This Nut Roast is a hearty vegetarian main course that’s perfect for a big holiday dinner. I love the nutty flavor that walnuts and pecans add to this vegetarian loaf, paired with mushrooms for a remarkably “meaty” look and texture that everyone loves!
What is a Nut Roast?
A nut roast is a vegetarian dish made with nuts, grains, and seasonings that is pressed into a loaf pan and baked as an alternative to a traditional roast. It makes a great vegetarian main course for a holiday meal!
Here are the main ingredients in this Nut Roast:
- Brown rice
The combination may sound a little unusual, but the resulting flavor and texture are remarkably delicious. It visually resembles a meatloaf, and the savory flavor goes perfectly with your favorite Thanksgiving vegetable side dishes.
Time-Saving Nut Roast Tips
This loaf is relatively easy to prepare if you have pre-cooked rice on hand. I use my Instant Pot to make brown rice (see my Instant Pot Brown Rice tutorial for directions), or you can use frozen cooked rice to cut-down on the effort.
Once you have brown rice on hand, all you have to do is chop some mushrooms— which is quick & easy if you use your food processor– and saute them with with onions and garlic, before you mix everything else together.
A few pulses in the food processor will break down the mushrooms so you won’t have any noticeable bites of mushroom in this loaf. (It really looks like “meat” in this loaf!)
You can use your food processor again to transform the nuts into a coarse flour for this vegetarian “meatloaf.” (No need to rinse the food processor in between processing!)
Once everything is mixed together in a large bowl, you just have to press it into a loaf pan and bake until golden. It’s pretty hands-off at that point!
Why Use Nuts in a Vegetarian Loaf?
Nuts offer a great texture and heartiness to this loaf, without using breadcrumbs or lentils. (I already use lentils in my Vegan Meatloaf, if you need an egg-free or dairy-free recipe.) Avoiding breadcrumbs and flour keeps this recipe naturally gluten-free!
Benefits of Walnuts & Pecans
This recipe uses a combination of walnuts and pecans, both of which are buttery nuts that will break down quickly and easily in a food processor. (Or you can chop them with a knife, if you prefer.)
Here’s what I love about these nuts:
- Walnuts have high antioxidant activity, along with antibacterial and anticancer activities.
- One study suggests that eating a meal rich in walnuts may help to prevent the oxidative damage of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol). Another study suggests that pecans do this, as well.
- Walnuts are high in omega-3 acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is an essential fat and may help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Pecans are also high in antioxidants, and have over twice the flavonoid content when compared to almonds and cashews, according to Health.com.
- Pecans are a good source of manganese, which may help to regulate your blood sugar. It also helps to form collagen, which is can contribute to skin elasticity.
These two varieties of nuts are just a suggestion, so feel free to swap them for another option in your pantry, if you need to. Or, you can use all walnuts, or all pecans, in this recipe, if you only have one variety on hand.
Nut Roast (Vegetarian Main Course)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 1 pound mushrooms (I used a mix of cremini and shiitake)
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 3/4 cup walnut halves
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1 cup pre-cooked brown rice
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF and line a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. (I like to spray the pan with a bit of oil first, to help the parchment stay in place.) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and saute the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- While the onion is cooking, quickly process the mushrooms in a food processor fitted with an "S" blade to break them down into an almost rice-like texture. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the onion in the skillet, and saute until the liquid from the mushrooms evaporates, about 8 more minutes.
- While everything is cooking, pulse the walnuts and pecans in the food processor (no need to rinse it after chopping the mushrooms) until they resemble a coarse flour.
- Transfer the ground nuts to a large bowl, along with the cooked brown rice, parmesan, eggs, parsly, thyme, salt, and 5-6 grinds of fresh black pepper. Add in the cooked mushroom mixture, and stir well to combine.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared loaf pan, and use a spatula to smooth the top. Cook the loaf at 375ºF until the top is golden and firm, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the loaf from the pan, then slice and serve.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. The leftover loaf makes a great stuffing/filling for roasted squash, if you want to repurpose the dish!
- If you need a dairy-free loaf, you can try swapping the Parmesan for 3/4 cup bread crumbs instead to help with binding. In that case, I’d season the mixture with at least 1/4 teaspoon more salt to compensate.
- For a vegan recipe, try my Vegan Meatloaf instead. Or my Stuffed Kabocha Squash for another vegan main-entree!
If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how you like it. And if you make any modifications, I’d love to hear about those, too! We can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: Have you ever tried a nut loaf before? This is totally NOT something my husband would usually eat, but he tried this and told me he loves it! So I hope it’s a hit with your holiday guests, too.