Friday, July 01, 2005

Just 'cause you love meatloaf doesn't mean you can't love vegetables. Good food is good food and creative competent cooks can be meat eaters and not. Well, my friend Bill is a meat eater and his girlfriend Keri is not. So Bill cooks phenomenal vegetarian dishes when he is at home and eats meat when he is out with friends.

Because of this I asked Bill to send me his recipe for nut roast. It is a great dish (so is Bill) and I thought it needed to be shared. It is a great example of vegetarian cooking that isn't bland or boring, isn't a poor copy of a meat dish and is better than the sum of its parts. So here you go.

Vegetarian Nut Roast with Miso Gravy

You won’t believe how delicious this nut roast is especially when it’s smothered in rich miso gravy, which tastes like the real thing. But it’s purely veg – perfect for those nostalgic vegetarians who pine for the flavour of gravy on special occasions – or any time, for that matter. Don’t assume this dish is just for vegetarians, either. The biggest meat-eater I know tried this nut roast and he loved it. It’s perfect as a side dish, too. But you absolutely must to try the gravy on some mashed potatoes.

Vegetarian Nut Roast

1 large onion
2 large cloves garlic
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup olive oil
1 cup whole unsalted cashew nuts
1 cup whole pecan nuts
1 cup white bread, torn into pieces
1 cup vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
thyme leaves


1 x 284 gram bag spinach
2 cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 shiitake mushroom, sliced, cut in medium dice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 cup white bread, torn into pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable stock


1. Preheat the oven to 400º F.

2. Grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin with parchment paper. Use a pair of scissors to cut the paper into two strips – one strip to fit the length and one for the width of the tin. Make sure there is enough paper hanging over the edge so that you can easily pull the paper up to remove the nut roast from the tin. Make sure the parchment paper is greased, as well.

3. In a medium-sized saucepan, lightly sauté the onions in a combination of olive oil and butter until tender but not brown. Remove from the heat.

4. Grind the cashews and pecans in the food processor with the bread and garlic and add to the sautéed onion in the saucepan (off the heat), together with the boiled vegetable stock, fresh thyme leaves and salt and pepper.

5. Let this mixture stand while preparing the stuffing.

6. Wash the spinach leaves, break off and discard the stems.

7. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with salted water and bring to a boil. Fill a small bowl with ice water and place near saucepan on stove.

8. Plunge spinach leaves in boiling water and blanch for 1-2 minutes.

9. Immediately remove spinach from boiling water with a slotted spoon and drop into the ice water in order to cold-shock it. The spinach will retain its vivid green colour this way.

10. Drain and thoroughly squeeze excess water from spinach. Set aside in small bowl.

11. Put shiitake mushrooms into a different bowl and drizzle sherry vinegar and olive oil over top.

12. Add chopped garlic and thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Let stand for 10 minutes to absorb flavours.

13. In a small skillet, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until it turns translucent. Add mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes or until they are tender and the juices have released. Let cool.

14. Grind bread, spinach and mushroom mixture in food processor and moisten with vegetable stock, if necessary.

15. Pour half of the nut mixture into the prepared tin, top with all of the stuffing, then spoon the rest of the nut mixture on top.

16. Dot with the remaining butter and stand the tin another larger tin to catch any drippings.

17. Bake for 30 minutes or until it turns deep brown. Remove from oven.

18. Cool for a minute in the tin, then slip a knife around the sides. Turn the nut roast out onto a cutting board and strip off the parchment paper strips.

19. Cut roast into slices and serve fanned out on a platter. Serve with miso gravy.

Miso Gravy
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 carrot, peeled, finely, diced
1 finely diced stalk celery
1 finely diced medium Onion
1 leek, (white part only), rinsed, finely, diced
1/2 cup white wine
2 cups canned vegetable stock
1 tbsp barley miso, soybean paste available from any health store
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh parsley, with stem, cut in 3 parts
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a skillet, over medium heat, saute the carrot, onion, celery and leek in the vegetable oil until caramel-y on the edges and the pan is fairly dry.

2. Add the wine and bring to a medium boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any brown bits into the liquid. Simmer until most of the wine has evapourated.

3. Add the vegetable stock, Miso, soy sauce, thyme and parsley and stir until Miso is dissolved. Bring up to the boil then reduce to medium low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let the herbs steep in the liquid for about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Strain the sauce with a fine sieve. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer over medium high heat. Mix the cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in a measuring cup and stir together with a fork.

5. Add the cornstarch mixture to the gravy and simmer until it thickens slightly.

6. Keep warm until ready to serve, or refrigerate and warm up when ready to go.

1 comment:

Sami Lama said...

Mmmm ... that receipe looks good. Anything that has miso gravy has to be tried! Bill is probably the best cook out of my guy friends.