Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Vegan Nut Roast and Gravy

So, it's December and time for a Rocket Bean nut roast (in plenty of time for Christmas), the best thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared well in advance (it should keep for around 3-4 days in the fridge) and served cold with hot gravy on the day for minimum effort. This recipe will make enough for 4 generous servings. Serve with all of the (veggie) trimmings.


For the Nut Roast-

For this recipe you will require a loaf/roasting tin for cooking the roast.

Oil, for frying
2x Small Onions, grated or chopped
3x Cloves Garlic, grated
4-6 Medium Mushrooms, finely chopped
200g Plain Flour
200g finely chopped Nuts (I'll be using a mixture of Cashews, Walnuts and Brazil Nuts)
300ml of Veg Stock
1x Slice of Bread, Made into Breadcrumbs
Dash of Dark Soy Sauce
Dash of (Vegan) Worcestershire Sauce
A Selection of Dried Herbs (My choice for this recipe is Rosemary, Sage and Oregano - roughly 1x tsp of each)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra Oil, for greasing the roasting tin

For the Gravy-

Oil, for frying
Onion, roughly chopped
2x garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4x Mushroom, Sliced (This makes for a creamier gravy)
1x heaped tbsp plain flour
1x tsp Marmite (or similar yeast extract)
450ml Veg Stock
1x tsp Dark Soy Sauce
1x tsp (Vegan) Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Method - Firstly prepare your ingredients for the roast, the nuts can be purchased pre-chopped but I prefer to do it myself as you can have more choice over what mixture of nuts go into the roast.

Heat some oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add in the onion, garlic, half of the mixed herbs and heat for around 8-10 minutes stirring frequently. Next add in the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes until they begin to soften. For breadcrumbs I tend to lightly toast one slice of bread and then chop very finely. Add the nuts, breadcrumbs and the rest of the mixed herbs to the mixture and cook for around 5-10 minutes at a low heat (this is not essential but I think the nuts have a better flavour if they are browned in the pan before adding the stock). Next add in the 300ml of veg stock, soy and worcestershire sauce and stir well.

This next part of the recipe is very similar to the burger recipe posted on Rocket Bean back in October. In order to thicken up the mix you need to gradually stir the 200g of flour into the mix, adding about 1 heaped tbsp at a time, ensuring to mix well after each spoonful added.

This is the messy part, so it is generally a good idea to preheat the oven to 140°c and grease the roasting tin before getting your hands dirty. Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, sprinkle some extra flour on top of the mix and knead it into one large 'patty' shape. See image below. 

Turn the floured mixture into the roasting tin and press into shape using your hands. Place in the oven, I find that the best method for cooking this roast is at a low temperature for a long time, around 1hr30mins to 2hrs. This allows the sticky mixture to dry out somewhat. However, leaving it to cool before serving can also help in the 'drying-out' process.

Note: If you don't have time to slow cook the roast preheat the oven to 180°c and cook for around 30-40 mins until golden brown. I just prefer the outcome when slow cooked.

Take your time to carefully remove the nut roast from the tin, I find the best method is to carefully pry the sides away from the tin using a spatula and then overturning the tin onto a plate and gravity generally does the rest. 

Now for the gravy, which is a personal take on a brilliant recipe for a vegan gravy from vegetarian cookery writer Rose Elliot.

There's no need to finely chop anything for this recipe as you can blend the final mixture for a rich, creamy gravy.

As before, fry the onions and garlic in oil at a medium heat for around 5 mins until they begin to soften, now add in the mushrooms and sprinkle over your plain flour allowing the onions to brown from the flour. It is important to make sure you keep stirring this mixture as the flour can make the onions become very sticky and in turn they will stick to the base of the pan if left for too long.

Now reduce to a low heat and add in the veg stock, Marmite, soy, worcestershire sauce and allow to simmer gently for 10 minutes. Then, transfer the mixture to the blender and blend until smooth. The mixture can always be thinned down with water and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper after completion if you feel that the final outcome is too thick. The gravy can also be refrigerated for a day few days and reheated in a pan or the microwave.

Christmas Dinner - Vegan nut roast and gravy served with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts and broccoli. A little personal addition here is a touch of mint sauce, you can always substitute this with cranberry sauce to make it feel that little bit more Christmassy. 


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Rocket Bean gets Facebook

Rocket Bean has now got it's own Facebook page. A nice place to check out all the images, ask any questions or just chat about food. 

Check it out - 


Shepherd's Green Lentil Pie (and Roasted Chestnuts)

A nice, hearty winter recipe that uses red wine to create a delicious sauce for the lentil base. If you'd prefer to make a non-vegan version, Goat's cheese can be added to the mash in place of the nutritional yeast to give the dish a richer flavour. This recipe can serve up to 6 people, as a small amount can go a long way with some seasonal vegetables and gravy. 


For the lentil base-
Oil, for frying
2x onions, chopped or grated
2x carrots, diced
4x garlic cloves , finely chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
2x bay leaves
1x tsp dried thyme
1x tsp dried oregano
1x tsp dried sage
300g dried green lentils
200ml red wine (optional*)
500ml vegetable stock
3x tbsp tomato purée

*If you choose to leave out the wine from the dish you can top up the sauce with more stock or 200ml of water. 

For the mashed potato- 

700g of potatoes, peeled
25g of Soya spread
2x tbsp Soya Milk

Nutritional Yeast, Salt and Pepper to Taste

I would generally recommend not soaking the lentils prior to cooking as they will soak in the wine and the stock during cooking, taking on their flavour and moisture from that mixture.

Method - To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan to a medium heat, then gently fry the onions, carrots, and garlic for 10-15 mins until soft and golden.

Next, turn up the heat, add the mushrooms and cook for around 5 mins. Stirring in the herbs whilst cooking.

Put the lentils into the pan, pour over the wine and stock and reduce the temperature to a medium setting - it's important that you do not season with salt at this stage as this can prevent the lentils from cooking properly. Simmer the mixture for 40-50 mins until the lentils are soft and the majority of the liquid has evaporated. It is important to stir frequently and keep the lentils moist, if they become too dry they can stick to the base of the pan and burn. Simply add more boiling water, wine or stock to the lentils to rectify this.

Whilst the lentils are cooking place the potatoes into a pan of boiling water for around 15mins, until tender.

Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 180°c.

The mixture should ideally look to be of a similar consistency to the above photograph, note that the wine and stock have been soaked up by the lentils.

Once the lentils are cooked, season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper, take off the heat and then stir in the tomato purée. Next, place into an ovenproof dish.

Once the potatoes are cooked Mash, add the butter, milk and nutritional yeast. Whisk to a smooth purée, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread over the rest of the ingredients in the dish using a fork. Note: This was the first time I'd used nutritional yeast so it was very much an experiment. I used around 3 heaped tablespoons for the recipe and found that the yeast gives the mash a nutty flavour, although it did leave the mash a little hard when reheated the following day (a problem solved by adding a little gravy).

Place the dish into the oven and cook for around 20-25 mins or until the mashed potato topping starts to go a golden brown colour.

As a little extra to this we had some roasted chestnuts, what with Christmas on the way and all. Nice and easy to make - 

Score a cross into the skin of each nut deep enough to break the skin (makes for easier peeling later on) and place on a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 180°c and cook the chestnuts for around 20-30 mins. That's all there is to it, peel away the skins and enjoy a nice pre-Christmas treat!


Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Stuffed Courgettes and Honey Mustard Roast Potatoes

Courgettes stuffed with mushrooms, pepper, cheddar cheese and breadcrumbs served with delicious potatoes roasted in a wholegrain honey mustard dressing. Serves 2. Simply leave out the cheese for a vegan friendly version of the courgettes.


For the stuffed Courgettes-

2x Large Courgettes
1x Tomato, diced
1x Red Pepper, diced
150g Mushrooms, finely chopped
1x Onion, grated
3x Cloves of Garlic, grated
Breadcrumbs (one slice of bread lightly toasted and crumbled)
250g Cheddar Cheese, grated

For the Potatoes -

300g New Potatoes (with skins left on), washed and halved
3x tbsp Olive Oil
2x tbsp Lemon Juice
2x tsp Honey
2x tsp Wholegrain Mustard

Method - To make the dressing for the potatoes, simply mix together the oil, lemon juice, honey and mustard in a small bowl.

Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes, preheat the oven to 180°c. Parboil the potatoes for 15 minutes. Once the potatoes have cooked, remove them from the heat, drain and place them on a baking tray. Spoon over the dressing and place in the oven, cooking for around 25 minutes. Whilst cooking, it is a good idea to turn the potatoes every 5 minutes or so and spoon any excess dressing back over the top of potatoes to give them a nice, even coating. 

Whilst the potatoes are cooking add boiling water to a large pan, add the courgettes and simmer for around 7 minutes, until the courgettes begin to soften. Once cooked, remove the courgettes from the water and empty the pan.

Halve the courgettes and scoop out the soft inside with a spoon and mash with a fork. Set the courgette skins to one side on a grill pan. Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and any herbs you want and heat for around 5 minutes. Next add the mushrooms, tomato, pepper, half of the breadcrumbs and half of the cheese and mix well, cooking for a further 5 minutes. This mixture makes up the stuffing for the courgettes.

Spoon generous amounts of the mix into the courgette skins, topping with the remainder of the cheese and breadcrumbs. Cook in the oven at 180°c for 15 minutes, until the cheese starts to bubble and the breadcrumbs become crisp.


Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chick Pea & Sweet Potato Burgers

A tasty, vegan-friendly burger recipe. For this recipe I used tinned chickpeas as they need no preparation once drained. You can use dried chickpeas, however, they will require soaking and cooking beforehand. This amount of mixture produced about 10 burgers, great for keeping in the freezer for a quick to cook meal. Also, a large pan is vital here, as the amount of mixture you will end up with can make quite a mess. You can always personalise your burgers by chopping and changing what herbs, spices and nut combinations you like.

1x Onion, grated
3x Cloves of Garlic, grated
300g Sweet Potato (around 2 medium sized potatoes), sliced and cubed
400g tin of chickpeas, drained
2x Carrots, peeled and grated
A small amount of fresh Ginger, peeled and grated (about 16g)
200g Mushrooms, finely chopped
200g Mixed Nuts, finely chopped (Walnuts, Pine Nuts, Brazil Nuts and Cashews)
1x tsp Cumin powder
1x tsp Smoked Paprika
½x tsp Chilli Powder
180g Plain Flour
1x Lemon, juice
Oil for frying

Method - Prepare the ingredients as stated above. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the sweet potato and cook for around 10 minutes, until the potato begins to soften. Whilst the potato is cooking, add some oil to a large frying pan, heat to a medium temperature and add the onion, garlic and spices to the pan. Heat for around 5 minutes, until the onion begins to brown. 

Add the mushrooms to the frying pan and heat for 5 minutes until they begin to soften, once soft add in the chopped nuts and turn the heat down as low as possible. Once the potato has cooked, drain the water and add in the chickpeas. Mash them together roughly, using a fork. Take care not to make this mixture too smooth as you will mash it further later in the recipe and making it too smooth can result in the burgers becoming too sloppy. Add the potato and chickpea mixture, ginger, carrots and lemon juice into the frying pan and mix together. 

Once mixed, remove the pan from the heat. The flour must now be mixed in, the best method for doing this is to measure out the 180g of flour into a bowl and gradually sprinkle, one tablespoon at a time over the mixture and stir well between each tablespoon added. After adding the first few spoonfuls the mixture will noticeably begin to thicken.

Now, in a separate frying pan, heat some more oil to a med-high temperature for frying the burgers. Once the mixture is completed, place a suitable amount onto a floured bread board and use your hands to shape into burger sized patties, ensuring to coat both sides with flour (as shown below) and add to the oil.  

Fry the burgers, turning them regularly until they are crisp and golden brown. They will be ready to serve straight away. I recommend cooking all of the patties and either freezing or refrigerating them. To reheat they can be cooked in the oven or refried.

Particularly nice with mustard, pickles, roasted Curly Kale and Broccoli.


Thursday, 4 October 2012

Walnut, Apple and Blue Cheese Salad

A personal take on a dish I had whilst on holiday in New Haven, CT. A nice and simple salad that requires very little preparation.

Ingredients - 
Cucumber, sliced
Tomatoes, sliced
Apple, sliced
Carrot, peeled and sliced
Stilton cheese, crumbled or grated
Broccoli, cut into florets
Walnuts, finely chopped
Balsamic Vinegar to dress

Simply prepare the ingredients as listed above. Cook the broccoli for 5-7 minutes (or longer if you prefer it softer). Place all the ingredients into a bowl, with the cooked broccoli on top and finally sprinkle the chopped walnuts and blue cheese over the salad. Dress with the balsamic vinegar to taste. Note - You may wish to leave the blue cheese to melt for a minute or two over the cooked broccoli before dressing.

Can be made vegan simply by leaving out the blue cheese, still very tasty.