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This Nut Roast recipe is packed with a deliciously sweet and savory blend of nuts, veggies, lentils, dried fruit and fresh herbs. Easy to prep in advance, and delicious served with cranberry sauce and/or gravy!
Friends, have you ever tried making a nut roast before?
I was admittedly unfamiliar with this traditional vegetarian dish until my British friend, Catherine, served us her famous nut roast for dinner a few months ago…and everyone around the table could not stop raving about how delicious it was! We seriously could not get enough of this sweet, savory, hearty, and flavor-packed vegetarian “roast”! ♡
My first question to Catherine, of course, was what sorts of delicious ingredients were hiding in her beautiful confetti-ed loaf. As she explained, there are about a million ways to make British-style nut roasts, but they are traditionally made with a base of chopped nuts, veggies and lots of herbs, plus sort of hearty ingredient added in to give the loaf some texture (such as lentils, rice, grains, oats, torn bread, or various types of flour blends), as well as whatever extra dried fruits or fun seasonings the cook feels like adding in. The best nut roasts seem to strike the perfect balance between sweet and savory. And when served with cranberry sauce (a must, according to Catherine) and/or some savory vegetarian gravy, I’m telling you, this dish will be a showstopper with vegetarians and meat-eaters alike!
The brilliance of nut roasts is that they are also easy to make ahead of time and require very little oven space. So since they happen to be a traditional holiday food in the UK, and so many of us were already planning to cook smaller holiday meals this year, I thought that this would be the perfect week to share this recipe.
Catherine’s favorite nut roast is based off of a recipe from Deliciously Ella, made with lots of fresh sage, rosemary, mushrooms and dried apricots, which my husband and I absolutely loved. We’ve since tinkered around with the recipe a bit and added in some lentils for extra protein, as well as a generous hint of orange juice and zest, which pairs deliciously with the other ingredients and tastes extra-festive this time of year. I’ve also kept this recipe gluten-free, and given the option to use either traditional eggs or flax eggs as a binder, if you would like to make the recipe vegan. As I explain below, the types of nuts/seeds, veggies and legumes here are also quite flexible, so please feel free to tinker around with the ingredients and make this nut roast recipe your own.
Bottom line, my husband and I can’t believe that it took us this long to be introduced to nut roasts. But we are now full-on fans, and look forward to making them a tradition in our house for the occasional “Sunday roasts” and the holiday dinners. Big thanks to Catherine and some of our other British friends here in Barcelona for all of the great tips and inspiration for this recipe. I really think you all are going to love it!
Nut Roast Ingredients:
Before we get to the full nut roast recipe below, please take a few moments to read these notes about the ingredients you will need to make this recipe…
- Lentils: I used lentils as the base for this nut roast to give it some extra moisture and protein, which I recommend cooking in water (or veggie stock, for extra flavor) until they are super-soft. I went with basic brown lentils, but you could really use just about any type of lentils here that you have on hand. Or if you’re not a big fan of lentils, see notes below for some other alternative ingredients you could try.
- Veggies: I used a mix of onion, carrot, bell pepper, baby bella mushrooms and fresh spinach, which you can either finely-dice by hand or blitz in the food processor. That said, feel free to sub in whatever other veggies in the fridge sound good! (For example, parsnips, leeks, sweet potato, or butternut squash would all be delicious in this recipe too.)
- Garlic: I used four large cloves of garlic to season the roast, but feel free to add in more or less garlic if you prefer.
- Herbs and spices: I also strongly recommend adding lots of chopped fresh herbs to your nut roast, as there are lots of densely-packed ingredients in here that need seasoning! I went with a mix of fresh sage and rosemary, plus dried thyme, smoked paprika, fine sea salt and black pepper. But feel free to use whatever fresh (or dried) herbs that you love best, adjusting the amounts as needed, to taste.
- Orange: One fresh orange, zested and juiced, which really brightens up the flavors and adds a festive holiday note to this nut roast.
- Mixed nuts: I honestly just cleaned out the nut and seed section of our pantry to make this nut roast, so as you can see in the photos above, there’s a bit of everything in this one! That said, feel free to select any blend of nuts and seeds that you prefer. You can use either salted or unsalted nuts/seeds (you’ll just need to add less salt to season the roast in Step 5 if your nuts/seeds are pre-salted). And if your nuts/seeds are raw, I recommend toasting them briefly before adding them to the recipe, in order to bring out their best flavor. You can either blitz the nuts/seeds in the food processor, seal them in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or mallet, or just chop-chop-chop them by hand until they reach your desired consistency.
- Dried apricots: My friend, Catherine, introduced us to nut roast sweetened with dried apricots, which I absolutely loved and included here. But feel free to use dried cranberries instead or any other dried fruit that you love best, or skip the dried fruit altogether if you prefer a more savory roast.
- Eggs: Finally, I used traditional eggs to bind all of the ingredients together in this roast. But if you would like to make this recipe vegan, flax eggs will work great too!
Tips for How To Make Nut Roast:
Full directions are included in the recipe below, but here are a few key tips I’ve learned about making nut roasts:
- Finely-chopped vs chunky. So, the texture of the ingredients in your nut roast is completely up to you — you can either go with ingredients that are finely-chopped or more chunky. As you can see in the images above, I went more of the finely-chopped route, which I find helps the nut roast to hold together and slice much more easily. But bigger chunks are lovely too, and may simply cause your nut roast to crumble a bit more when slicing.
- Put that food processor to use (if you own one). If you do happen to own a food processor or some sort of chopping tool, you can totally use it to save time chopping the veggies and nuts, and it also does a great job with helping to purée the nut roast (as directed in Step 6). That said, if you do not own a food processor, no worries — you can still easily make everything by hand!
- Don’t forget to taste and season. Be sure to pause during Step 5 to take a taste of the nut roast mixture and adjust the seasonings as needed! I add quite a bit of salt and pepper to this recipe, plus you’re welcome to add more herbs or citrus too, if needed. But the amount of salt will also depend on whether your nuts were pre-salted, so please taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.
- Firmly pack your ingredients. It’s also up to you how firmly or loosely you choose to pack the nut bake mixture into the bread pan. I recommend packing the mixture in fairly tightly, which helps it to hold together and slice well. But if you don’t want the ingredients to be too mashed together, you can also opt to pack yours in a bit more loosely.
- Sauce is essential. My friend, Catherine, strongly believes that cranberry sauce is essential with nut roasts! We also loved serving ours with my favorite mushroom gravy, so feel free to go with whichever sweet or savory option you prefer. Or of course — a much better idea — both!
- Have fun and experiment! Nut roasts recipes aren’t meant to be exact, so please feel free to experiment with whatever fun ingredients and amounts sound best to you and make this recipe your own! The base recipe here is quite flexible and can accommodate quite a few variations (see ideas below).
Possible Nut Roast Variations:
Here are a few more fun ways that you can customize this nut roast recipe if you’d like…
- Make it vegan: In order to make a vegan nut roast, just sub in flax eggs in place of traditional eggs. They will work great!
- Add cheese: Feel free to add in up to 1 cup of shredded cheddar or gruyere cheese if you would like to make a cheesy nut roast.
- Use different legumes, rice, grains or oatmeal: In place of lentils, feel free to substitute chickpeas, white beans, or any other beans that you prefer. Or alternately, you could sub in any type of rice, quinoa, farro, oatmeal, or other grains in place of the lentils. (I recommend adding in an equivalent amount of cooked rice or grains, or about 1 cup of cooked oatmeal.)
- Use different veggies: As mentioned above, feel free to sub in any other veggies that might sound good in this recipe too, such as parsnips, leeks, sweet potato, or butternut squash. (Any veggies will need to be cooked until completely softened before being added to the nut roast.)
- Use different herbs/spices: This nut roast recipe could also be customized with any number of other fresh or dried herbs that might sound good.
- Decorate the top: I kept things simple and just pressed the confetti-ed nut roast mixture into the bread pan. But feel free to “decorate” the top of the nut roast with fun veggie or nut designs if you would like before baking. Just be sure to keep a closer eye on the nut roast as it cooks so that any decor ingredients do not accidentally burn.
What To Serve With Nut Roast:
Here are some traditional sides to serve with cranberry sauce for the holidays or Sunday dinner:
- Cranberry sauce: We served this nut roast with my favorite 3-ingredient maple cranberry sauce, which I highly recommend.
- Gravy: I also loved the nut roast paired with this mushroom gravy, which I fully puréed this time, although you are welcome to leave the mushrooms chunky if you prefer.
- Potatoes: It’s also very traditional to serve nut roast with some type of potatoes. You could go with roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, or stay tuned tomorrow for my new smashed potatoes recipe (pictured below).
- Veggies: Any veggies would make for a delicious side dish here, such as roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted asparagus,
- Salad: If you would like a side salad, I’d highly recommend my everyday salad or this festive pear salad this time of year.
- Bread: I will be making my favorite 1-hour dinner rolls to serve with our nut roast for Christmas this year. But some crusty no knead bread, honey beer bread, or rosemary focaccia would be delicious too.
This Nut Roast recipe is packed with a deliciously sweet and savory blend of nuts, veggies, lentils, dried fruit and fresh herbs. Serve with cranberry sauce and/or gravy and enjoy! (Please see notes above for possible ingredient modifications too.)
- 1 cup (200 grams) green or brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
- fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 large carrot, finely diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, cored and finely diced
- 8 ounces (225 grams) baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped*
- 4 large cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 large handfuls baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 10 ounces (300 grams) mixed nuts, finely chopped*
- 5 ounces (140 grams) dried apricots, finely chopped
- zest and juice (about 1/4 cup) of 1 small orange
- 3 eggs, whisked*
- Cook the lentils. Combine the lentils with 4 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat until the water reaches a vigorous simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are completely tender, about 20-30 minutes. Drain the lentils completely using a strainer, and set aside until later.
- Prep oven and bread pan. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a 9 x 5-inch bread pan with parchment paper.
- Sauté the veggies and herbs. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, carrot and bell pepper and sauté for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the mushrooms and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are softened and most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated. Add the spinach, sage, rosemary, smoked paprika, and thyme. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat.
- Combine all ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, add the cooked lentils, cooked veggie mixture, nuts, dried apricots, and orange juice and zest. Toss until the mixture is evenly combined.
- Taste and season. Before we add the eggs, go ahead and give the mixture a taste and season it with salt and pepper as needed. (The level of saltiness will vary considerably based on the type of nuts you used, but you will likely need to add a generous amount of salt and pepper, so don’t be shy!)
- Purée or mash part of the mixture. If you own a food processor, transfer about 1/3 of the mixture to a food processor and pulse a few times until the mixture is fairly puréed. (Or alternately, use a potato masher to mash about 1/3 of the mixture on one side of the mixing bowl until it is puréed.) Stir the puréed mixture back into the overall mixture along with the whisked eggs until everything is evenly combined.
- Press the mixture into the pan. Transfer the entire nut loaf mixture into the prepared bread pan, packing it down fairly firmly (which will help the loaf to slice more easily later).
- Bake. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the loaf is cooked through. (I also like to remove the roast about 5 minutes before it has finished baking to brush the top of the roast with a bit of melted butter or oil to help it crisp up on top during those final few minutes in the oven, but this step is totally optional. Alternately, if the top of the roast starts to get too browned during cooking, just gently lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the bread pan.)
- Rest the nut roast. Transfer the pan to a wire cutting rack and let the nut roast rest for about 15-20 minutes.
- Serve. Carefully lift the edges of the parchment paper up to remove the nut roast from the pan and transfer it to a cutting board. Use a bread knife to slice the roast into your desired size of pieces. Then serve warm with gravy or cranberry sauce and enjoy!
Chopping the veggies and nuts: As mentioned in the notes above, you are welcome to chop the veggies and nuts as finely or coarsely as you prefer. (I recommend a pretty fine chop, so that the nut loaf will hold together and slice better.) If you happen to own a food processor, it makes chopping the nuts (and veggies, if you would like) a breeze! Otherwise, you can place the nuts in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or mallet, or just chop them with a knife.
Vegan flax egg alternative: To make this recipe vegan, feel free to whip up some flax eggs (1 tablespoon ground flax mixed with 2.5 tablespoons water, per flax egg, whisked together and rested for 15 minutes to thicken) to use in this recipe instead. They work great!
Make-ahead instructions: If you would like to prep this recipe in advance, I recommend cooking the entire nut roast filling and refrigerating it in a sealed food storage container for up to 48 hours before baking. Then transfer the filling to the prepared bake pan and bake as instructed. Alternately, you can go ahead and bake the nut roast, let it cool completely to room temperature, wrap it tightly with beeswrap or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days (or freeze for up to 3 months). Then on the day you are ready to serve the nut roast, let it return to room temperature, place it in a bread pan, cover with foil and bake at 350°F (180°C) for 15-20 minutes until warmed through.