Fabulous Festive Nut Roast With Cranberry Sauce

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Yes that’s right. A NUT ROAST. Could this blog be more plant-based hippy-dippy? Before your dismiss the idea completely, I really want to tell you that in the 20+ years I’ve been vegetarian, I’d never even tried a nut roast until the last month or so. And now I can’t get enough of them! I’m not sure why I balked at the idea of one. I thought they embodied every dull misconception held by carnivores about the vegetarian/vegan diet, so I avoided them like the plague in favour of modern ‘Sunday roast’ replacements made by companies such as Quorn. And while I still definitely enjoy these products, lately I’ve really enjoyed mixing things up a bit by creating my own delicious and sliceable addition to the table. This Christmas-inspired nut roast is truly a delight. It is not only a breeze to make and tastes excellent – the cranberries and stuffing add a really festive flavour! – it is also ridiculously nutritious. By my rough calculation, this roast contains 80g of protein. You could serve four adults with this, so that’s at least 20g per person, plus a whole heap of omega-3, plant sterols, vitamins, minerals and of course, zero cholesterol. The cranberry sauce is optional, but it is so easy to make. Spooned over the roast, it makes a really gorgeous centrepiece. I created this vegan nut roast with Christmas (and Thanksgiving!) in mind, but it’s delicious for any Sunday lunch served with your favourite veggies – and cold leftovers taste fabulous too!

You will need a normal (2lb) loaf tin, generously oiled.

2 slices of bread (preferably wholemeal)
200g grated sweet potato
150g raw nuts (not roasted or salted. I used a mixed bag selection of walnuts, cashews, almonds and hazelnuts)
150g Fry’s ‘chicken strips’, defrosted in the microwave (see notes below)
125ml stock water
40g stuffing mix (dry, from a packet)
1/2 an onion (or 1 small onion) roughly chopped
3 tbsp nutritional flakes (see notes below)
1 tsp onion powder/granules (not onion salt)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Pinch of ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves
75g dried cranberries
50g mixed seeds (sunflower, pumpkin etc)

For the cranberry sauce:
150g fresh cranberries
100g caster sugar
100ml water
A tablespoon of brandy (optional!)

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Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas mark 5. If you have a big/wide food processor, simply place all the roast ingredients into it (except the cranberries and mixed seeds) and process very gently until you have a nice thick, rubbly mixture with visible chunks of nuts etc (i.e. not totally smooth!) If you’re feeding very young children, you’ll probably want to aim for a much smoother consistency instead.

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Then add the cranberries and seeds and pulse just until combined – it’s nice to keep these reasonably whole.

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Transfer the mixture to a well-oiled loaf tin and smooth it down with the back of a spoon. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 40-45 minutes or until golden brown (especially around the edges). Leave to cool in the tin until you need it, as it will hold its shape nicely. If you’re eating straight away, let it stand for at least 20 minutes first before turning out.

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Meanwhile, you can make the cranberry sauce if you like. Simply place all the ingredients (except the brandy) into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for around 8-10 minutes, stirring now and again, until the cranberries look nicely smashed up and gloopy.  Remove from the heat and stir in the brandy if using, then let it stand for about ten minutes before pouring over the nut roast. Alternatively, make in advance and just warm it up a bit when you need it.

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Notes:

Fry’s Chicken-Style Strips are a delicious vegan product, found in the freezer at some supermarkets and at Holland & Barrett. If you’re a vegetarian, you could use Quorn chicken chunks instead or any generic supermarket chicken-style meat free strips. Whatever you’re using, just make sure it’s defrosted first. A minute or so in the microwave will do the trick. If you’re really stuck, just use a drained can of cannellini beans instead!
Fry’s Chicken Style Strips at Morrisons

Nutritional Flakes, affectionately known as ‘nooch’, is a really tasty (inactive) flaked yeast product that comes in big tubs from health food shops. It adds a really good slightly cheesy/savoury note and dissolves really quickly, so can be easily added to soups, pasta sauces etc for extra yummy flavour. Nooch is jam-packed with B-vitaimins and protein – well worth sprinkling into your food! If you can’t find it, just leave it out.
Engevita Nutritional Flakes at Holland & Barrett

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