What is your favourite part of Christmas dinner? Mine is the turkey stuffing. Since becoming a vegetarian, Christmas, thanksgiving and other traditional meat-eating holidays have to be redesigned as vegetarian. While living in Brighton, I enjoyed many vegan nut roasts and vegan Christmas dinners at the Cowley Club. As there is no Cowley Club here in Victoria, and my family is here, I decided to try my hand at a nut roast.
An internet search produced a couple of recipes that appeal to me, and a search in my recipe books produced an Italian vegetarian loaf. None of the recipes delivered exactly what I was looking for, but each contributed.
I took the grated carrots, mashed potatoes, mushrooms and parmesan from the Vegetable Loaf (p. 96, Italian Vegetarian Cooking, by Jo Marcangelo, Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont). The nuts, pastry, celery and cheese came from the Savvy Vegetarian, and the cheese, bread crumbs and fresh sage came from The Guardian Word Of Mouth.
A little of this, a little of that; cooking, mixing, tasting – a visit to my mother with a bowl of the mixture – taste, discuss, and 3 shots of sherry later (sherry in the mixture) – and I was back in my kitchen with smoked gouda and cheddar to lace into the filo pastry surrounding my nut roast Christmas stuffing.
Here are the ingredients, along with method, in order of preparation:
- Put 1 medium-large potato, cubed (2 1/2 cups) to cook in water just to cover, with a little salt.
- Meanwhile preheat a non-stick pan over medium low heat.
- Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic, and toss in heated pan with a drizzle of olive oil
- Thinly slice (what wonderful tool a kitchen-mandolin is) 1 leek – use only the white part and add to the garlic
- and 1 medium yellow onion, chopped.
Saute all together until soft.
- Add one leaf of the green part of the leek – thinly sliced – to the potatoes cooking on the stove; this is to flavour the water to use a broth later.
- Thinly slice half a sweet potato (about a cup and a half) and add to the leek-garlic-onion mixture, cover and cook over low heat until they are tender.
- Thinly slice about a pound of brown mushrooms. Again I used the mandolin and sliced up about 3 cups of mushrooms.
- Add to the leek-garlic-onion-sweet potato mixture, salt and pepper to taste, cover and cook over medium-low heat until softened and tender.
By now the potato is cooked. Drain and reserve the liquid.
- Measure the potato-leek broth, and add enough water to make up 1 and 1/2 cups of liquid. Add 1/2 cup quinoa, cover, and return to the stove to cook. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Blend the cooked potato with a beater, like a hand hand held wand. Set aside in large mixing-bowl.
Toast in a non-stick pan:
- 2 T sesame seeds
- 2 T pumpkin seeds
- 2 T sunflower seed
- Grind a blend of nuts. I used an electric coffee grinder. These are the nuts:
- 2 T cashews
- 2 T almonds
- several whole Brazil nuts.
Grind so as to make a fine mix, but take out some partially ground nuts and reserve to mix with the final blend.
- Add the ground nuts to the fry pan and lightly toast over a medium-low heat.
- 1 T chopped fresh sage
- 1 T chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp celery seed, ground in the heel of your hand
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
- Mix altogether and by now the quinoa should be cooked. Add to the mixture.
- 1 cup grated raw carrot
- 3 cups finely chopped baby spinach – uncooked
- 100 grams mashed tofu
- 1 and 1/2 cups fine bread crumbs
- 3 shots of dry sherry
- 2 T HP sauce
Mix all together and let stand at room temperature a few hours to allow all the flavours to blend. Now here is the tricky part:
- Take a pkg of filo pastry and dot with a mix of thinly sliced smoked gouda and cheddar.
- Spread with the mixture.
- Roll up like a jelly roll, using 6 layers or filo.
- Insert sliced cheese in the ends and roll up (with the cheese inside)Place the rolled logs in a pan oiled with olive olive.
- Brush the pastry logs with butter and olive oil and sprinkle with grated Spanish Manchego cheese.
- Bake at 350F 25-30 minutes.
Allow to cool to just slightly warmer than room temperature, slice and serve.
This recipe makes enough for two 12 x 5 inch logs. Each log is plenty for 6 people as a main dish. If you have a small group for dinner, you can freeze one to bake at a later date.