Nut roast isn't just for veggies – when it's cooked like this, everyone will want some this Christmas

Making a nut roast isn't an exact science and you can be quite flexible about what you put into it as long as the staple ingredients – nuts, breadcrumbs, herbs and something to bind it all together – are all there.

What nuts should I use?

While it’s perfectly acceptable to use bagged, ready-chopped, mixed nuts for a nut roast, make sure you buy a fresh bag. Stale nuts will ruin what should be a star-of-the-show main course. Chestnuts, especially if you use vacuum-packed or tinned, pre-cooked ones, add a lovely texture and flavour that complements the crunchier texture of hazelnuts, almonds and cashews. Walnuts and Brazil nuts have a lovely earthy, creamy flavour, and pine nuts give a welcome chewiness. Pistachios add a lovely colour and their own unique flavour too. While roasted nuts add a different flavour dimension, avoid using salted nuts. It’s safer to add your own seasoning to the nut roast mix as it’s more controllable that way, especially if you’re using any stock or serving with a gravy.

Can I add anything else?

Any type of mushrooms work, with soaked dried porcinis or shiitake mushrooms adding a beautifully pungent flavour. Stilton is an obvious choice, but goat’s cheese also works well. A handful of cooked aubergine or carrots, grated courgette or cooked parsnips can add colour and variety, while cooked brown rice is great as a binding choice, as it gives a great texture. Yeast extract (or a vegetarian alternative) is favoured by some nut roast enthusiasts, as it adds a lovely kick of umami to the flavour.

Any else that will make it stand out?

Try using pulses or lentils instead of breadcrumbs (or a half-and-half mixture). Haricots or kidney beans are excellent additions too, and are a good substitute for breadcrumbs if you’re already serving stuffing.

Classic nut roast

A traditional recipe, but adding toasted seeds makes this nut roast extra special.

 

Next-level nut roast with spiced cranberry relish

This is packed with comforting butternut squash and chestnut mushrooms, with sweetness coming from cranberries and prunes.

 

Nut roast en croûte

A nut roast with a twist – the outer pastry layer makes this a filling Christmas dinner.