When Johanna announced she was holding a Nut Roast event, there was immediately a nut roast in my mind that I wanted to try for the occasion - Mrs Myrtleberry's Roast from World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown. What I didn't know at this stage was the number of attempts it was going to take me to transform this recipe into a vegan nut roast.
The recipe takes it's name from the original creator, Mrs Myrtleberry a B&B owner in Devon, England and uses a mixture of nuts that are lightly toasted to bring out their flavour. The other main ingredients are chopped shallots, tomatoes, herbs, eggs and cheese.
My initial thought was that 3 eggs and 150g cheese wasn't going to be hard to substitute and as I didn't believe that the cheese would have much impact on the overall texture, I didn't bother using cheezly the first time. I used 125g silken tofu and a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast for my first attempt which failed miserably. I should correct myself and say that only the texture was a fail, as the taste was very nice and left-overs were enjoyed in sandwiches for days to come. This nut roast was baked for over an hour and still was not firm to the touch. My vegan substitutions were in need of some work!
After the first texture failure, I became more incensed about getting this right. The recipe was perused even more carefully. I realised that I had used tomato passata last time rather than a tin of tomatoes and wondered whether that had made the mixture too runny and led to my texture woes. Perhaps the loaf tin wasn't the right choice? Did I have too many other roasting vegetables competing for the heat of the oven? So much to consider...
For the second attempt I used ground flaxseed plus water instead of the silken tofu, and cheezly was included this time. Again the nut roast was baked for an hour and felt pretty firm by this time, however when it was time to slice it up, the middle of the roast was still not firm enough. It was interesting to note that the texture seemed to become firmer as the nut roast cooled down.
A couple of weeks slipped by but there was no way I was going to let this nut roast get the better of me. The second effort was much closer to a satisfactory result so I settled upon making it this way again with an additional filler to assist with soaking up the moisture. There was some cooked brown rice on hand so a cup was added to the mixture. I won't say it turned out perfectly, however it was a pleasing result after so many trials and tribulations.
Nut roast sandwiches have become popular at home with all of this recent activity so this gives me incentive to keep making them and I'm sure there will be heaps of great new nut roast recipes to try from Johanna's event.
Mrs Myrtleberry's Roast (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics)
50g pine nuts
4 small shallots, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked brown rice
150g grated cheezly
1 cup tomato passata2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons (or more) of fresh herbs of your choice (basil, mint, parsley)
salt and pepper, to taste
Cook the nuts in batches in a dry frying pan. Heat over a medium flame, stirring gently until golden and fragrant. Remove to your food processor bowl and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 200C. Line a lamington tin with baking paper and grease with olive oil. Mix the ground flaxseed thoroughly with 6 tablespoons of water and allow to sit for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, mix thoroughly the ground nuts with the shallots, garlic, rice, cheezly, passata, flaxseed/water mixture, dried sage, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour or until firm and golden. Cool slightly, then turn out on to a serving plate and peel off baking paper. Serve with a rich tomato sauce or gravy.