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Nuts are an important supplier of protein in a balanced diet, particularly for vegetarians and vegans, though they rarely prominently featured in savory main courses. One key exception is the nut roast, which has many of the same ingredients that can be found in meatloaf — except for the meat. Instead, this entree requires a ground assortment of nuts, along with other ingredients like chopped vegetables, breadcrumbs, mushrooms, spices and eggs or their vegan replacement. If prepared with care, the final product can look like a meatloaf or even Beef Wellington, with the "meat" baked inside a puff pastry.
A nut roast can be made in a number of ways. Many chefs use a combination of several nuts, ground nearly to flour. Several varieties would be suitable, from almonds, pecans and walnuts to hazelnuts, cashews and pistachios. Other versions stick to just one type of nut for more uniformity of flavor.
What is fairly common to most recipes are fresh vegetables — chopped finely or minced. Typically included are onions, garlic, celery and carrots. A more complex nut roast might also call for ingredients like wild mushrooms, peppers, leeks, spinach and even those with a sweet-and-sour effect like apples or tomatoes. All of these are usually caramelized with oil and spices before being combined with the other ingredients.
Holding a nut roast together are a few binding elements and spices that give the final dish form and flavor. Common to all recipes are eggs, or perhaps an egg substitute using soy or tofu, as well as breadcrumbs. A cook might also add a grain like quinoa, rice or couscous. These ingredients will impart substance and help to hold the roast together on the plate, but the proportions must be properly calculated or a nut roast will not have the correct look or taste. Several recipes are available online from established vegetarian chefs.
The spice blend that is mixed into the cooked grains, sauteed vegetables and scrambled eggs before baking in a meatloaf tin or baking pan is an important component for unifying all the flavors of the dish. One chef uses lemon juice, oregano, paprika and cayenne pepper, while another uses salt, pepper, oregano and basil. After these and all the other ingredients have been fully combined, the roast is ready to bake. Stick with the temperature and cooking times recommended by the creator of each recipe, since different ingredients could call for different cooking instructions. This is especially true if puff pastry is used to create a Beef Wellington effect — with puff pastry dough laid inside a meatloaf tin before being filled with the nut mixture and covered again with the rest of the dough.
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