It can generally go without saying that there are many different types of holiday dinners out there that you can choose to eat. Some people will make traditional holiday meals based off of what their families have done in the past. Other people may make holiday meals that are based on what other people of the same religion eat for that holiday.
Then, there are some people who just want to take the holidays to enjoy a meal that they do not normally eat. No matter what your reasons may be, there will come a time when you will want to start planning your Christmas dinner. Whether you are cooking dinner for a small family or you are cooking for a large family reunion, you are going to want to make sure that you have something that everyone can eat. This includes making sure that there are options for people who may be on a vegetarian diet.
When most people think of Christmas meals, they often think about the different kinds of meats that people will use to decorate the dinner table during the festive seasons. However, if you have someone in your close family who is following a vegetarian lifestyle, doing this may not be the best option for you.
Instead, you will want to think about some main courses that someone who doesn’t eat meat can enjoy. This is where the classic dish known as the nut roast comes into play. This dish is quite similar to a roast that you would serve for a Christmas dinner, although the “meat” of the dish is made from a variety of nuts and legumes, depending on the flavor profile you want.
What Is a Nut Roast?
A nut roast can be considered the vegetarian alternative to a roast that would be served on a major holiday, such as Christmas. These meals tend to be very hearty and filling, are accompanied by rich sauces and broths, and can include the same vegetables (outside of the “meat”) that a roast would include. Nut roasts take the form of a long, loaf-shaped casserole dish and, by appearance, can often mimic their meatier counterparts. However, on the inside, they can contain a number of nuts and legumes as well as starches, seeds, rice, and vegetables. Nut roasts are commonly served around Christmas and Thanksgiving (and other harvest-related festivals), as well as being a common part of a traditional Sunday roast. For people who lead a vegetarian lifestyle, this meal is a common part of the holiday season.
What Can You Put in a Nut Roast?
When all is said and done, what you put in the nut roast is completely up to you. Different ingredients will carry a different taste and texture, and it may take a fair bit of trial and error to decide which ingredients will make up your Christmas roast. There are a few main parts to a nut roast that you can work on though. There is the bulk of the roast, or a relatively tasteless ingredient that gives the roast its shape. There are the nuts (or legumes) of your choice that you can add for flavoring and where the name of the roast comes from. You can also choose to add a variety of vegetables to the mix as well for additional flavoring, with some people adding fruits to their nut roasts. Then, on top of all of this, people will sometimes wrap their roasts with something else, depending on the overall flavor profile of the roast so far.
Commonly, the main bulk of the roast tends to either be breadcrumbs or rice. Breadcrumbs are usually the more popular choice, although rice can go very well with other ingredients due to its texture and how it absorbs the flavor of food around it. Additional vegetables can range from mushrooms to parsnip. Some people will include other flavoring options, such as cheeses, lemon juice, and other strongly flavored ingredients. Then, if you want to wrap the roast, you can consider adding strips of chargrilled eggplant, savory cabbage leaves, or something similar to add to the taste and texture of your Christmas nut roast.
Common Nut Roast Types
While you can do just about anything you want with your nut roast, there are some common types of roast that people choose to make for their families over the holidays. If you are not in the mood to experiment with your food that much, you may want to consider sticking to one of these recipes.
For instance, if you are looking for a nut roast that not only has a strong flavor, but also carries the holiday spirit with it, you may want to consider a roast with cranberries. A cranberry and pistachio nut roast will have the sharp flavor to catch anyone’s attention alongside the festive appearance of cranberries on top of it. Depending on what else you put into the base of the roast, this can turn into a tart and savory dish.
If pistachios aren’t your type of nut, but you still want to keep the festivity that cranberries bring to the dish, you may want to consider using pecans, cashews, and hazelnuts. While this might take a little bit more preparation with crushing the various different nuts, it will lead to a more muted but varied flavor profile that you and your family can enjoy. Pecans and cranberries are already common enough and hazelnuts often add a wonderful flavor to dishes they are included in. Cashews are a very common nut to use in nut roasts, being a good base “meat” for your roast. On top of these ingredients, you can consider adding gruyere cheese, sage leaves, leeks, and even some cloves of garlic to create a rich taste.
Choosing the Perfect Ingredients
Finally, you will want to think long and hard about what type of ingredients you want to add to your nut roast. There are many different ways that you can make this dish. Some people aim to create a heavy and hearty meal similar to what other people might eat on Thanksgiving. Other people simply want a good vegetarian (or vegan) replacement for a holiday dinner.
When you are looking at recipes for nut roasts, you will want to think about what ingredients you want to add besides the main bulk of the roast (usually rice or breadcrumbs) and the nuts. Many people will add different kinds of cheese to create a sharper flavor or to add more muted undertones.
People also tend to add a number of different vegetable ingredients based on the flavors they are looking for altogether. Some people may aim for tomato, oregano, and paprika. Other people may look toward celery, carrots, and parsley. If you are planning for a vegan dinner, remember that many recipes will require you to use eggs to help keep all of the ingredients in a loaf-like shape, although there are alternatives to consider, such as milk alternatives.
Vegans can also consider using olive oil to help thicken the food, helping it retain its shape while it is cooking. There are several other ways that one can customize this dish to suit tastes and dietary requirements as necessary, as this is truly an inclusive and versatile festive meal.