While there is quite a lot to do to put this together, the effort is definitely worth it. It lasts in the fridge for a good few days and is delicious served cold for lunch with a fresh, crisp salad.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and finely diced
1 large carrot, grated
1 tsp dried oregano
100g red lentils
2 tbsp tomato purée
300ml vegetable stock
100g fresh breadcrumbs
150g mixed nuts such as walnuts, peacans, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
100g mature cheddar, grated
handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
For the Tomato Sauce
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 sprig rosemary
Heat the oven to 180C/ fan 160C/ gas 4 and line the base and sides of a 1.5 litre loaf tin with parchment paper.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and 15g butter in a large frying pan and cook 1 finely chopped large onion and 2 finely chopped celery sticks for about 5 mins until beginning to soften.
Stir in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and 200g finely chopped chestnut mushrooms and cook for a further 10 mins.
Stir in 1 finely diced red pepper and 1 grated carrot and cook for about 3 mins then add 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp smoked paprika and cook for just a minute.
Add 100g red lentils and 2 tbsp tomato purée and cook for about 1 min, then add 300ml vegetable stock and simmer over a very gentle heat until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is fairly dry. This should take about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Finally, stir in 100g fresh breadcrumbs, 150g chopped mixed nuts, 3 lightly beaten large eggs, 100g grated mature cheddar, a handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper.
Stir to mix well then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press down the surface.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 mins, then remove the foil and bake for a further 20 mins until firm when pressed gently.
Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil very gently then add 2 finely sliced garlic cloves and 1 rosemary sprig and heat without colouring.
Pour in 400ml passata and add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Simmer gently for just 15 mins.
Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for about 10 mins then turn out onto a serving board or plate. Remove the baking paper and cut into slices and serve with a little of the tomato sauce.
To make a vegan nut roast, use an extra tbsp of oil in place of butter, no cheese and 3 tbsp egg replacer. Bake your nut roast for 1 hour. The loaf will still be soft in the middle after cooking.
It can be cooked in advance and then chilled, sliced and reheated to make it easier to serve.