A Very Vegan Christmas – Vegan Nut Roast
Ok guys, I know that the title of this post won’t necessarily appeal to most readers…but bear with me. You won’t regret it.
Many of you who follow this blog will know that I am a vegetarian, and proud of it – last weekend I passed the 1 year mark and to be honest, it has felt like no time at all.
I won’t go into great detail about my reasonings behind it (have a look here if you want a better idea), but I have learned in the past year that it is easy, and in fact enjoyable, to live a life without meat. I feel healthier, I eat a much wider variety of food than I used to (true story!) and I honestly don’t miss meat at all. I’ll have occasional whimsical conversation with an omnivore (Oh yeah, how tasty is Roast Pork?!) but then I’m on my merry way again, enjoying whatever plant based foods I can get my hands on.
Some friends of mine took it a step further, and have decided to shirk animal-derived food all together and become vegan. I mentioned Ally a few months ago when I went on a beautiful picnic with some amazingly simple and delicious vegan food, and when I moaned to her that I didn’t have any ideas for my end of year Christmas blogging special this year (check back in my archive, it’s a thing) she suggested I do a special on Vegan Christmas food. So that’s what I’m gonna do.
And I’m a little bit excited.
My decorations are up, my christmas wish list has been written, and the gifts that I am planning on buying will magic their way under my tree (I’m on Santa’s nice list so that’s what I’m hoping). I would actually describe my house as ‘Christmas Cheer on Crack’…in other words, Santa has thrown a decorating bomb in the front door and run away with his hands over his head. I can’t help it, I just love decorating!
And no, all those presents under the tree don’t mean Santa has granted my wish – they are gifts from my students that I’m still finding a place for!
The best thing I love about Christmas is the memories behind the decorations. You only bring them out once a year, and it’s so nice to be reminded of the years past when family and friends have come together to celebrate and spend time with one another. I have decorations from my childhood, some from students and friends, and the best of all – home made ones. I made a new wreath this year as a refresher to last years burlap attempt – even better the second time around (and you can find the DIY steps on that cute christmas love heart bunting here)
I even went a step further this year and made some decorations of my own for some very dear friends!
However much I love Christmas though, it’s not as much as these guys. Trent and Loretta, seriously, you guys kill me every time. Every year is better than the last. Please don’t ever stop.
When it comes to Christmas food, I have found that the roast meat is only a small part of a much larger production. And because it is such a small part, it is easy to replace. The variety of food on Christmas day means that your protein should be taken care of, especially if you include gorgeous sides with plenty of pulses, legumes, and nuts.
The original recipe for this loaf included eggs and cheese. I simply replaced the eggs with vegan ‘eggs’ and got rid of the cheese all together, however if you don’t want to make it 100% vegan I have put down how many eggs to use. This recipe included flax meal (ground linseed) and cashews, both natural sources of protein (not to mention all the colourful veggies!).
Many people find vegan food boring and downright scary – but I’m hoping to show you that it doesn’t need to be either of those things. You need to remember that it’s not meat, and it’s not pretending to be meat. It’s an amazing genre of food all to itself. You just gotta know how to do it!
Vegan Nut Loaf
25g olive oil
300g cashews – toasted and salted
1.5 cups of breadcrumbs (Fun Fact! I toasted my own sourdough and crumbed it myself in the blender as a lot of breadcrumb brands available in the supermarket contain milk products – a no-no in vegan food)
200g button mushrooms
1 brown onion
2 sticks of celery
1 small red chilli, seeds removed
2tbs flax meal (2 eggs)
Several Sage Leaves
1/2 red capsicum
1/2 brown onion
1bs flax meal (1 egg)
mini truss tomatoes
Preheat your oven to 150ºC and grease and line a 20cmx8cm loaf tin. Set aside.
Prepare your flax eggs by combining the flax meal and water, and refrigerate them for 15 minutes (keep the two flax eggs separate from the filling flax egg).
Slice the mushrooms and finely dice the onion, celery and chilli. Combine with oil and heat over a medium-high heat for ten minutes, or until mushrooms are golden and vegetables are soft.
Transfer to a bowl, and stir in breadcrumbs, processed cashews and chopped sage, and season with salt and pepper. Finally, stir through the two flax eggs.
Press half the mixture into your baking tray and set aside the other half for the top layer.
To make the filling, finely dice all your vegetables and fry over low heat until softened. Try to cook off most of the liquid.
Add your final flax egg, season with salt and pepper, and layer on top of the bottom layer of your loaf. It may look like a lot, but you’ll be grateful when you get a nice colourful streak in the middle of your loaf (which I did not have as I did not use it all – I had some leftover and had it on toast for lunch!).
Finally, add the remainder of your crumb mixture and press down firmly.
Place in the oven for 45 minutes.
Lightly oil your mini truss tomatoes and place in the oven until soft (about 20 minutes before the end of your bake). Garnish the bake with the tomatoes and some basil leaves.
You’d think this would be super salty because of the cashews, but it’s not. Mine was a bit crumbly due to the flax eggs, but I really didn’t mind. It is a warm, crunchy, chewy delicious mixture to enjoy with any sides you desire – perfect with some crunchy roast potatoes, some maple roasted carrots, and some generous lashings of gravy.
Speaking of add-ons, stay tuned next week for the next Very Vegan Christmas special – a vegan dessert no less!