Rich and decadent, this is a vegan and gluten-free nut roast for special occasions! Forget about the bland dry old things that used to be served as vegitarian roasts, this flavoursome chestnut and butternut squash nut roast would rival any roast meat for centre of attention! Filled with savoury umami flavours and the most divine vegan gravy you will ever find, this is the perfect gluten-free and vegan centrepiece for your Christmas lunch.
I started my vegan journey in January of this year (doing Veganuary). Like many others who did the same, Christmas has been looming over me for the last few months as the ultimate test of my allegiance to veganism! I was so worried about what to make for my vegan Christmas lunch that I started my planning and research back in July!
After trying out quite a few different recipes, I started tinkering with creating my own vegan and gluten-free nut roast recipe with a deeper, richer flavour and better texture. Finally, after a few weeks of having nut roast every single week, I’ve nailed the recipe! With its deep savoury umami flavours, this is quite simply the best nut roast I have ever tried!
I’ve mentioned before that gravy is very important to me and I actually already had a really good red onion gravy recipe that I was happy to use for my Christmas gravy. However, after I added porcini mushrooms to my nut roast, there was the leftover mushroom soaking water that I really didn’t want to waste. So, another beautiful vegan gravy was born!
This gravy is so elegant and refined that I thought the word gravy didn’t seem to do it justice. So, it is a red wine and porcini jus! Not quite a real jus since that is the French word for the meat cooking juices. But the porcini mushrooms give this dish its meatiness, and the sauce is made from the porcini soaking juices, so you see my thinking… Anyway, whatever the name, it’s divine and you must try it!
Ok I’ll admit this is a long list of ingredients but this is a for a special occasion so I think it’s worth it, right?
- Dried Porcini Mushrooms – I buy them in a little jar or bag and you just re-hydrate them by soaking in boiling water. Great to have in your store cupboard for jazzing up risottos or pasta too! If you don’t have porcini mushrooms, any other dried flavoursome mushrooms will do. You just want that strong flavour and you need the soaking liquor for the gravy too!
- Ground Flax Seeds – the difficulty with making vegan nut roast is that you can’t use egg and cheese that are traditionally used in a vegetarian nut roast to bind it. Here I use ground flax seeds mixed with water to do the binding job of eggs and they work brilliantly. You can also use chia seeds if you prefer.
- Vegetables – I choose not to use the same vegetables that will be served alongside as sides (e.g. parsnips, sprouts, cranberries) since that would just be doubling up. So I use sumptuous roasted butternut squash and carrots, and then onion, celery and garlic for depth of flavour.
- Nuts – Most of the nuts in this nut roast are chestnuts, since this is a Christmas recipe and chestnuts are so lovely at this time of year. They are also softer and more starchy so they help to provide structure in this nut roast. The remaining ⅓ of nuts is your choice of mixed nuts. I like to use a mixture of almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts so that no one nut is dominating the flavour.
- Beluga Lentils – these are tiny lentils that are a kind of cross between puy lentils and brown lentils. Much smaller than brown lentils but not as hard as puy lentils. They are perfect in this nut roast for adding a little more protein without overpowering the flavour or overly affecting the consistency. Feel free to swap out with either brown or puy lentils if you prefer.
- Chestnut Flour – since this is a chestnut flavoured nut roast, I have used chestnut flour for the grain. This has the added advantage of making this nut roast grain free for anyone interested in that. If you don’t have any chestnut flour, brown rice flour works just as well (I have tried this too!). I’m sure a good gluten-free flour blend would work as well.
- Seasoning – the additional flavours here are from sage and thyme, nutritional yeast (you gotta love a little nooch for its slight cheesiness and fab vitamin B12 content!), GF yeast extract (basically, a gluten-free version of marmite) (optional but it does add more B vitamins and that meaty (but entirely vegan!) background flavour), and the perennial Christmas favourite spices, allspice and mace. If you don’t have mace, you can use nutmeg instead.
- Red Wine & Porcini Jus Ingredients – the porcini mushroom soaking liquid and the red wine make up the bulk of the liquid. This is flavoured with thyme, stock powder, tamari and a touch of brown rice syrup to provide a slight sweetness. Then it is thickened with cornstarch mixed with a little water. You could use arrowroot as an alternative to the cornstarch if you prefer.
How To Make This Amazing Gluten-Free & Vegan Nut Roast?
Please don’t be put off by the length of the recipe card! There’s a lot of detail in there! The steps can be broken down like this:
- Soak the mushrooms in boiling water.
- Mix the ground flax seeds with water.
- Roast the butternut squash and carrots.
- Air fry or roast the nuts and chestnuts.
- Sauté the onion and celery, then add the garlic.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Stir over the heat for a few minutes.
- Empty into a lined loaf tin. Lay bay leaves on top. Roast for 45 minutes.
- Make the vegan gravy by boiling the ingredients together in a pan. Then mix the cornstarch with a little water and whisk it into the jus. Simmer over a gentle heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes until thickened and glossy.
Tips For Making The Best Nut Roast & Vegan Gravy
- The nut roast needs to rest for 10-15 minutes after it comes out of the oven, before serving. This allows the texture to firm up before trying to cut it.
- Cut the vegetables into small cubes so that no one vegetable is dominating with large chunks. This also helps the structure of the nut loaf.
- Once the butternut squash and carrot has roasted, mash some of it a little with a wooden spoon, so that some of it functions as a binder. You can do the same to the chestnuts, which will press down very easily with a spoon.
- Although this nut roast tastes amazing, it can be quite hard to make nut roast look beautiful! I find it’s prettiest garnished with some seasonal red currants, fresh perennial herbs and cape gooseberries to make it look festive.
Vegan Nut Roast and Gluten-Free Gravy FAQs
Yes! Nut roast freezes well. The best way is to freeze it uncooked, ready to defrost overnight and roast on the day. Alternatively, you could freeze it ready cooked, but you may need to cover it with foil when you re-heat it in the oven so that it does not overcook.
This gluten-free red wine & porcini jus is thickened with cornstarch rather than the traditional roux-based gravy method using plain flour. This involves a different but, in fact, easier cooking method. Basically, you first make the base liquid flavoured to your liking then you thicken that liquid with cornstarch (or arrowroot) mixed with a little water. It’s very easy but you need to be aware of the rules for cooking with cornstarch! (see below)
Tips For Thickening Gravy With Cornstarch (or Arrowroot)
Cornstarch is a wonderful ingredient for thickening gluten-free sauces because it is very effective and works very quickly! However, it can be a little tricky to work with for that very reason too! You see the trouble is that it cooks and thickens so quickly that it can become lumpy in seconds. So, you need to follow a few simple rules when you’re making gravy thickened with cornstarch. (Arrowroot behaves in much the same way)
- Cornstarch cannot be added to a sauce on its own. You need to mix the cornstarch with a tiny bit of COLD water to make a “cornstarch slurry”. It becomes a thin watery white liquid. If you leave it for a few minutes, it will become stiff but you can just stir it to go liquid again.
- You then whisk that cornstarch slurry into the base liquid off the heat, then put the pan back on the heat and whisk CONSTANTLY over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes until it thickens. You want it to simmer and bubble gently but not boil ferociously! If it doesn’t bubble at all, then the heat is too low and your cornstarch won’t cook and thicken. If it bubbles too much, then your cornstarch will lose its thickening properties. So you want a medium simmer.
- If your gravy does go lumpy, DON’T WORRY, it probably means you just didn't quite whisk it in fast enough. You can fix it by getting the gravy to your desired consistency, then just strain it through a sieve to remove any cornstarch lumps. The flavour will not be affected! Note, you might need to add a little more cornstarch slurry since your original cornstarch slurry has clumped together and so hasn't been distributed throughout the gravy.
As I’ve said before, this is really a special occasion nut roast so I would serve it as a wonderful vegan Christmas lunch with all the vegan trimmings! I’m thinking vegan boulangere potatoes, roast brussels sprouts, chopped carrot & swede, braised red cabbage, parsnips with maple syrup and mustard, bread sauce and cranberry sauce!
If you want to get ahead with your cooking, this vegan and gluten-free nut roast could be made ahead up to the point of pouring into the loaf tin (before cooking) and then cooled and refrigerated (for up to 3 days) or frozen (for up to 1 month). For serving, just defrost in the fridge overnight, and follow the rest of the instructions to roast on the day.
For freezing fully cooked, roast it for just ½ hour and then wrap and freeze it after cooling. Then when you want to serve it, defrost overnight and roast it for a good ½ hour on the day. If it starts to brown too much, then just put some foil over it to protect it from browning.
How long it needs to roast will depend on how much it has defrosted. It is best to check the internal temperature after roasting to make sure it is hot all the way through. You can do this by sticking a metal skewer in the middle for 5 seconds then touching it to the inside of your wrist. If it is too hot to leave against your skin, then it’s the right temperature!
Storage & Leftovers
Keep in leftovers wrapped in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 1 month.
Use leftovers chopped up in a sandwich or a pie. You could use this vegan pot pie recipe as a guide - use the leftover nut roast in place of the tofu; leftover gravy in place of the creamy mustard sauce; and any other leftover vegetables in place of the vegetables! You could also serve leftovers with mashed potato and gravy or thrown into a boxing day stir fry!
📖 Recipe 📖
Decadent Nut Roast with Red Wine and Porcini Jus
- 25 g dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- 135 g butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 100 g chestnuts (pre-cooked and peeled)
- 50 g mixed nuts
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 100 ml vegetable stock
- 50 g chestnut flour
- 40 g beluga lentils
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free yeast extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground mace
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking paper.
- Soak the dried mushrooms in 500ml boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain and sieve the soaking water into a jug. Cut the mushrooms into small pieces. Set aside the mushrooms and the sieved mushroom water.25 g dried porcini mushrooms
- Mix the chopped butternut squash and carrots with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.135 g butternut squash, 1 carrot, 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Mix the flax seeds with double the quantity of water in a cup (so 2 tablespoon ground flax with 4 tablespoon water). Set aside until later.2 tablespoon ground flax seeds
- Either air fry the mixed nuts and chestnuts for 5 minutes @ 180°C or add them to one end of the roasting tin with the butternut squash and carrots for the final 10 minutes of roasting time. (Air frying gives a better result)50 g mixed nuts, 100 g chestnuts (pre-cooked and peeled)
- Sauté the onion and celery over a medium heat until browned (about 5 minutes). Then add the garlic and the chopped pre-soaked mushrooms. Sauté for another 2 minutes.1 onion, 1 celery stick, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 garlic cloves
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together over the heat until the liquid has cooked off.100 ml vegetable stock, 50 g chestnut flour, 40 g beluga lentils, 1 tablespoon dried sage, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon gluten-free yeast extract (optional), 1 teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon ground mace
- Add the flax seed mixture and the butternut squash, carrots and nuts. Mix well to thoroughly combine and evenly distribute all of the ingredients. It should be quite thick and difficult to mix at this point – you almost have to kind of fold it over with a wooden spoon!
- Empty the contents of the pan into the loaf tin. Lay some bay leaves on top. Then roast in the oven at 200°C for 40-50 minutes. (Cover with foil if it starts to brown a little too much). Test whether it is done by gently pressing the top with your fingers. It should feel spongy and bounce back a little not feel liquidy and soft inside.
- Meanwhile, make the jus. Add enough water to the sieved mushroom soaking water to top it up to 500ml. Pour it into a pan with the red wine, fresh thyme sprigs, vegetable stock powder, tamari, and brown rice syrup. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Taste. If it has boiled down a little too much, it might become too salty so top up with some more water.500 ml mushroom soaking water, 100 ml red wine, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder, 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup, 1 teaspoon tamari
- Mix the cornstarch with a little bit of water in a cup until it is a smooth thin liquid. Bring the gravy pan off the heat and whisk in the cornstarch liquid. Put back on the heat and simmer gently over a medium-low heat, while stirring, until the gravy thickens to your liking (about 5 minutes). Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little more syrup or salt as necessary. Remove the thyme sprigs and pour into a gravy boat.2 teaspoon cornstarch
- After taking the nut roast out of the oven, leave it to rest for 15 minutes before serving (to set the texture). Then serve garnished with some seasonal redcurrants and some sprigs of thyme or rosemary.
- For mixed nuts, I like to use pistachios, walnuts, almonds and cashews but you can choose whichever nuts you like best!
- If you mash the chestnuts and carrots and squash a little with a wooden spoon after cooking, it will help to give a firmer texture.
- When you make the cornflour slurry, you need to add cold water NOT hot water otherwise it will go all lumpy rather than turning into a thin liquid.
- The gravy could go lumpy if you don’t whisk it enough after adding the cornstarch slurry. Don’t worry about this, just strain it to get the lumps out (and add a little more cornstarch slurry if it needs to thicken more). It’s fine.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
More Christmas Recipes
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free Christmas recipes too with plenty more ideas for a vegan or vegitarian roast in the Gluten-Free Vegan Christmas Dinner Menu Ideas post and the Gluten-Free Vegan Thanksgiving Menu Ideas post: