This recipe was first published in my 2020 Christmas Treat Recipes post. I’ve made some edits and added some pictures.
In the December when I was 9 I decided I wanted to be vegetarian. My amazing mum is a saint and let me get on with it, supporting me by preparing all sorts of different meals in 1990 when vegetarian sausages weren’t typical in the supermarket frozen food aisle.
Instead, she bought some cookbooks and set about making sure I was properly nourished without any meat. I think she made me wait until after that first Christmas though. After a year, it was Christmas time again and I’d held to my meat free principles for long enough that no one could suggest I had turkey for Christmas dinner.
My mum found a gorgeous recipe in Sarah Brown’s cookbook which became my favourite for the following 15 years (before himself corrupted me into eating chicken in a Nando’s one day and then large boy was so Iron hungry I abandoned my veggieness completely when pregnant). This was always my comfort food and I can still make it without a recipe. In fact, I wrote this up without checking in my handwritten copy to see if I got it right!
This year (2021) I’ve made it 10 days in advance and packed it away in the freezer ready to eat on Boxing Day.
- 1 onion
- 3 sticks of celery
- 1 ½ cups of red skin peanuts (groundnuts I think for USA readers)
- 1 cup ground almonds
- 1 ½ cups grated cheese
- 3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 2cm ginger, grated
- 3 cloves garlic, grated
- 400g tinned tomatoes, juice drained and then blended (drink the juice with vodka if you like, waste not want not)
- mixed herbs
- olive oil
I realised as I used this recipe that I’d scribbled “make 1.5 quantities” at the bottom. So I’ve scaled almost everything above from the first time I shared this.
- Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 6/350F.
- Fry off the onion, celery, ginger and garlic in a some oil.
- Whizz up the nuts in a blender until they’re roughly chopped but quite small, then mix into the onion and celery mixture (off the heat).
- Mix the cheese, breadcrumbs and a bit of oil in a bowl.
- Add the herbs to the blended tomatoes.
- Grease and line with baking paper a 2lb loaf tin (like for making bread).
- Put about 1/4 of the nutty mixture into the bottom of the tin in a thin layer.
- Spoon some tomato on top of the nuts, then some of the breadcrumb and cheese mixture. Squish it down a bit. This is best done with a metal dessert or serving spoon not a wooden one so it doesn’t all stick to the spoon.
- Repeat the layers over and over, maybe 4 times until all your mixtures are used up (there might be some tomato left, you don’t want it to be sloppy). Make sure you end with the breadcrumbs and cheese on top and add more grated cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
- Turn out onto a plate and serve in slices, a bit like a meatloaf. Or, even better, cool in the tin and then keep in the fridge overnight. Then turn out and serve. It’s good hot but amazing cold!
What’s your favourite non-traditional Christmas dish?
Nut roast or three layer terrine isn’t exactly part of a typical Christmas meal. I love it and it feels very Christmassy to me. What’s the equivalent for you?