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  • Seasonal local food recipe No. 345 – Nigel’s Christmas vegetarian loaf

    Posted on December 20th, 2016 Janet No comments

    I would have made this parsnip loaf from Nigel Slater in The Guardian if I hadn’t received a request from my son for roast parsnips.  Its herb flavourings and seedy texture do sound delicious, so I will try it at some point in the not-too-distant future.

    Serves 6

    Preparation time: 60 minutes
    Cooking time: 45 minutes

    Ingredients
    parsnips 500g
    carrots 250g
    apple 1
    butter 75g
    onions 2, medium
    garlic 2 large cloves
    parsley 2 heaped tbsp, chopped
    rosemary needles 2 tbsp
    thyme leaves 1 tbsp
    hemp seeds 1 tbsp
    pumpkin seeds 1 tbsp
    sunflower seeds 1 tbsp
    poppy seeds 1 tbsp
    eggs 2
    butter for greasing the loaf tin
    thyme sprigs 8

    You will also need a loaf tin measuring about 22cm x 12cm x 8cm, lined with baking parchment.

    Peel the parsnips, then cut lengthways into quarters. Grate them finely using the coarse blade of a food processor, slightly thinner than matchsticks, then do the same with the carrot. (I don’t find it necessary to peel the carrots, only to scrub them with a vegetable brush.) Grate the apple, without peeling it, and add to the bowl.

    Warm half the butter in a shallow pan, then add the grated root vegetables and apple and let them cook, for 3 or 4 minutes, until they are bright and approaching softness. Tip them into a large mixing bowl. Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

    Peel, halve and finely slice the onions. Melt the remaining butter in the shallow pan then cook the onion until it is soft and pale gold. Peel the garlic, crush finely then add to the onion and continue cooking. Tip the onion and garlic into the bowl with the carrots and parsnips. Add the chopped parsley to the mixture then finely chop the rosemary needles and thyme and add them, too. Add the hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and poppy seeds and a generous grinding of salt and pepper.

    Break the eggs into a bowl, beat them lightly to combine yolks and whites, then fold into the mixture. Combine the ingredients making sure the seeds, eggs and herbs are evenly distributed.

    Line the loaf tin with baking parchment then butter it generously. Scatter a few thyme sprigs over the bottom of the tin. Transfer the mixture into the loaf tin, pressing it firmly into place. Smooth the surface level and cover with buttered parchment. Place the loaf tin on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until lightly firm to the touch.

    Remove from the oven and leave to settle for 10 minutes then turn out of the tin and carefully peel away the paper. Cut into slices and serve with the sauce (below) or Cumberland or cranberry sauce.

    Stout and onion gravy
    A dark and deeply-flavoured accompaniment for this loaf, but also good for spooning over baked vegetables or a slice of pie.

    harvesting-onions-camelcsa-0816Enough for 6
    onions 2, medium
    butter 40g
    garlic 3 cloves
    button mushrooms 250g
    olive oil 3 tbsp
    thyme sprigs 8
    plain flour 1-2 tbsp
    vegetable stock 250ml, hot
    stout or other dark beer 250ml
    fruit jelly, such as redcurrant 4 tbsp

    Peel the onions, cut them in half from stem to root, then slice each half into thin segments. Warm the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and leave to cook over a medium heat. Peel and thinly slice the garlic, add to the onions and continue cooking for a good 15-20 minutes until the onions are thoroughly soft, golden and sweet.

    Slice or quarter the button mushrooms as you wish then add them, together with the oil, to the onions. Pull the thyme leaves from their stalks then stir into the onions and mushrooms. When the mushrooms are soft and nut brown, scatter the flour over the surface, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour in the stock and stout and bring to the boil. While stirring, lower the heat, season with salt and black pepper, then leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

    Stir in the redcurrant or other fruit jelly, taste for sweetness, adding more if you wish. You are after a nicely-balanced gravy – savoury and sweet with a deep, wintry character.