It was -5oC here on our grey island the other day, it reminded me of our freezing Christmas and not at all of Spring (it is allegedly now Spring!) I come from a family of food lovers and Christmas time can get a little ‘foodie’ and delicious. But of all the amazing food we ate over the festive period, this Roast Chestnut and Spinach Terrine stood head and shoulders above it all.
This was Christmas day lunch for the Watson family (well my part of the lunch anyway) and the recipe has been hanging around ever since demanding to be posted and shared. This is a delicious slab of baked nut and leaf and will meet all the demands of the vegetarian seeking something rather special to impress/ reward/ treat loved ones, friends and guests. It’s quite a grand looking thing that can be wheeled out for any special occasion. You get the point!
Up at Mum and Dad’s in the wilds of west Durham, we had flown back from our glorious little pad on the Med to a blanket of deep grey mist and drizzle for a crimbo. A time to retire to the kitchen and feast; drink red wine and whiskey, forget about the sun and personal well-being and throw yourself headlong into christmas pudding, huddle around the fire (playing charades if desperation sets in). Ah, great memories of festive times.
This dish works well at anytime of year, but is especially rewarding when things are colder and darker. February is perfect for that, the January detox is over and your ready to over indulge again! What a glorious cycle!
Chestnuts make great roasts, they are the starchiest of all nuts so they bind things together nicely. Collapsed terrines taste fine, they just look like a horrible accident.
This superbly glorified nut roast has all the richness of a meat-style dish and will sate any carnivore (for a while, just don’t tell them that it is vegan!) We absolutely loved it and most of the family preferred this to the fish that was also being served. It is moist and hearty and is a real looker, a dish that naturally takes centre stage.
It has a few steps in preparation and does take a little effort, but your loved ones are definitely worth it.
Have a magic (festive) February!
This recipe fills a large terrine dish and is good for 8 portions. If you don’t have a terrine dish, you can use any deep and, preferably narrow, oven dish.
Nut layer – 8oz mixed nuts coarsely ground (hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans), 2 oz dried apricots, 4oz breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 onions (finely chopped), 3 ripe red tomatoes (chopped), 2 tbs good tomato puree, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, pinch of cinnamon, pinch of ground clove, 3 cloves garlic (crushed), sea salt and black pepper,
Chestnut layer – 2 oz chestnut mushrooms, 8oz chestnut puree (best homemade if you can), 4oz cooked chestnuts, 1 tbsp breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp oil, 1 large onion, 2 sticks celery,
Spinach layer – 1 oz butter (we used olive vegan spread here), 3 garlic cloves (crushed), 1 kg spinach leaves,
Nut layer – Blitz in a food processor the mixed nuts and apricots then mix together with the breadcrumbs. Some chunks are fine.
On medium heat, fry off onions until soft and add your mushrooms, cook for a minute and then add your tomatoes and puree. Cook until a thick sauce-like texture is formed. Season, cool (20 mins in the freezer) and then add to blitzed nut mix, stirring in the egg and spices. Set aside. One down…..
Chestnut layer – Fry off your onion and celery until soft, then add you chestnut puree and cook for 10 minutes on a medium heat, then add cooked chestnuts and breadcrumbs. Season and set aside. Two down…..
Spinach layer – Melt butter/ alternative in a saucepan and fry garlic for 3o seconds and then add spinach leaves, lower heat and allow to slowly cook for 10 mins with lid on. Empty into a colander and gentle squeeze out excessive water. Season and set aside. Nearly there…
Preheat oven 180oC
Oil you baking dish, then line with greaseproof paper, begin to add your layers, gauging quantities it should go; nut, spinach, nut, chestnut, nut and pressing down evenly and firmly as you go. Cover with oiled greaseproof paper and bake on the middle shelf for 35 – 40 minutes.
Remove from oven, then turn up heat to 200oC. Empty the terrine out, ever so gently, onto a baking tray and play back into the oven for a final crisping. Bake for around 10 minutes or until you are happy that the terrine is looking nicely browned.
Remove from oven and leave to rest on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving.
One your finest platter, we scattered a few basil leaves that were lingering around. Cut in and served in nice thick slices, no sauce required, it should be nice and moist.
We Love It!
This dish will now always remind us of Christmas and happy times, we may even be making it every Christmas from now on. Can we wait that long!?
Chestnuts should not just be for Christmas, they are an awesome nut all year round and superbly healthy. Chestnuts originate in China are are best in the cooler months, they are lower in fat than all other nuts and are a great source of minerals, protein and vitamins; especially rich in vitamin C. Their starchy make up is not dissimilar to a potato! Of course they are gluten free and make a great alternative, when dried and ground, to flour.