Great British Chefs, blogger Monica Shaw is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for her American expat friends. She’s vegetarian. A number of her friends aren’t. What to cook? Will she resort to a nutroast?
This year, for the first time ever, I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner for my American expat friends living here in the UK. Knowing I’m a vegetarian, one of the first questions they eagerly asked was: “will there be nutroast?!”
The question is a testament to how “British” we’ve become during our time here. After all, nutroast is a very British thing, and I can’t think of a similar dish in the States that holds the same iconic status as a standard vegetarian holiday main course. This often leaves us in a bit of a jumble. I had a look at what some of the popular American food publications suggest as vegetarian mains. Bon Appetit is pushing its Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding; Food and Wine suggests Minestrone Pot Pies, Moussaka and Quinoa-Stuffed Squash; Saveur, meanwhile, has gone multicultural with such ideas as Saag Paneer, Manicotti and Pumpkin Curry.
They all sound like well and good vegetarian recipes, but none of it screams Thanksgiving to me. Which brings me back to the nutroast question. I’ve always found the idea of a loaf based on nuts kind of weird - do I really want to eat a slab of nuts for my Thanksgiving dinner?
The thing is, I think I do
It’s not so much the nutroast I love. After all, most British people seem to associate the concept with disappointment and derision. But I love the idea of nut roast. After all, we vegetarians don’t have Turkey, but it would be nice to have something that we can rely on at the holidays, be it Thanksgiving or Christmas. And the nutroast can be all that and more: it’s a super chance to congeal all of the stuff we’ve come to love about seasonal British produce into a single loaf tin. And when the nutroast makes use of quality ingredients, is seasoned well, and comes with all the trimmings, you can actually achieve something has both great taste and irresistible kitsch appeal.
I’m starting to see Thanksgiving in Britain as both an homage to the things I miss back home and a celebration of the things I love about Britain. So this Thanksgiving, yes I am making a nutroast, along with some of my other favourite British-grown discoveries like crown prince squash, wild mushrooms and cavolo nero. I might even bust out the celeriac.
Alongside this will be a few nods to my American tradition with a few family recipes, including cranberry chutney and pumpkin pie.
If you’re looking for a few vegetarian Thanksgiving recipe ideas, here are the ones that have inspired my own Thanksgiving menu this year:
Look out from more pumpkin recipes on Great British Chefs. Which vegetarian dishes would make for a good Thanksgiving dinner or a celebration roast dinner?