Almond Nutloaf, a Gorgeous Holiday Choice

 ALMOND NUTLOAF WITH TOMATO HERB GRAVY

Almond NutloafALMOND NUTLOAF WITH TOMATO HERB GRAVY

Holiday dining in a non-vegan household can often feel like choices are extremely limited. Not so if you bring this scrumptious vegan-to-the-core nutloaf to the table. Even the non-veg family and friends will be tempted to start with a sliver.

My experience in non-veg situations is that the doubting Thomases will take a teeny tiny serving at first and taste it hesitantly, half expecting to not like it. Most are taken by surprise, because the darned nutloaf tastes amazing and they like it enough to head back for a realistic serving size. It’s often the very same experience when non-vegans come to my house for a holiday meal.

Plus, what’s not to like? It looks appealing, has an pleasing nutty, crunchy texture, and has a delicious combination of flavors from the medley of herbs and spices baked into it.

In spite of the long list of ingredients and lengthy directions, the nutloaf is actually a snap to assemble. Even better is that you can make the nutloaf up to two days ahead of the holiday frenzy. I’ve even served it cold, but it’s truly much tastier enjoyed nice and warm.

To reheat the nutloaf, remove it from the refrigerator about 2 hours ahead. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and cover the nutloaf with aluminum foil. Tuck it into the oven for about 15 to 25 minutes, or just until heated through.

It’s even terrific as leftovers! There are many times I’ll actually make an extra-large quantity of several dishes, just so I’ll have leftovers. Those leftovers are a blessing when you have out of town family visiting for the holidays and you’re on the run touring them all over the city. it’s so nice to come home to a meal that simply needs a few minutes to warm.

Almond Nutloaf 3I played with a little different way to garnish the nutloaf. It’s easy to make a tomato rose. All you need is a very sharp paring knife and a small tomato. Start by paring the tomato skin close to the stem end and work your way around and around cutting a thin layer of skin somewhat unevenly to create a more natural look. When you’ve pared the tomato completely, then start rolling the skin into a coil with the inner side facing outward. Secure it with a toothpick or two.

If you’re not up for the Tomato Herb Gravy, that’s OK. You don’t NEED it absolutely, but it’s really nice to have that extra little feature in a meal that adds the finishing touch. And, if you’re serving mashed potatoes, you’ll have the gravy all made.

Don’t have a springform pan? No problem. Line an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with enough parchment to drape over the edge on two opposite sides. When it’s all baked, you can lift the nutloaf by the extended parchment and transfer it to a serving platter.

I hope you’ll make this dish and send me some comments. I’d love to read about your experience.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 pound Russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed and coarsely cut into chunks
2 onions, coarsely chopped, divided
3 cloves garlic, coarsely choppedAlmond Nutloaf 3
2 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
Water

2 cups whole raw almonds

1/3 cup raw walnuts
1/3 cup raw pecans

4 medium, fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup matzoh meal or bread crumbs
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 or 2 pinches cayenne (optional)

1 recipe Tomato Herb Gravy (below)

Garnish

1 or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
Fresh dill, parsley, or cilantro

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. and remove the collar of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of with parchment cut 2 inches larger than the pan. Snap the collar back on and lightly oil the sides. Use a scissors to cut away the excess parchment. Place the pan on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.
  1. Put the potatoes in a 2-quart saucepan and add 1/4 of the onions. Add the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and water to cover. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.
  1. Meanwhile, put the remaining onions in a food processor and pulse-chop until they are finely minced. Transfer them to a large skillet and add about 1/4 cup of water. Cook and stir over high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened, adding 1 or more tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.
  1. Put the almonds in a food processor and process until they are finely ground, yet slightly textured. Transfer them to a large bowl.
  1. Process the walnuts and pecans in the food processor until finely ground, yet slightly textured. Add them to the bowl with the almonds.
  1. Thoroughly drain the onions and potatoes in a colander. Transfer them to a medium bowl and mash them well. Then, add them to the bowl with the nuts.
  1. Add the tomatoes, matzoh meal, tomato paste, garlic, the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, basil, thyme, marjoram, pepper, and cayenne, if using. Mix the ingredients thoroughly to distribute the seasonings evenly.
  1. Spoon the mixture into the prepared springform pan, packing it firmly with a spoon or your hands to avoid air pockets.
  1. Arrange the diced tomatoes over the top and press them into the surface lightly. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until firm when gently pressed. Remove the pan from the oven and allow it to stand for 15 to 20 minutes.
  1. To Serve, place the springform pan on a large serving platter. Loosen the edges of the nutloaf with a knife and lift off the springform collar. Garnish the platter with fresh herbs. Use a serrated knife to cut the nutloaf into serving wedges and serve the Tomato Herb Gravy on the side.

Tomato Herb Gravy

3 cups water
3 medium size Roma tomatoes, diced
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

  1. Combine the water, tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice, and onion powder in a 2-quart saucepan.
  2. Create a bouquet garni by placing the rosemary, thyme, and sage into the center of a small piece of cheesecloth. Then gather up the ends to enclose the herbs, and tie it securely with a string. Add the bouquet garni to the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and simmer about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the bouquet garni and discard it. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Combine the arrowroot and water in a small cup or bowl and stir it well to form a runny paste. Add the paste to the gently simmering tomato gravy a little at a time stirring with a wire whip for about 1 minute, or until the gravy is thickened to desired consistency. Cook one minute longer and season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about 3 1/4 cups.
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