Winter Nut Roast with Spiced Tomato Salsa

Prep time 40 min cook time 70 min serves 8 Showing Off

This epic nut roast is the ultimate vegetarian Christmas centrepiece or celebratory dinner for a special occasion. It’s packed with nuts, dried fruit, spices and loads of veg, topped with melting cheese and served with a spicy tomato sauce. It is delicious served with mashed potato and seasonal greens. Want to put your own twist on it? You can swap the wine for salt-free vegetable stock, cranberries for raisins, and just leave out the chestnuts if you can’t get your hands on them. To save time, you can also use pre-cooked quinoa and pre-chopped squash if you’re under pressure.

Typical nutritional content (per portion)

410Calories 20gFat 3.8gSaturates 17gProtein 7.2gFibre 35gCarbohydrate 16gSugars 0.4gSalt


100g quinoa or couscous
150g mixed nuts like walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts
150g butternut squash
1 large carrot
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sticks celery
200g vacuum packed chestnuts
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for greasing
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chilli powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
100ml white wine
2 Portobello mushrooms
Zest of ½ a lemon
60g wholemeal breadcrumbs
100g dried cranberries
4 large free-range eggs
50g reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

2 fresh red chillies
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sticks of cinnamon
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
½ bunch fresh thyme
2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 1 litre loaf tin with some olive oil and line with greaseproof paper. Cook the quinoa or couscous according to the packet instructions, then set aside to cool.

To prepare the nuts, roast on a lined baking tray in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes until slightly golden. Optional: If you prefer a less chunky consistency for your nut roast, place the nuts in a clean kitchen towel and bash with a rolling pin or a heavy based saucepan.

Prepare your vegetables. Peel and halve the squash, scoop out the seeds, then chop the flesh into small 1cm chunks. Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic, then trim and finely chop the celery. Peel and grate the carrot. Crumble the chestnuts. Pick the rosemary and sage leaves and roughly chop.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the squash, onion, garlic, celery and carrot, and crumble in the chestnuts. Pick in the rosemary and sage leaves, discarding the stalks, then toss well.

Increase the heat to a high heat. Add the cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, black pepper, rosemary and sage leaves and stir well. As it starts to stick to the bottom add the wine to deglaze the pan. This means using the wine to incorporate the charred bits that are starting to stick to the pan. Cook for 3-4 mins stirring regularly until the alcohol has burned off, then reduce the heat to medium-low for around 15 minutes, or until the squash has softened slightly. Meanwhile, roughly chop the mushrooms, then add to the pan for the final 5-6 minutes of cooking, covering with a lid or tin foil.

Remove the pan from the heat and grate in the lemon zest. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then stir in the cooled quinoa, breadcrumbs, dried cranberries and nuts. Crack in the eggs, then stir well to combine.

Pop the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, then place in the hot oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked through and set.

When there’s about 30 minutes to go, make the winter-spiced tomato salsa. Place a roasting tray on the hob over a medium-low heat. Alternatively, you can just use a frying pan and transfer the sauce to an oven-proof casserole dish before it goes into the oven. Prick the chillies and add to the tray with a tablespoon of olive oil and the cinnamon sticks.

Peel and finely slice the garlic, peel and slice the onion into 8 wedges, then add them to the tray. Pick in most of the thyme leaves (save a few sprigs to one side).

Pour in the plum tomatoes and 1 tin’s worth of water, then stir well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Season with black pepper and stir in the balsamic vinegar, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until thickened and reduced.

Once the salsa is ready, take 1 chilli out of the tray, then carefully halve, deseed and roughly chop it before returning it to the tray. Pick out the extra chilli and cinnamon stick, rinse clean and put to one side.

Remove the nut roast from the oven, then carefully turn it out, peeling away the greaseproof paper. Pop the nut roast into the tray and grate over the cheese. Place the clean cinnamon stick, chilli and reserved thyme sprigs on top.

Return it to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbling and golden, and serve with potatoes and seasonal greens.

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