratrol, but hey, what did I just say about all those hard to pronounce phytonutrients?
Having made and eaten so many over the years, here are a few top tips for making your nut roast
- It should first and foremost not be dry. But be careful not to make it too wet either, or it won’t hold together. You don’t want a dollop of sludge on the plate.
- Don’t use whole nuts. Your nut roast needs a good, but not overly chewy texture and lumps of hard nuts can be off putting.
- A rich umami flavour is paramount and I find adding a slug of good soy sauce such as tamari or shoyu really helps.
- You can use an egg to help bind the mixture, but omitting this means that vegans cannot partake.
- 8oz (225g) whole brown lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 celery stick - finely chopped
- 2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - finely chopped
- 5oz (150g) Brazil nuts - ground
- 4oz (120g) wholemeal breadcrumbs (I used rye sourdough with linseeds)
- 4 tbsp tomato passata
- 1 tbsp tamari or other good quality soy sauce
- 1 tsp balsamic viniger
- 1 tsp herbes de Provence
- a good grinding of black pepper
- 2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
- 1 onion
- 8 sage leaves - finely chopped
- 2oz (60g) wholemeal breadcrumbs (I used rye sourdough)
- a pinch of sea salt
- a grind of black pepper
- 1 heaped tsp brewers yeast powder or nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
- 1 clove garlic - finely chopped
- 300-350 ml vegetable water (any water the vegetables have cooked in)
- 150 ml red wine
- 1 tsp English mustard
- 1 tsp redcurrant jelly
- 1 tsp tamari
- Soak the lentils overnight in plenty of water. Give them a good rinse, then just cover with fresh clean water. Bring to the boil, add the bay leaf and celery and simmer covered for about 1/2 an hour until soft and the liquid has been absorbed. If you've added too much water, you may need to drain it off as the mixture shouldn't be too wet.
- Fry the onions gently for about ten minutes, then add the garlic and continue frying until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Remove the bay leaf from the lentils and mix in the onions together with the remaining ingredients.
- Pack half the mixture into a 2lb silicone loaf tin or tin lined with baking paper.
- Scatter the stuffing mixture over the top, then spoon in the remaining lentil mixture, pressing down to compact and create a smooth surface.
- Bake in the middle or bottom of a hot oven for about 40 minutes (180℃-200℃), depending on what else you have in there.
- Fry the onions gently in the oil for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent. This can be done at the same time as frying the onions for the nut roast.
- Add the sage and breadcrumbs and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in the salt and pepper
- Toast the nutritional yeast and flour in a medium pan over moderate heat for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir.
- Slowly add the stock and wine whisking as you go to avoid any lumps. Keep whisking until the mixture has thickened and is lump free. You may want to add more stock at this stage, depending on how thick you like your gravy.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for five minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the flour is cooked out.
- Best to get the lentils soaking the night before you need them. The longer they soak, the more digestible they become.
- Can also be served with a tangy tomato sauce.
Other nut roast recipes you might like
- Carrot and cashew nut roast via Amuse Your Bouche
- Chestnut and cashew nut roast via Thinly Spread
- Stilton nut roast via the queen of nut roasts at Green Gourmet Giraffe
- Stuffed cashew nut roast via The Gluten Free Alchemist
This is a commissioned post. Opinions are, as always, my own.