Happy sunday, folks! I hope you’re having a good weekend and recovering nicely from your festive feast but, if you are still in search of more season’s eatings, I do have one last late christmas recipe for you. A variation on a vegan nut roast – Made to share with my vegetarian family – that makes use of both pasilla peppers and winter chestnuts.
And, meat free as it may be, those chestnuts certainly aren’t umami free. They come through with a slight meaty richness that few vegan foods possess and, if you aren’t sworn off the animal products, pair beautifully with a blend of gravy and Chilli Scrumptious’s Java Hot.
Because yes, delicious and moist as this one might be, on the inside, all nut roasts benefit from a little extra sauce on top.
Here’s how I made it.
100g mixed nuts
70g bread crumbs (about 1 large crust’s worth)
1 tin of tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 dried pasilla chilli
3 teaspoons of ancho chilli powder
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
½ teaspoon salt
And I started by roasting the chestnuts.
To do so, I heated up my oven to an unusually high 225°c, then cut an X into the top of each one, placed them on a baking tray and popped them in. Because, if I just put them in as they were, then they’d really be popping. They swell with steam as they cook.
Once cut into, though, that steam cannot burst their skins and will, instead, only kickstart the peeling process, making that step a lot easier. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The chestnuts are going to need twenty minutes in the oven, which is plenty of time to be getting on with other preparations.
Empty your tinned tomatoes into a heat-proof bowl and add the chilli, paprika, salt and mixed nuts. Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, skin them and chuck them in as well. Then finely dice your onion.
You’ve seen this part many times, so I’m not going to show it, today, but fry your onion fragments in oil on a high heat, until they soften up and turn translucent, before adding them to the bowl, as well. Preferably using a slotted spatula, to remove as much excess oil as possible.
Then you can leave the mixture to soak and the pasilla to soften up a tad, while you wait for the chestnuts to finish.
Once they’re done, they should look something like this, with the skins curling up around your earlier X:
This makes for an excellent set of finger-holds, with which to remove the brown outer skin and the white fluff within. Be careful to reach into the folds of the strangely brain-like flesh of the nut, though, as they can hide extra little skin flaps.
Once the chestnuts are skinned, pop them into your oven-proof bowl, along with the bread crumb. Or lightly toast your bread slice and blend it into crumbs, if you don’t have any pre-prepared. As most of us don’t.
From there, blend the entire contents of the bowl to one thick, nutty paste, like so:
Smooth down what is currently the top and pop it back into your 225°c oven for thirty minutes, until it begins to darken around the edges. Then turn it out onto a plate and cook for ten more, to crisp up the real top, before serving. Perhaps with a light sprinkling of pul biber flakes, for colour.
That added chilli dusting doesn’t add a lot else, since the bold flavours of garlic and smoked paprika coming through in this tomatoey, nutty, rich and umami-ish dish completely overpower such a small quantity of pepper. And its slight extra spice doesn’t stop the roast from sitting at the very top of my
It does nothing for the dish, outside of its appearance, but the dish doesn’t need anything, anyway. Except maybe gravy. It’s delightfully rich and full-bodied, even on its own, and its far moister than its outer edge lets on.
It’s one of the best nut roasts that I’ve ever had and both the meaty, earthy, lightly sweet and nutty chestnuts and the dark, dried fruit taste of the mexican chillies definitely play their part. I strongly encourage you to give it a go.