It is time to share with you my favourite nut roast ever! I have no idea where it actually originated, but I have been eating it for about 25 years and it hails from my earlier years when I was vegetarian. Sadly, I cannot claim it as entirely my own, although I know that I have altered it slightly as the years have progressed. If anyone out there recognises it, please let me know and I would be more than happy to give both credit and gratitude to its creation.
Although it is slightly time consuming to make, it is definitely worth the effort if you are having a celebration (whether you are vegetarian or not). It looks extra special, goes a long way (it will feed 10 to 12 people) and tastes fantastic. If you are replacing for a hot ‘roast’, it goes amazingly well with a tomato-based sauce and can be dressed up with baked fresh pineapple for a fruity twist. I personally love it cold, as the centre-piece of a celebratory or party buffet, and served with a spicy chutney or tasty coleslaw…… yum!
This is one of those dishes I make every year at Christmas…. without fail. Other nut-roasts have rarely come close. To counter the time that it takes to prepare, I generally make two at the same time and pop one in the freezer for another day.
This roast is full of the most amazing ingredients. Its nut base is a combination of cashews in the outer layer and hazelnuts in the stuffing. It is beautifully savoury and fragrant with the addition of a wonderful selection of mediterranean herbs. It is richly cheesy with a goodly handful of sharp mature cheddar. The characteristic depth and nuttiness of the sesame is unmistakable and adds an almost oriental waft across the palate. And as a final treat, it has a hint of a sweet edge from the addition of a touch of honey and the sautéed, slightly caramelised veg.
The combination of flavours and textures is quite unique…… the crisp baked outer coat encases a soft, nutty, cheesy under-layer……. all twisted round a vibrant ribbon of contrastingly nectared leak and carrot stuffing.
If you thought nut roast was……. well…… ‘nut roast’, think again. This nut roast takes it one stage further. Once you have tried it, you will be hooked for good, meat-eater or not!
I say this from experience. I have, over many years, fed it to guests of all ages and all backgrounds and dietary inclinations. I have delivered it to party tables and served it as Sunday lunch. The recipe has been requested over and over again and has been adopted by many friends to be recreated in their own kitchens.
Because it is so fantastic cold, it is also perfect for slicing and taking on picnics and in packed lunches. I confess, I have also enjoyed it way too many times for breakfast, grabbed straight from the fridge, held in hand and munched down without so much as a plate in sight.
Historically, I made this roast with usual wheat-based glutinous breadcrumbs. Since becoming a gluten-avoiding family, I have made it with a number of different GF breads, but would strongly advise using either a more moist homemade crumb or adding a little extra egg if using shop-bought commercial breads which tend to be rather dry in comparison and can easily add their crumbly-nature to the roast. For this particular roast, I used a home-baked oat bread (which I hope to publish soon) which worked beautifully.
This recipe is a keeper. For those of you who venture to make it, I hope it brings as many years and meals of enjoyment as it has for me.
I am sharing this amazing roast with the following challenges this month :
Cooking with Herbs with Karen at Lavender & Lovage who asks us to reach into our winter store cupboards for helpful ingredients. This dish is packed full of good stuff from my larder……. from nuts, herbs and seeds to oil and honey. Perfect for winter cooking!
Recipe of the Week with Emily at A Mummy Too.
Stuffed Cashew Nut Roast (Serves 10 to 12)
- Make the stuffing first : Saute the leek with the oil for about 5 minutes in a large saucepan.
- Add the grated carrots and continue to cook for a further 15 minutes until the carrots are soft – stirring frequently.
- Add and stir in the ground hazelnuts, sesame seeds, sage, thyme and oregano, salt and pepper and honey.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
- Outer roulade layer : Mix the ground cashew nuts with the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley, basil and salt and pepper.
- Stir in the egg yolk and the milk until all the ingredients have blended and you have a thick, sticky mix.
- Cut a large oblong of baking parchment and carefully spread and press the cashew nut mixture into an oblong shape about 1.5 to 2 cm thick.
- When cool, spread the stuffing mixture over the top evenly, leaving a gap of about 2 cm at each long side to allow for both starting the rolling process and sealing the final edge.
- Using the baking paper to help you. carefully roll the roulade from one long side, keeping the roll as tight as possible.
- Gently press the final edge together to seal and smooth with your finger tips. Seal the ends by gently squeezing together. Carefully squeeze together and smooth any cracks that appear.
- Decorate the top of the roulade by carefully pressing whole cashew nuts into the surface.
- Wrap the roulade in baking paper and chill for at least an hour before baking.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4 and base line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
- Place the roulade on the baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes until golden brown. Check occasionally and if it appears to be browning too quickly, place a piece of foil over the top to protect it.
- Serve with chutney or a gravy/sauce of your choice. It goes equally well with a tomato-based sauce or traditional vegetable-stock based gravy.