From For the Love of Food, Denis Cotter, Collins, 2011.
I guess nut loaves were fashionable in the 70s and became associated with vegetarians and soon got a bad name because they were often not overly tasty. So I hesitated before I made this one but I usually enjoy Denis Cotter’s recipes so thought it was worth a try.
There were basically three parts to it: the cashew nut base, the pumpkin filler and the sauce.
The base was made with 500g roasted cashews blitzed until fine. This was mixed with a cooked parsnip that had been mashed. Into this also went a white onion sautéed with 3 garlic cloves, two chopped celery sticks, a little ground sage, some fresh thyme leaves, a teaspoon ground cumin and a good pinch of cayenne pepper. When they had softened, 100ml white wine was added and brought to the boil. This all then went into the cashew mix. The mixture was stirred together and breadcrumbs added with salt and pepper. It became quite a firm but moist mixture. A beaten egg was added and stirred in. The basic mixture was ready.
The filling was made by roasting 200g butternut pumpkin. A chopped leek was fried until softened in a little olive oil. Now some grated ginger, zest and juice of half a lemon was added with the roasted pumpkin. These were stirred for a couple of minutes to make the pumpkin break up into a mash with the leek. Some breadcrumbs were added to thicken it all a little.
Now the loaf could be put together. In a loaf tin lined with baking paper half of the cashew mix was pressed in. The pumpkin mixture went over this and was then covered with the remainder of the cashew mix. It went into a 170ºC oven for about an hour.
The sauce was made by sautéing a chopped red onion, half a red capsicum, a chopped celery stick, 4 garlic cloves, a chopped red chilli and a chopped chipotle chilli. After about 10 minutes when they had softened, 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, 2 teaspoons ground cumin and ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon ground allspice went into the pan for a minute or two more. A can of tomatoes and 1 tablespoon tomato puree were added with 200ml red wine and 500ml vegetable stock. They were simmered for about an hour then passed through a sieve. At serving time 25g dark chocolate and 40g butter were added. This made a richly flavoured, Mexican style mole, though far too much sauce for the loaf. I used some later to add some flavour to a leek and chickpea soup.
The loaf was sliced and served with the sauce. It was, of course, nutty and a little heavy though the sauce tended to lighten it somewhat. I especially enjoyed the sweet pumpkin filling. It was the sauce that made the loaf. It was rich in an overlay of various tastes, spicy, smoky, chilli heat though the chocolate seemed to have disappeared into it. Perhaps I would up the quantity a little next time.
Ease of cooking: ✔✔