Okay, Okay, so the title is a little boastful, but whenever I cook it people fall in love with it and beg me for the recipe. So here it is; you can stop begging now.
The Boring Bits
- Serves 3-4
- Preparation time: 25-30 minutes
- Cooking time: 40 minutes
- 14 oz (400g) tofu, chopped into 1/2 centimetre cubes
- 6 oz (170g) onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of finely-chopped dried hot chillis
- 1 oz (28g) butter
- 3 vegetable stock cubes
- 1/2 cup (110ml) boiling water (for the stock cubes)
- 4oz (110g) finely-chopped closed-cap mushrooms
- 3 1/2 oz (100g) pine nuts
- 9 oz (250g) cashew nuts
- 3 oz (80g) walnuts, halved =or= 3oz (80g) chestnuts, halved
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tsp fresh basil (or 3 tsp dried)
- salt and black pepper
Throwing it all together
It’s worth preparing the nuts and veg before you do anything else, because there’s quite a lot of them.
The garlic needs to be crushed – just place the unpeeled clove on a chopping board, place the blade of the knife flat on top of it, and press down reasonably hard. The skin should flake away as the clove crushes. Then just separate out the crushed chunks.
The cashew nuts need to be finely ground. This is possible in a blender if you stop once in a while to jumble up the remaining whole nuts, but a food processor is probably easier if you’ve got one. Your other option is a reasonable-sized pestle and mortar.
The other ingredients (tofu, onions, mushrooms, walnuts/chestnuts) should be prepared as described in the ingredients list.
Now make up your stock from the cubes (alternatively you can use fresh stock if you have it, of course). Add it to a large saucepan, and then add the onions, chilli and garlic. Bring it to the boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes. There should still be enough liquid to cover most of the onions at the end of simmering. Top the pan up if it runs low.
In a large bowl, combine the tofu, eggs, butter, basil, walnuts/chestnuts, pine and cashew nuts and mushrooms. They come together best if you stir them all in with a fork. Season with as much salt and pepper as you like.
Once the stock and onion mixture are ready, fold it into the tofu and egg mixture, mixing thoroughly so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
(Note: it’s possible to put the mixture in a container and refrigerate overnight, if you want to prepare it ahead of time.)
Now, grease a loaf tin with some butter, and place the mixture in the tin. Frankly, it’ll look pretty unappetising at this point, but it’ll cook beautifully. Really. I promise.
Cook it for 40 minutes at 350F (180C). If you don’t have a fan oven then make sure it’s on the shelf nearest the heating element (yes, American ovens with the element down at the bottom, I’m looking at you…)
When you stick a knife or a skewer into the loaf it should come out clean, without any liquid mixture stuck to it. Leave it for another ten minutes or so if it doesn’t quite seem cooked at 40 minutes.
You can serve this with just about anything which would go with meat. Roast potatoes can be fantastic, or you can try something different. Last time I did this, I cooked it along with honey-mustard baby carrots and asparagus garnished with parmesan.
On the other hand, the first time I ever cooked it was as part of a Christmas dinner (where the assembled meat-eaters proceeded to ignore the turkey I’d spent 5 hours over, and tuck into this instead, ingrates…) To give it a more christmassy feel that time, I used the Chestnuts in place of the Walnuts on the ingredients list.
However you serve it, the veggies in your life will love you for this. Just don’t lose the recipe; they might never forgive you…