I am not a vegetarian as I eat chicken and fish, but I eat vegetarian meals every week. Part of my vegetarian repertoire is the ‘Cranks” nut roast, which I have been making since about 1983. I was given the Cranks Vegetarian book as a gift and have replaced it since then as it fell apart from over use. I first started making the nut roast as a substitute for Sunday meat roasts. Whenever we have family gatherings, I usually make this in addition to a meat roast. Invariably the meat eaters want both!
I do occasionally use other recipes like the Cashew and Parsnip Nut Roast in Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen for festive occasions. That’s a layered version which always looks nice when sliced, but uses cashews which are a bit expensive for everyday. Recently I have tried Ella’s nut roast from Deliciously Ella with Friends and I quite like it.
Whats the difference?
The Cranks recipe has fewer ingredients and uses wholemeal breadcrumbs and lots of mixed nuts. It uses dried herbs, onions and yeast extract for flavouring. I tend to use a mixture of whatever nuts I have most of in the cupboard. It’s very quick to put together. I also use gluten free breadcrumbs these days and it works just as well. The consistency is crispy and crunchy on top with a softer centre. It has a very savoury taste.
The Ella recipe uses mushrooms, celery and carrots and herbs for flavouring and doesn’t have any bread in it – which is great for me. The consistency of the loaf is creamy which is due to the butternut squash and cashews and pine nuts. I like the texture and flavour but the Cranks recipe is favoured by the other half.
I will probably continue to make both but I can make the Cranks one with my eyes closed so thats what we’ll have when I’m in a hurry. I usually have some GF breadcrumbs in the freezer.
Here’s the recipes so you can try both :
Cranks Nut Roast
- I med onion
- 25g butter
- 225g mixed nuts
- 100g bread or breadcrumbs
- 300ml hot water or stock with 2 tsp yeast extract stirred in
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Salt and Pepper
- Chop the onion and sauté in butter till transparent
- Grind the nuts and bread together until quite fine
- Combine all the ingredients together
- Turn into a greased shallow baking dish and bake at 180 for 30 mins .
- Serve with proper home-made gravy – see below
- I onion
- 1 stick celery
- 50 g butter
- I shake Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbls mushroom ketchup
- 1 heaped tsp redcurrant jelly
- Glass red wine
- 1 pint stock
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté the onion and celery in butter very slowly until the onion turns brown but not burnt – this may take 20 mins or so
Add wine and reduce by half
Add stock and mushroom ketchup, Worcester sauce and redcurrant jelly and season to taste. Simmer for 30 mins.
Mix the cornflour with some water to make a paste. Add to the gravy when you are ready to serve.
Ella’s Herbed Nut Roast
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the pan
- 6 tablespoons pine nuts
- generous ½ cup of cashews
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 7 ounces butternut squash, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- salt and pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 5 ounces mushrooms, finely chopped
- 2 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh tarragon
- A few good gratings of nutmeg
- 5 tablespoons rolled oats
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
- ½ tablespoon ground chia seeds
- Pre Heat the oven to 190 degrees Grease or line a 9″ x 5″ loaf tin
- Toast the pine nuts for 10 mins
- Heat 2 tbsp oil and sauté celery, squash and carrot – when the celery is translucent add the garlic and salt and pepper
- Add mushrooms and cook for 5 mins
- Add nutmeg and herbs
- Place half the nuts in a food processor with the oats and whiz up as fine as they will go.
- Coarsely chop the remaining nuts, so they aren’t too chunky, then add these and the ground nut mixture to the pan. Add the flour and chia seeds and mix well.
- Press into the prepared loaf pan, cover with foil, and bake for 35 minutes. Take the foil off and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a cool rack for 15 minutes
- Cut into slices. Serve with gravy