Nutroast is a traditional Christmas treat for British vegetarians. This isn’t much like the traditional version. (Indeed, nuts are optional.) It also works as a nice side dish with roast meat, and can be eaten at any time of year.

Prep time, 10 mins, cooking time 40 mins.

Pour a slosh of olive oil into a frying pan. It should be a frying pan and not a wok, because you want the onions to caramelize a little. But it should be a big frying pan and not a little one, because you need lots of room.

Chop three medium or two big onions into thin string pieces, the same shape as for French onion soup. Saute the onions in the oil in the frying pan until all onions are cooked and the ones on the bottom are beginning to caramelize. Turn off the heat. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, if it isn’t already on cooking the meat.

Put either:

a) A handful of tarragon (fresh or dried)


b) A large handful of finely chopped fresh sage and thyme


c) An ice-cube of frozen chopped liquidized sage and thyme

into the frying pan. Stir until the herbs coat the onions.

(It really makes a difference what herbs you use. Tarragon is best if you don’t have fresh herbs, because dried tarragon is very good. Dried sage OTOH isn’t worth bothering with. And I’ve done this with dried herbs de provence where you could hardly tell they were there. Oh well.)

Put a teaspoonful of the Secret Ingredient (marmite) into the frying pan. Stir it in until the marmite coats the onions and herbs. This is not optional. You need marmite. It doens’t matter whether you like it or not — I don’t like it on its own, but it’s essential as a secret ingredient.

Put half a pound or metric equivalent of finely grated cheese into the frying pan. You can use any old cheese for this. Sometimes I have used all mozzarella, sometimes all cheddar. Yesterday I used 40% Lancashire, 40% Jarlsberg and 20% mozzarella, approximately. The cheese you use does make a difference, but not all that much.

Stir it around carefully until it’s sort of stirred in.

Add five ounces of rolled oats. Stir them around very carefully until the whole thing looks mixed.

In a mixing bowl, beat two (or three, if using nuts) eggs. Then scrape the contents of the frying pan carefully into the mixing bowl and mix well. If using nuts, add three ounces of ground hazelnuts at this point, and stir well. Everything should be slightly gloopy and full of oats and onions.

Press the mixture into a souffle dish, so that it’s fairly even. Bake for 40 minutes. Delicious hot or cold. If you’re serving this as a vegetarian main course, serve with lots of vegetables. Vegetarian food messes vegetables up a lot, and many vegetarians of my acquaintance are quite excited to get a slab of nutroast with vegetables served as vegetables.