Okay, so Christmas Day is usually always bombarded with meat heavy dishes, the obligatory roast veg on the side and with some rather pasty looking sprouts. Being a vegetarian at Christmas is often very tricky, and for hosts it’s even trickier to cater to, but being Paleo (or gluten free) and vegetarian at Christmas is even worse. Now, I’m not 100% vegetarian, I’m actually pescatarian, meaning I eat fish and not meat, but I still seem to swing towards my vegetarian ways for the majority of the time. But now, just before Christmas, my son has declared that he is now a vegetarian, and he also already follows a 95% gluten-free diet – the other 5% being whenever he can sneak something in at a mates house that is packed full of gluten and refined sugars. So it’s safe to say that I’ve had to get a little more creative for this Christmas.
I love a good nut roast – I have been lucky enough to experience a rare few delicious ones, often or not people end up making them too dry or too bland. My Paleo Nut Roast is packed full of flavour and nutrition, and it’s beautifully filling but not in that horrible bloaty way that you get with a traditional grain filled one. Which means more room for dessert! Get in!
So traditionally a nut roast contains either breadcrumbs or rice (sometimes even both) and I could well have cooked up a good loaf of Paleo Granary Bread just for this dish but I opted for some coconut flour instead as it helps to retain moisture, and has that sweet, bread-like taste. I also threw in raw mushrooms, rather than pre-cooking them, as their juices are released into the roast when cooking, preventing it from drying out. I flavoured my nut roast with two of my favourite herbs – sage and thyme – and I found this to be perfect to my tastes however you can be as creative as you like and just throw in any of your favourite herbs. I also added some raw Gruyère cheese to this recipe for those of you that are following a more primal Paleo diet but I didn’t actually add any Gruyère into the one pictured so that you all know it’s still just as delicious without!
If you can’t get hold of some chestnuts then feel free to sub with 100g of cooked, mashed sweet potato to help to add to that festive sweetness!
This is perfect served thickly sliced, with some roasted veggies, and my Spiced Quince and Cranberry Sauce!
Paleo Nut Roast
Serves: 4 people
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1hr 30 mins (including 30 mins for roasting chestnuts)
Equipment Needed: 9″ x 5″ loaf tin
Please note that all cup measurements used are British cups and equal to 250ml.
2 large parsnips (peeled and quartered)
2 tbsp raw grass-fed butter (or coconut oil)
1 onion (peeled and finely diced)
2 cloves garlic (peeled and finely diced)
2 celery sticks (finely diced)
175g mixed nuts (almonds, brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts)
1/4 cup coconut flour
2 tbsp fresh sage (finely chopped)
1 tbsp fresh thyme (de-stalked)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Himalayan pink salt (fine)
7 dried apricots (diced)
2 large chestnut mushrooms (finely diced)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice 1/2 lemon
25g raw grass-fed butter or coconut oil (melted)
75g raw Gruyère cheese (optional but delicious)
2 eggs (beaten)
- Start by pre-heating your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Using a sharp knife cut a cross into the skin of each chestnut. Make sure you do this with the flat side down for stability or else you risk stabbing yourself! Place the chestnuts into a roasting tin and bake until the skins begin to unfurl and the insides are tender when you place a knife into them. This will probably take around 30 minutes or so.
- Whilst your chestnuts are roasting boil your peeled and quartered parsnips until tender (this will take around 10 minutes). Drain and transfer into a large mixing bowl and using a potato masher mash until smooth.
- Next, melt your grass-fed butter (or coconut oil) in a frying pan and add your finely diced onion, garlic, and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes until nicely softened. Transfer your softened vegetables into your mixing bowl and stir in thoroughly.
- In a food processor add your mixed nuts and pulse a few times before processing on full speed. You want to end up with a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs but with a nice amount of varied chunks too for added texture! Once processed add to your mixing bowl and stir into the other ingredients.
- Next add the coconut flour, fresh sage and thyme, freshly ground black pepper, Himalayan pink salt, diced dried apricots, and finely diced mushrooms. Stir until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- By now your chestnuts should hopefully be done so remove from the oven and lower the heat of your oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Once your chestnuts have cooled enough to handle, peel off the tough outer skin and the pithy white inner skin to get to down to the good stuff. Crumble the chesnuts into your nut roast mix and stir until evenly distributed.
- Add your lemon zest and juice and stir before adding in your melted butter and Gruyère cheese (if using). Stir thoroughly then pour in your beaten eggs and mix until fully incorporated.
- Grease and line a 9″ x 5″ loaf tin and spoon in your nut roast mixture and flatten the top with the palm of your hand until even. Wrap the tin in tin foil, place into the oven on the middle shelf, and cook for 45 minutes before removing the foil and cooking for a further 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top. Turn out the loaf onto a plate, remove the baking parchment, and slice into thick slices and serve. If not eating the same day then leave to cool on a wire wrack before wrapping in baking parchment, then foil, storing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To re-heat simply wrap in foil and cook at 180C/350F/Gas 4 until fully warmed through.