Sunday roast, the meat-free way


There are some who say that, when it comes to the best options for a Sunday lunch, there's nothing that can match the sheer majesty of a sizzling joint of meat. But it's fair to suggest that vegetarians aren't among them. And, this Sunday, I had vegetarians coming to lunch.
Searching for ‘vegetarian' on led me to the impressive-looking Moroccan Vegetable Nut Roast. That's a recipe title that doesn't mess about. No trace of the ‘Moroccan Roast Surprise' approach going on there. It's Moroccan (the presence of typical north African flavours such as cinnamon, coriander and paprika make that case very convincingly). It's Vegetable. No argument there - a serving of this more than carries its weight in the five-a-day stakes and, frankly, any recipe that calls for 10 shallots (kind of an uber onion - milder and sweeter in flavour) is a good thing in my book. They're just coming to the end of their season now, so make the most of them while you can. It's Nut. OK, so maybe they're a comparatively small part of the deal (and as a result the end result is quite loose - nothing like the firm, sliceable nut roasts that were one of the default options for vegetarian cookery back in the 1970s), but they still give the texture lovely bite. Roast. Hmm. There are some who say that, just because a dish goes in the oven, it doesn't necessarily make it a roast. They would probably be the same people who say that, just because a person has slipped into a set of chefs' whites, it doesn't mean they're Gordon Ramsay - and they might have a point. But, hey, let's not quibble over semantics. And three out of four ain't bad.
The finish of my filo pastry didn't turn out quite as plumply smooth as the one in the picture. As a result of my less than nimble layering, it was as crinkled and ill-fitting as the girly pink prom dress in which Gwyneth Paltrow tearfully accepted her 1999 Oscar. Nor was it topped with an elegant Carrie Bradshaw-like filo pastry corsage - more something approaching an edible Vicky Pollard-esque scrunchie. But my friends not only ate it, they gave every indication that they really enjoyed it. Gratifyingly, not one of them called out for pizza, which is my usual test of guest satisfaction. Try eating this dish with a crisp green salad, and a virtuous, non-meat-eating air. Or, if you've got a favourite veggie Sunday lunch favourite, get in touch - we want to know about it!

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