Nut Roast and a Tale of Three Bunnies

Serves: 8 – 12
Cost: ~€4 – 7, depending on the cost of nuts
Preparation and cooking time: ~80 minutes
Calories: ~340 per serving, if divided between 8 people

Happy Sunday everyone – I hope you’re all getting into the festive spirit, if you celebrate Christmas, or just enjoying December if you don’t. I’ll be making up a batch of mincemeat in the week. No Christmas for me is complete without a plateful of Mince Pies and while I am trying to have a leaner holiday this year it just wouldn’t be the same without a couple of my favourite Yuletide pastries. If you’ve never tried them, I cannot recommend them highly enough so do try to give them a try if you have a chance. In case you find the idea of suet a bit off-putting then shop around: you can get vegetarian suet, which consists of hydrogenated vegetable fats, rolled in flour. The difference in the final effect after cooking is negligible – at least to this guy, who admittedly doesn’t have a massive wealth of experience in cooking with the stuff.

We’ll be getting our tree within the next few days, although it’s going to be a smaller one this year. We had to move a fair few things around when William was born and as such just don’t really have the space to devote to a massive bushy tree. Before my recipe today though I wanted to share with you an experience I had during last week though which… let’s say “troubled me somewhat”.

I like to try and take a walk with William during the week. It’s getting chilly out these days, but I wrap him up in his little snow-suit, put him in the sling in front of me, button my coat over the front and off I go. I try and get out about three or four times a week, and walk for about 40 minutes to an hour. William falls asleep quite quickly, and not only is it great to get out and stretch my legs after being stuck in an office all day, but it also gives me some very special time to bond with my son – with the added benefit of giving my wife a break for a bit to do… well, anything she wants, without any risk that the shower she’s taking will suddenly get cut short by little Will, deciding he’s had enough of bashing his little jingly ball with his fist. Anyway – there we were, striding along in the crisp night air and I come across a cat-carrier, neatly placed by the side of the road. As I approach I’m thinking nothing of it – someone must have left it out for the trash, but as I get closer I realise that something’s moving inside. I peer round in through the door and notice that there is not one, not two, but three young rabbits inside, sitting atop a giant pile of hay.

“Well isn’t that just wonderful”, I think. I’m not really quite sure what to do at this point. It’s fairly obvious that they’ve been abandoned there, in such a way that “someone else” would “find” them in the morning. I don’t really consider myself an animal “lover”… at least not to the same extent that some people are. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy their company. My apartment wouldn’t be the same without my lovely cat – I like it when he snuggles up next to me purring, I laugh when he does his evening business and shoots out of his litter-box like something bit his tail. He brings a warm presence to the place! Some day I wouldn’t mind getting a dog too, but I’m certainly not the kind of person who would ever value the life of an animal over that of a human. What I do consider myself to be though is an animal “respecter”. I was raised to have respect for other people and other animals, and part of that includes not dumping your unwanted pet by the side of the road. Seriously, asshole, if you get an animal you’re taking on a responsibility. A responsibility of care and if you decide that you don’t want it anymore, or can’t care for it anymore… re-home it. Ask some friends if they want it; take it to an animal shelter; at the very least you could cough-up €50 or whatever it costs to have it put down humanely, instead of dying in a box on the street.

Sadly, not only small animals, but even larger ones like cats and dogs are all too readily available in pet stores and I don’t like to even think of how many creatures are going to be dumped somewhere or just maltreated come January, when the excitement of the new puppy wears off and the family realises that he’s chewing on everything in site, or pooping everywhere, or that gifted pet guinea-pig no longer seems quite so cute once the child realises it’s going to have to clean out it’s poop covered litter for the next ten years or so :(. Back to the bunnies though – I don’t know if you’d consider this as being a happy ending – in the end my wife and I took them to the police station down the road (seriously, what else should I do?). The officer on duty looked rather bemused but did take them in the end and said that he’d get animal control to come and pick them up. No idea what happened from then on, but hey – at least they weren’t stuck in a box by the road all night :).

Nut Roast

Anyway rant over – sorry if I bored you – and now onto a happier, and more tasty topic. With Christmas coming up I’m sure many of you will be thinking of a wonderful turkey (or duck, goose, capon, etc…) lunch. What about our poor veggie friends though? What can they eat in place of the traditional Christmas turkey? This is something my mother used to make a lot (which my sister and I used to rather rudely call a “nut gross”, but I promise it’s not!) which I have modified over time, and it is a perfect alternative to meat as part of a traditional roast dinner platter, or even in addition. It’s incredibly adaptable – you can add grated cheese, adjust the herbs, the nuts, even pack in some chopped figs or apricots, or a slosh of brandy for a more festive touch. In this example I used quinoa, but I’ve also previously used brown rice – both of which work very well.

My one point of sorrow is that it’s… ahem… not the most beautiful of dishes once cooked. It’s kind of a grey mass inside, but I hope this won’t dissuade you. I assure you that it’s actually very, very tasty, and definitely well worth a try!

I’ll be back soon – you may have noticed that my posting frequency has decreased a great deal from once every three days to once every… five, six days. I’m having to take a rather laissez-faire approach to my site right now because life is pretty darn busy, but I’m still here, and not going anywhere – fear not! :). Have a great day everyone!

Nut Roast

Ingredients

Nut Roast ingredients

  • 100g uncooked Quinoa
  • 4tbsps Olive Oil
  • 160g Mushrooms
  • 2 Onions
  • ~3 or 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 125g Walnuts
  • 200g Almonds
  • 200g prepared (cooked, peeled) Chestnuts
  • 500ml Vegetable Stock
  • 2tsps dried Thyme
  • 3 Eggs
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

You’ll also need

  • A Food Processor
  • A large Loaf Tin

Instructions

  1. Start off by preheating your oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Next cook your quinoa until done. Packet instructions may vary, but I find cooking the quinoa in boiling water for 10-12 minutes is usually sufficient. Once the quinoa is ready drain off the excess water and allow to cool while you’re preparing the rest of the ingredients.
    Boiling the quinoa
  2. Next, peel and finely chop the onion and garlic and thinly slice the mushrooms.
    Chopping the vegetables
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and when hot add in the onion and garlic and fry for a few minutes until starting to soften. Add in the mushrooms and allow to cook through for another few minutes. While the mushrooms are gently frying place the almonds and walnuts into your food processor and pulse until the nuts are broken down into a mixture between a coarse powder with chunks remaining.
    Chopping the nuts
  4. Chop the chestnuts roughly and then add into the large pan with the mushrooms and onions. Add in the chopped nuts as well and then add the stock, quinoa, thyme and a liberal twist of salt and pepper. Bring the pan to a simmer and allow the stock to reduce down a little, stirring regularly, until you have a thick mixture. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before adding in the eggs and mixing well. Transfer the mixture into your large loaf tin.
    Uncooked nut roast batter
  5. Place the tin into the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving. Slices can be best cut from the loaf when it’s cold, but if you don’t care so much about neat slices then you can serve it out any way you like while it’s still hot. Enjoy! :)
    Nut Roast



    Nut Roast

Comments

  1. says

    How have you been, sorry for being MIA…still catching up. You know I love chestnuts. My friend told me there is a orchard near us (well not very close, but near enough) where we can pick chestnuts. I didn’t know there is such place exist around here. However, the season is October and it’s too late. All chestnuts I find nowadays are so tiny!! Next year I need go there and make all kinds of chestnut recipes… this one looks wonderful, Charles!

    • says

      Hi Nami, there’s a LOT of chestnut trees in the forests surrounding my home. Last year (2011) we were planning on going to get some and we left it until we thought it was the perfect weekend… wonderful weather, and we drove up to where most of the chestnut trees are concentrated, quite far away in the middle of the forest, and…… I’ve never seen so many cars in one small place. So many people, parked everywhere they can, all with bags, picking chestnuts – LOL! Oh well :D

  2. says

    Well done to you Charles for being a responsible Animal Respecter. I so agree with what you say and am glad you came across those rabbits and did what you did. Honestly, some people, words fail me. On to your recipe. Nut roast had bad press in the past (along with lentil bake) but this is a luxury one and I´d forgo (forgoe?) the meat for this!

  3. says

    Thankfully the you and your wife were at the right place at the right time. Maybe one of the officers gave the bunnies away as a pet to family or friends.

    I’m intrigued by this roast, very interesting and looks like a great hearty vegetarian meal. Great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber can’t go wrong!

    I understand about being busy, I too feel bad I haven’t been posting often or responding to my blog friends with my site. We all understand you have a new little family that they come first. I hope you enjoy every minute of this holiday season, it’s going by too quickly!

    • says

      Hi Lisa – I hope something good happened to the rabbits in the end. Will never understand how people can do that!

      We called this “the never-ending loaf” in our home. It lasted for about 5 meals and it’s packed with fibre! So many ways to customise it too… cheese is a great addition – really recommend it :)

  4. says

    Poor bunnies, you know I have such a soft spot for bunnies; but you did the right thing Charles, bunnies àre not the easiest pets to look after and ironically, they are not kid friendly. The abandon behaviour really mskes me livid! At least for the most part Toronto people take their unwanted pets to the animal shelter, buts that’s usually an unhappy ending too.
    What an interesting loaf, would you serve it with a gravy or sauce? Mmmmm, a nice little chutney would be great with it!

    • says

      Hi Eva – indeed, I seem to remember you wrote a post last year, right? Advising people not to give pets for Christmas…!

      For the roast – absolutely… swap it in, in place of meat in a roast dinner, along with gravy or a similar sauce and you’re good to go! Chutney’s a great idea too, yum!

  5. says

    Well, looks don’t deter me from much. I mean those no bake cookies aren’t the most appetizing looking little bites, but you know how I feel about those. I imagine this is probably delicious too. Although I have to laugh at what you and your sister used to call them. Sounds like something my sister and I would do.

    And I’m so glad you brought the bunnies to safety. How awful that someone just left them there. I mean really. I just don’t understand some people.

    Also – love that you take William on so many walks. What a special time together. :)

    • says

      Hi Kristy – the cop didn’t seem to impressed about our… er… humanitarianism (bunnitarianism?) but at least I can feel like I did the right thing as much as I could :)

      William’s usually really good on the walks.. falls asleep so fast. There was one time when he promptly threw up on me 5 minutes into the walk so I had to walk around with a nice “warm belly” for 40 minutes but it’s great fun otherwise :)

  6. says

    I’m sorry that you had to encounter the evidence of someone’s careless attitude towards a helpless animal’s welfare especially at this time of year. A couple of years ago someone tied up a young rottweiler female to my back porch. I had to call animal control and when the volunteer came to pick her up was happy to hear that her chances of adoption were very good.

    I applaud your vegetarian roast. I’m sure it would be appreciated at a potluck dinner especially at this time of year. It certainly SOUNDS like it would be tasty based on the ingredients. The loaf picture is shiny and brown but maybe a mushroom gravy would make it look more ‘roast-like’. :)

    • says

      Hi A_ – I can’t believe someone just tied a dog up on your porch? What the hell? Some people… there’s just no words for them. It’s just a mixture of laziness, stupidity and complete lack of empathy. Hope she’s doing well in a nice home now though.

      The roast would definitely go very well with a nice gravy. Normally I would have shown it plated up with potatoes and the whole works but I was in a bit of a rush alas!

      • says

        Rottweilers have a bad reputation so I was hesitant to go and see to her myself. It was late at night and I didn’t want her there overnight so I called the Humane Society immediately. The volunteer on duty took a while to come as she was visiting family out in the county but once she had assessed the temperament of the animal I went out and greeted the young female. I even got to pet her a bit. She seemed very sweet tempered and friendly.

        By the way, I just got home from shopping and besides a very small frenched rack of lamb, I also bought a pound of chestnuts. My first time. Wish me luck on roasting them and then doing something with them. :)

        • says

          They can be wonderfully sweet dogs, but it’s true – especially if she suddenly appears out of nowhere… who knows why she was left there so it’s wise to be cautious!

          By the way – you may want to consider boiling the chestnuts. Depends what you want to do with them in the end but boiling them is MUCH faster (make an X in the top and boil for 10 minutes) and also leaves them much more suitable for things like this roast dish, for example.

  7. says

    Nut Gross – haha! :) sounds about as complimentary as the term my brother and I came up with for my mom’s tourtière: “tarte au rat” – we even made a video when we were young kids mocking it… how RUDE (talk about not being respectful! happily, my mother thought it was hilarious – I think when you’re a mom of 10 you learn to roll with a lot of stuff… ;-)). Anyhoot, Charles, love the nutty twist on the meatloaf… and you won’t believe that I *just* resurrected meatloaf this past week (aunt May tipped me off in Spiderman) and I had that whole conversation with myself about the crumbling factor and thinking it was because I didn’t wait long enough to slice it (it’s not just about the eggs!). The quinoa’s a lovely addition… bet lentils would work well too here for adhesion. Love the idea.

    Ok, gone on longer than I should but *thank you* for picking up the bunnies and I love that you make time to walk with your son – all of these special traditions will mean so much to you and William as time goes on…

    • says

      Hi Kelly – tarte au rat!! Haha, that gave me a good chuckle! Poor old moms, the world over. They and their cooking no doubt endure a heap of abuse at the hands of their kids, who for the most part end up growing up and thinking “darn, I’d love a slice of “mom’s apple pie”” right about now. I’ll try the lentils next time I make this – good call. Normally I’d add some cheese but I was all out this time around.

  8. says

    Love the sound and looks of your nutloaf. Need to get me some chestnuts when I go shopping. I do hate peeling chestnuts though.
    How precious that you are able to spend such quality time with William.
    Hope the bunnies found good homes.

    • says

      Hi Norma – I know what you mean. Peeling the darn things is SO annoying. Luckily I bought mine ready cooked and peeled, which sure saved a bit of time! :)

  9. says

    Hey there Charles,
    What an interesting dish! It almost looks like a meatloaf, but different! I’m quite intrigued by this as I’m always looking for new side dishes to mix things up at the dinner table.

    Charles, I can certainly relate to your comment about things being crazy. I’m finding it impossible to keep up with all of the extra tasks on my list for Christmas, as well as posting and commenting. I apologize for the delay in my comments. I’m hoping to get caught up this week in all areas. (deep breath…keep positive) It must be exciting getting ready for Williams’ first Christmas. My favourite decorations hanging on my tree are pictures of both ponytails on their first Christmas in little gold frames. You’ll look back on this one for years to come!

    • says

      Thanks Barb – not sure if the ponytails would like this… they might call it what my sister and I did, but in time they may appreciate it!

      I had to make myself a (lengthy) to-do list today. I’m starting to feel the festive pressure :D

  10. says

    I’m a real softy for all animals and that story just touched my heart. How do people do that…especially to little babies? You did the right thing Charles. I love how you manage to get in a bit of exercise, Daddy time and helping Mommy out all at once!! Great idea! and so is this Nut Roast..yum, I’ve not had anything like this and I’m just drooling over how good it must taste!! Mushrooms, nuts and quinoa…very interesting!!

    • says

      Thanks Linda – this is a nice replacement or accompaniment to a roast dinner – I hope you get a chance to give it a try some day. As for the animals – just don’t understand some people… I hope they feel bad about it!

  11. says

    So glad you tried to help the bunnies. Sometimes people disappoint me so…how could one do that to those bunnies? Better to set them free in the woods or something..anything but cage them and leave them to starve or die on the side of the road.

    I’ve had something similar to this nutloaf at a health food restaurant down the street. It’s very good, and they often make a little marinara sauce to top it like a traditional meat loaf. Yours looks particularly inviting with all these good ingredients. Glad you’re taking time to enjoy the holiday season with your son…his first Christmas, how exciting!

    • says

      Hi Betsy – I totally agree… it’s still “abandonment” of something born in captivity, but at least give them a fighting chance… they can run around, eat some stuff, dig a whole or whatever, but just sticking them in a box… :(

      Topping this with marinara sauce like a meatloaf is a great idea – I love it! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  12. says

    The nut roast soudns like a great veggie alternative to a usually meat-laoded xmas dinner! I will try, as I have all that I need already.

    Anyway, you sound like such a lovely dad, spending time with william, taking walks, the 3 of you just make me go awww (: isn’t it exciting that your home has become a bit fuller this year? really happy for you, and have a great xmas(:

    • says

      Thanks Shuhan – we used to eat this a fair bit at home… it’s fun to swap out different ingredients and try new stuff, like cheese, or different seeds/nuts inside :)

      Hope you’re enjoying the holiday season so far!

  13. says

    Why do people throw animals out like that? We’ve had 5 cats over the years and every one of them was a stray, found in the woods, left by the renter who moved out, and so on. Good for you for taking them to the police station! I love it that you and William take your little bonding walks. That’s sweet. I sure wish Bobby liked mincemeat. I love it and he doesn’t. Oh well. Now this nut roast looks interesting. I know I would love it!

    • says

      Sigh, I just can’t understand it MJ. I find it especially difficult to understand when it’s a cat or a dog because you can form a much more close bond with them than you do a rabbit or a guinea pig or rat or something. Some people… :(.

      Thanks for your comment – you should make some mincemeat just for yourself! :)

  14. says

    Charles, I insist you should call it pâté or even nut and mushroom terrine. It already sounds chic and more adapted to what looks like a wonderful festive dish ;-) This vegetarian terrine looks for me absolutely delicious and judging from the ingredients I would enjoy it even though I’m not a vegetarian.
    The bunnies story is absolutely horrifying. I used to have a pet rabbit (a big one though), it was intelligent (he reacted to his name, would run to greet me when I came home, didn’t bite cables, etc.). I know that people also leave other animals… like dogs… in the forest! They just leave them to die of hunger and thirst. I often think that human being is the only cruel animal. Other animals only kill to defend themselves or to eat.
    The French recently made fun of the Swiss because a special dog “licence” was introduced here. Even if you have the tiniest dog in the world, you have to go through a special several day training and if the instructor judges you unable to have the dog, you are not allowed to keep it (I suppose it happens with some big dogs sometimes). This obstacle guarantees that those who buy dogs are really decided to have them and as ridiculous as it may seem, I find it an excellent idea.

    • says

      Hi Sissi – haha, nut and mushroom terrine has a good ring to it, although isn’t a terrine cold? Usually this is served hot, with lashings of gravy on it. I admit though, the name could use a bit of a re-jig :)

      I actually think a dog license is a fantastic idea. I think it used to be necessary in England, but then it changed. Now any idiot can go and get one, two, three, ten dogs and they’ll just sit in a shed all day, chained up going insane from loneliness. I think the process for buying any animal – even fish – should be much more difficult, to deter people who just buy things on a whim and tire of them a few days later. You should at least be able to prove that you know well how to care for the animal, demonstrate that you *can* care for it, and maybe even have a waiting list to get it of a month or something. I’m sure many people would change their mind about wanting a hamster or rabbit if they had to wait for a month!

    • says

      Hi Karen – I don’t have any vegetarian friends either, and I’m certainly not vegetarian myself, but not every meal has to contain “dead stuff” in my opinion. I actually only eat meat maybe twice a week right now.

  15. says

    Hi Charles, no apology needed. I am surprised you post at all keeping in mind your little bundle of joy. Abandoned animals though do make me sad, especially when they are left in box or cage with no way to escape.
    What would lighten up this post is if you share a photo or two of William. Don’t be shy, it’s normal for people to share their babies growing up. Everyone who comes here is your friend, and friends do want to see William. OK, if you think people would be bothered, call him a Little Chef and share his baby steps in the kitchen with you, Big Chef! Did I convince you? Now, can I have some of that nut roast, please? :)

    • says

      Haha, ok Marina – I promise I’ll post another photo soon! Besides, it’s coming up to the time for the “December photo” of the little guy :)

  16. says

    Charles, your nut roast looks and sounds delicious to me! This is something I will definitely try in the new year. Of course, I’ll have to do something else for my friends who just went vegan. Now, there’s a challenge in the roast department!

    • says

      Thanks Jean! I guess in theory you can do this for your vegan friends… the only trouble is finding something to bind everything together, since you won’t have the eggs anymore. I guess maybe lentils as Kelly suggestion, and some sort of vegan cheese… maybe? I don’t know really. Let me know if you give it a try! :)

  17. says

    Charles, I know how frustrating this can be when people do not think about the future for their their furry friends It is a lifetime commitment. We have a huge problem with that same issue in HK. Some awesome lady started up the HKDR so that these pets can be taken of and loved until they can be with a family that loves them. Now on to your nut roast. Great combination of all of my favorite nuts. I am sure it is very hearty and good for you as well. I have never tried anything like this before. Take care, BAM

    • says

      Hi Bam – they have similar organisations in England, including one with a *very* enthusiastic older lady who takes in all animals, even wild ones if they’re injured… birds, hedgehogs, rabbits, squirrels, lol :D

  18. says

    Thank goodness you came along and did the right thing…sheesh, what is wrong with people???? Thanks for sharing this holiday nut roast…I’ve actually heard of these, but never have seen a recipe. I like all the ingredients. so I have a feeling I’d be a fan!

    PS…I was on blogger, but had purchased my own domain…so blogspot wasn’t on my url. I’ve been on WP less than a week, and am finally figuring most of it out (with some assistance, thank goodness!).

    • says

      Hi Liz, sorry for my belated reply! I hope everything turned out well for the bunnies in the end… here’s to hoping eh :)

      I hope you’re finding WordPress as good as I do. Do let me know if you need any help with anything – I love it… so powerful!

  19. says

    hm…It’s sad that people can be so stupid with pets. WE have many pets in our compounds. My mother in law literally collects them. It comes to that because people know that we have a heart for animals. So they come in the night and throw the animals over the fence. It has been going on like that for over 20 years. I told my mother in law that she should stop keeping them. At one point she had 18 dogs (!). Every week we find some puppies or lil kitten on the road side. Each time we call the (useless) animal rescue and each time they either don’t come or they tell us that we should bring the pet. BUT if we call for a snake, they come running quickly!

    You did the right thing Charles!

    ah and your nut roast looks interessting and I bet it tastes great. =)

    • says

      Eighteen dogs!!! Wow! It’s wonderful that there are people like your mother-in-law in the world who can care for these creatures, but at the same time it’s so sad that she has to in the first place. If people weren’t so horrible the world would be a much nicer place!

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