Guilt-free incredibly plant-based nut loaf

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Plant-based version of Jamie Oliver's Incredible Nut Roast

My plant-based version of Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Nut Roast. Photo: Kristi Garrett

Eating a plant-based diet is certainly not all beans and greens. With a little flexibility, many recipes can be easily adapted to a no-oil, all-plant meal.

I was especially excited to see Jamie Oliver’s Incredible Nut Roast come across my Instagram feed recently. His vegetarian recipe looked, well, incredible. So I thought I’d give it a try with some plant-based modifications.

This was easier said than done — but, surprisingly, not because of the ingredients. You see, Chef Oliver is British and I am American.

Oh, you think we speak the same language? I beg to differ.

Review the chef’s original Incredible Nut Roast recipe, and you’ll notice some perplexing notations:

“150 g onion squash”
“400 g tin of plum tomatoes”
“Place a roasting tray on the hob”

The g’s were easy enough to decipher as grams. Brits are on the metric system. Hmm. (Why, oh, why, can’t Americans get with the international program?)

After some not-inconsiderable research and trial and error, I translated the quantities to American. Excuse me — I mean U.S. customary volume units. Then after Googling “hob” and figuring out it meant the stove-top burner, I was ready to roll.

Here’s my version of Oliver’s original, made completely plant-based. I’ve simply left out the butter and oil, using water or vegetable broth to sauté the veggies. The roasting pan is not greased, nor does it need to be. The loaf is moist and since it has no animal ingredients, it does not stick to the pan. I’ve also eliminated the cheese, although that’s optional. I tried it with a vegan cheese but liked it better without. As with all recipes, use what you like.

The finished loaf is incredibly satisfying and hearty. Slice up the cold leftovers for a great mock meatloaf sandwich!

Incredibly plant-based nut loaf

Serves 8

Ingredients:

½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup Kabocha, butternut or other dense squash, peeled and cubed
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 stalks celery
1 5.2 ounce vacuum packed chestnuts (if chestnuts are not available substitute ½ cup walnuts, macadamia nuts or hazel nuts, but be advised those are much higher in fat)
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 lemon, zest of
½ cup breadcrumbs
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ cup (5 pieces) dried apricots, diced
½ cup mixed nuts, such as walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and brazil nuts, finely chopped
¼ cup flaxseed meal
¾ cup water

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flaxseed meal and ¾ cup water and set aside.

Cook quinoa in ¾ cup water and allow to cool. Halve the squash and scoop out seeds; peel skin and slice squash into ½ inch slices. Then dice into ½ inch cubes. Measure out 1 cup of raw cubed squash and set aside.

Peel and dice onion and chop garlic. Trim and dice celery. If you’re not using chestnuts, chop up the substituted nuts. Chop mushrooms.

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable broth or water in sauté pan. Add onion, celery, garlic and squash. Crumble in chestnuts, or add substituted nuts once vegetables have softened. Add the fresh rosemary leaves, discarding the stalks.

Add cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir well and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the squash is softened. (Keep adding a couple of tablespoons of water when pan gets dry.) Add chopped mushrooms during the final 5 minutes of cooking.

Transfer vegetable mixture to a large mixing bowl. If you haven’t already done so, chop up apricots and mixed nuts. (You may use a food processor for about 20 pulses to chop the nuts). Add the zest of one half a lemon to the mixing bowl along with the cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and nuts. Mix in the liquefied flaxseed meal, which will have become gooey. This is your binding agent to replace the eggs.

Turn the mixture into a 13×9-inch baking pan and form it into a loaf about 2 inches high. Bake in hot oven about one hour.

About 30 minutes before the loaf is done, prepare the salsa.

Spicy Tomato Salsa

I’ve made this with red jalapenos and stick cinnamon, as the original recipe suggests, but found that the flavors popped better with dried spices and sweet red pepper. I’ll give you both options; decide for yourself.

Ingredients:

Option 1:
2 fresh red chilies (jalapeno peppers)
1 stick cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 15.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Option 2:
½ large red bell pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
¾ teaspoon dried thyme
2 15.5 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

Option 1:
Warm a large sauté pan over medium heat and add whole chili peppers. Once skins begin to brown and pop, add a few tablespoons of broth or water and sauté onion and garlic until vegetables are soft and translucent.

Add in sprigs of fresh thyme, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until thickened and reduced.

Once salsa is ready, remove one chili pepper from pan. Carefully halve and deseed the pepper. Chop the pepper and return it to the pan. Spoon some of the sauce over the fully cooked nut loaf and top with the extra whole chili pepper and cinnamon stick, along with any extra sprigs of thyme or rosemary. Serve with extra sauce as desired.

Option 2:
Warm a few tablespoons of broth or water in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped bell pepper, onion and garlic and sauté until vegetables are soft and translucent.

Add thyme, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, until thickened and reduced. Once salsa is ready, spoon some of the sauce over the fully cooked nut loaf. Serve with extra sauce as desired.

Serving suggestion:

Jaime Oliver suggests serving the loaf with mashed potatoes and seasonal greens, to which we say ‘Yes, please!’

Are you a plant-based eater? Tell us about your journey in the comments!

Kristi Garrett

Kristi Garrett is the Publisher, Editor and Chief Veggie Enthusiast of Little Green Wheelbarrow. After 16 years in journalism and corporate communications, she figures it's time to get some dirt under her nails.

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