With cool winter nights approaching, it is nice to cook up hearty warming dinners. Using the oven provides the added bonus of filling the house with warmth as well as mouth-watering aromas. A traditional roast is one way to achieve this, but sometimes it is nice to try something different. Here is a tasty vegetarian option that combines an array of vegetables – onions, mushrooms, beetroot and beans – that provide satisfying earthy, umami (savoury) flavours. Leftovers of this loaf are delicious sliced and fried in a little butter and served with a fried egg for breakfast.
Vegetarian Nutty Loaf
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 Tablespoon rosemary, chopped
1 ½ cup grated beetroot (or carrot)
1 Tablespoon molasses
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
150g nuts – almonds, cashew, peanut, or a mixture
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 x 400g tin borlotti or black beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and gently fry until soft. Add the mushrooms and rosemary, fry for 2 minutes. Add the grated beetroot, molasses, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Cook until the liquid has reduced for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Turn the oven on to preheat to 180C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Put the nuts into a food processor and give a quick blitz to roughly chop. Then add the breadcrumbs, beans, parsley, nutmeg and cooked onion/mushroom/beetroot mix. Season with a little salt and pepper. Give a quick blitz to combine and then taste test. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Add the eggs and give another blitz until the mixture is well combined and the eggs mixed through. Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin and smooth down the top. Put into the preheated oven and bake at 180C for 45 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes, before removing from the tin and slicing to serve.
Serve with roasted vegetables (the oven is already on, might as well make use of it) and steamed seasonal veg (or the Warm Winter Coleslaw from MM 6 July 2016). To make it gluten-free use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free soy sauce. To make it nut-free, for those with a nut allergy, swap out the nuts for sunflower and pumpkin seeds.