I know a nut loaf sounds retro, but this nut loaf is a bit more sophisticated than the nut loaves of old, it’s really scrumptious and hasn’t got a single lentil in it. It’s packed with the amazing flavours of porcini mushrooms, parmesan and cashew nuts and it’s got a great texture which comes from the shiitake mushrooms. It’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans at Thanksgiving and Christmas or any time there is a roast (It’s even delicious sliced cold from the fridge and put in a sandwich, with cranberry sauce and mayo)
Jo Fairly kindly wrote to me to say she has made a vegan version by replacing the eggs with 250ml of Bonsoy soya milk, instead of the eggs and the 150ml of milk, btw not ordinary plant based milk as it won’t work as well, and she swapped the parmesan for vegan parmesan which is now available in supermarkets or health food stores. I can’t wait to try it.
Serve it with my vegetarian gravy, which is also vegan, my cranberry sauce and the rest of the trimmings.
150g of dryish white bread crumbs
150ml of milk (or dairy free milk)
2 large eggs
30g of butter or olive oil plus a bit more for greasing the loaf tin
20g of dried porcini mushrooms (I get the cheaper porcini pieces in the supermarket) steeped in boiling water for 15 mins, drained and chopped
100g mushrooms chopped into small pieces (I use shiitake)
1 teaspoon of English mustard
1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
2-3 teaspoons of Tabasco
1 egg white
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
1 medium onion very finely chopped
2 medium celery sticks very finely chopped
Zest of one lemon
200g of chopped raw cashew nuts
100g chopped raw walnuts
1 large carrot finely grated
75g of Parmesan or vegan parmesan
A handful of polenta
Salt and pepper
1 large loaf tin, mine is approx for a one and a half pound loaf
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg white with the milk and then tip in the breadcrumbs and mix. Leave for 15 mins.
Melt the butter or oil in a frying pan and gently fry the chopped mushrooms till softened, then add the celery and onion, stir frying gently till soft or for about ten minutes. Leave to cool.
Next, put the rest of the ingredients (except the polenta) into the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture with the cooked mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste.
Stir with a big spoon till everything is mixed properly. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180°C /350°F. Grease the loaf tin and sprinkle in the polenta and shake the tin gently till the polenta covers all of the inside of it.
Spoon in the mixture, and press down with the spoon. Cover with oiled tin foil and bake for 40 mins, then remove the foil and cook for another 20 mins then leave to rest out of the oven for 5 minutes in the tin. Cooking times can vary from oven to oven, and depends on the amount of other stuff cooking in it at the same time…at Christmas the oven is usually full right up with all the other things cooking at the same time, this can slow down the cooking process on all the food in there, so you might have to cook it for longer, just make sure it’s really firm and browned.
When it’s ready, turn it out of the tin onto a serving plate or board, (I decorated mine with frozen cranberries) then slice thickly and serve.
Great with cranberry sauce and of course the rest of the Christmas fare.
Lastly and alternatively you can put the mixture in the prepared loaf tin wrapped in cling film and put it in the freezer for up to a month before Christmas or thanksgiving and defrost overnight in the fridge and cook as above.