In general I don’t eat a lot of meat, so when I do Veganuary there’s not much that I really miss, except for one thing of course, my Sunday roasts! Sunday roasts are a real family tradition for me, and they always bring back fond memories of my mum and grandmothers. Everything about them – from the planning, preparation and cooking, to the eating – is very therapeutic, and although I wouldn’t say I am the world’s best cook, everyone loves my roasts! Up until now however, I have never made a nut roast, so I spent some time experimenting with various recipes until I came up with this one – and can confirm it’s been well received!
Nuts and seeds are incredibly nutritious, full of protein, fibre, good fats, vitamins and minerals, so they are the perfect replacement for meat in a dish like this that needs a rich, luscious flavour. The nutritional yeast is one of the most important ingredients in a vegan kitchen as it has the savoury ‘umami’ taste that gives that extra depth to food. It is often used as a cheese replacement, and with the yeast extract spread as well, you have a hefty dose of all the B-vitamins too.
I just have to have gravy with my roast though, and a red onion one is the perfect accompaniment. With roast potatoes, garlic and thyme, mashed butternut squash and some steamed greens, this colourful dish makes a brilliant replacement for a traditional roast and has all the nutrients in it that I like my clients to eat. And to top it all off, it tastes even better the next day!
- For all ingredients use organic where possible.
- You can absolutely use gluten-free bread or ground almonds as an alternative to regular breadcrumbs for your roast, gluten-free stock throughout and gluten-free flour in your gravy.
- Lightly roast your cashew nuts before you use them at 180°c/160°c fan/gas 4.
- If you don’t like chunky gravy you can always blend until smooth once cooked
2 tbsp oil (rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil)
1 large red onion, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
1 leek, cut in half and finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves finely chopped (or ½ tsp of dried thyme)
1 tsp fresh sage leaves finely chopped (or ½ tsp dried sage)
1 tsp smoked paprika
50g breadcrumbs – roughly equivalent to 2 slices of bread
1 ‘flax egg’ (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 2 tbsp of water and left for 5 minutes to thicken)
150g cashews, either chop the nuts by hand or pulse in a food processor
25g pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp yeast extract spread
½ a vegetable stock cube (or 2 tsp of bouillon powder)
4 tbsp boiling water
A few unroasted cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds and a pinch of thyme to sprinkle on the top before serving
Red Onion Gravy
1 large red onion or 2 small red onions, finely sliced into half moons
1 tbsp oil (rapeseed or extra virgin olive oil)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp flour (or cornflour)
400ml of vegetable stock (use a stock cube or bouillon powder)
A dash of tamari or other good soy sauce
Salt and pepper to season
Line a 2lb loaf tin with unbleached baking parchment and set the oven to 180°c/160°c fan/gas 4.
In a good sturdy saucepan on a low-medium heat, soften the leek, celery and onion in the oil.
Add your thyme leaves, sage, breadcrumbs, cashews, pumpkin seeds, salt, paprika and nutritional yeast to the
Combine the yeast extract spread with the stock cube and add 4 tbsp boiling water, stirring until all the stock is
Stir the flax egg through the onion, nut and breadcrumb mixture, then slowly add the stock mix until it reaches a
firm consistency. You don’t want it to be sloppy, nor too dry that it crumbles, just firm.
Spoon your mixture from the pan into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top.
Bake in the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and turn upside down onto a warmed dish to release from loaf tin. Sprinkle
the top with your garnish of thyme, pumpkin seeds, and raw cashews, and slice into 6.
Whilst your roast is cooking you can get on with your gravy – heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the
Once the onion is soft, add the balsamic vinegar and let it evaporate before stirring the flour through.
Slowly add the vegetable stock and stir until all the flour has dissolved, leaving you with a smooth consistency.
Add a dash of tamari or soy sauce and keep cooking until the gravy has thickened to your desired consistency.
Add salt and pepper to taste. You can always add a little hot water or more vegetable stock if you overdo it and
wish to thin it back out.
Serve with roast potatoes, mashed butternut squash and steamed greens, just as a roast should be!
About the author
Mel holds a BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy, an MSc in Nutritional Medicine, and has been specialising in fertility and pregnancy nutrition for over 18 years. Her career includes time spent at the Zita West Fertility Clinic, The Healthy Holiday Company, and Dr Jane Benn & Associates. Mel set up Melanie Brown Nutrition 10 years ago and currently works with clients across the globe advising them on fertility-enhancing diet and lifestyle.