My go to Sunday roast recipe is an adaptation from a nut roast that I learnt from my very first vegetarian cookbook: Linda McCartney on Tour It is still a favourite but flicking through it nowadays shows just how much veggie and vegan food has come on since the ’90s. It isn’t all nut loafs and lentil lasagnes.
Linda now has to jostle for space alongside Anjum Anand’s delightful Indian Vegetarian Feast, the Thug Kitchen cookbook, Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Plenty More and Sally Butcher’s Veggistan – all of which delight with flavours and ingredients that even Linda wouldn’t have been familiar with back in the day.
On Sunday morning I was sweating it out in a hardcore circuits class and my mind wandered to food. What else could get me through the pain?! A day at home to finish some work was all that lay ahead so I started to think about what to cook as a reward for getting the work done. My problem then is not to get distracted by cooking and actually do the work first… A friend had recently been talking cauliflower so cauliflower cheese popped in to my head and from there the idea to make a full Sunday roast emerged. That is actually how my brain works! Despite having checked out many of London’s vegan roast options I rarely make one myself – unless it’s Christmas – so it was a great opportunity to get creative.
On my way to Lidl I decided that the roast would be chickpea-based as we had loads at home and I hadn’t actually done that before. All I needed was veg which I chose based on getting as wide a variety of colours as possible (still recovering from my Scottish beige food fest). I realised I didn’t have anything red so decided that red pepper should become involved which is how this dish was born!
If you’re not a pepper fan then either exclude or replace it. The loaf would work brilliantly with spinach, kale or more carrot and would be just as delicious without any added veggies. After all, everyone knows that any banging roast is ALL about the sides.
I loosely based my recipe on my usual nut loaf as well as my vegan haggis recipe – using oats to bulk the mixture out. I wanted the flavours to be light and fresh as often roasts are dense and rich so choose lemon, parsley and smoked paprika to be the main flavours. I was also secretly channeling spring as the rain drizzled down on the kitchen window.
The recipe also includes seeds to give it a little crunch. To give it a slight nutty texture you can add an optional tablespoon of either tahini or peanut butter. I used tahini which worked well against the lemon, herbs and spices.
To create a slightly spongey texture I included a bit of aquafab (the water from the chickpeas) so be sure to save that.
I served this roast with roasted carrots, chilli green beans, cauliflower cheese, roasted sweet potatoes with ginger, cumin and fresh coriander, garlicky kalettes, greens in rice wine vinegar and soy sauce, peanut baby corn and red onion and mushroom gravy. All in all a delightful rainbow of a dinner!
Chickpea and red pepper loaf
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or use a non-stick pan)
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tin of chickpeas, drained but keep the chickpea water
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp tahini or peanut butter (optional)
- 2 tbsp mixed seeds
- 2 tbsp oats
- 1 tbsp aquafab (chickpea water)
- 2 tbsps fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Heat the oil on a medium heat and gently fry the onions until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes until lightly browned.
Add the carrot, peppers, cumin, rosemary and paprika and cook until peppers are slightly soft. Transfer about half of the mixture to a blender or processor along with the drained chickpeas, lemon juice and tahini. Pulse until you have an almost smooth consistency. It should still have a bit of texture to it.
Mix with the remaining cooked vegetables and stir in the oats, one tablespoon of the seeds aquafab and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The texture should be slightly spongey. Add more oats if you want it to be more firm.
Transfer to a non-stick loaf tin (or grease a tin that is not non-stick), even out the top and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of seeds pushing them down so they stick in the mixture.
Cook for 30 minutes until it is slightly brown. Either turn it out on to a tray – be aware that some of the seeds might come loose – or use a spatula to get it out. Serve be the slice with your selection of choice sides.