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Christmas can be tricky when you’re cooking for lots of people, all with different likes and dislikes, and some with specific dietary needs.  But there’s no need to worry – it doesn’t have to be complicated.  Essentially, for the main course, you are going to be cooking the same dinner for everyone.  The main requests you are going to have are for a vegetarian or vegan meal, or perhaps an intolerance or allergy of some kind.  Each year I make this vegetarian loaf to go with the roast potatoes and vegetables, and I find its creamy deliciousness is so popular that even the meat eaters end up with a big portion on their plates!  It’s very simple and you can make it a day or two before.  The flavours simply meld together as it matures.  It’s great cold on sandwiches too!

Mushroom Nut Loaf

Serves 3-4

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 parsnips, cooked and mashed

2 small onions, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

200g cashew nuts, ground

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 tsp. chopped chives

1 teaspoon thyme

100ml vegetable stock

1 teaspoon yeast extract (check it’s not got barley in for anyone who’s gluten free)

200g mushrooms, finely sliced.

Method

  1. Boil or steam the parsnips.
  2. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4 / 180 °C / 350 °F.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a pan and fry the onions and garlic.
  4. Place them in a bowl with the ground cashew nuts, herbs and cornflour.
  5. Mash the boiled parsnips and add them to the bowl.
  6. Dissolve the yeast extract in the stock and add to the bowl.
  7. Fry the mushrooms in 1 tbsp. oil until soft.
  8. Grease a 2 lb loaf tin (I’m not sure what the metric equivalent of a 2 lb loaf tin is. It’s a bread tin about 20 cm long, 10 cm wide and 8 cm deep).
  9. Press half the nut mixture into the tin, cover with the mushrooms and top with the rest of the mixture.
  10. Wrap the loaf tin in foil and bake for 1 hour.
  11. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: Decorating the top with walnuts and cranberries will make it visually stunning as well as down-right tasty.

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