The main star of this picnic feast was a nut roast. For the non British folks – nut roast is a centre piece onto everyone´s (who is veggies-based) Christmas table. Well, that was the tradition in Britain, to make it nuts-packed, moist, herby and make it properly once a year. Nowdays, people love it so much they make it their ´show-stopper´ every Sunday for the traditional roast lunch. I was very curious in trying it, but never had the chance. Up until now.
When I started working in a restaurant, I was a waitress. But by looking at the chef all times a day; by asking him tons and tons of questions, he has noticed my slightly obssesive behaviour when it comes to food. Nothing to be worried about. And, they offered me a place in the kitchen, where I can work two-three times a week. Preparing breakfast and lunches, baking bread rolls, helping with desserts. You can tell, I was amazed.
Our head chef, Blake, is the master of preparing scrumptious meats. He knows what he is doing with every piece of flesh that gets through his fingers. But, I can´t tell you as I have never tasted his creations. Judging by the smell and by our guest´s reviews, he is one of the best.
But, what I could try, is his nut roast. Oh my, oh my. Delicious, nutty, moist, flavoursome, full of character. I was watching him very closely everytime he was making them until I was brave enough to re-create his famous nut roast at home. And, to be honest, I think I nailed it. Try it yourself, serve it on top of roasted vegetables, next to a tamari brown rice, lemony quinoa or simply on top of a sourdough bread with avocado and tomatoes. Or wrap it up in a pretty leaf of red or savoy cabbage, drizzle with mustard dressing. Possibilities are endless. Go wild.
I served mine wrapped up in a crunchy red cabbage leaf with lovely salad leaves next to a corn on the cob drizzled with homemade chimichurri sauce. And with juicy apples on a side.
Very Special Nut Roast
(makes 4 patties)
300g mixed mushrooms (I used chestnut and some portabello, but field mushrooms are great as well)
1/2 big onion (or 1 smaller one)
3 cloves of garlic
5 springs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
generous pinch of fresh or frozen parsley leaves
1/2 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup walnuts
zest of 1 organic lemon
Drizzle some olive oil over your saucepan. Chop up your onion and put it in your sauce pan. Cook over a low heat until soft, golden brown and caramelised. Add finely chopped garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Brush off any dirt from your mushrooms and chop them up. Add them to your onion base with herbs and cook, stirring occasionaly, for about 15 minutes, until fragrant and browned. The mushrooms will shrink, but you will have enough, no worries.
In different pan, toast together hazelnuts and walnuts until fragrant. Don´t burn them as this can happen within seconds. Rub the hazelnuts between your fingers when cool enough to handle, to get rid off some of their bitter skin. Tip them into a food processor and blend until you get a rough flour (with some chunk of nuts left) . Try not to over blend them, otherwise you would get a nut butter. Which is great, but not so much for making a nut roast :) You can do this by using a pestal and mortar.
Blend your mushroom mixture by using a hand blender (or your food processor). Put the mixture into a bowl and add your ground nuts, lemon zest, pinch of sea salt and a tiny bit of black pepper. Using your hand, mix the mixture. You are looking for a moist consistency. The mixture should hold together nicely when pressed together. Taste for seasoning.If the mixture is too wet for some reason, simply add more almond meal.
Form into 4 patties and put on a baking paper.
You can now freeze them, cook them, bake them or grill them.
If you want to cook them, heat up a small amout of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil in a sauce pan over a medium heat. When hot, put your patties on a pan and pan-fry until golden brown on both sides. These hold together brilliantly, but still, be gentle when flipping them on the other side.
If you want to bake them, put them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Brush them with olive oil and bake at 200°C for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown, turning them half-way through.
Enjoy and let me know what you think of them :) I love reading your messages, so get in touch with me with any questions or comments :)