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Mushroom Loaf with Tomato Salsa

I adore the smell of mushrooms frying away, especially with garlic. A vegetarian loaf packed with mushrooms and nuts is a fantastic dish to have in the repertoire for either a vegetarian meal or as an addition to a banquet to satisfy all.

"I was inspired by a nut loaf cooked several times for us by friends in London [Daniel Merriott]. This is a great alternative to cooking the loaf with meat, it holds together well with any variety of nut you wish to use, and looks impresssive on the plate. The salsa is a must to offset the earthy richness of the loaf with a tangy lightness." -  Louise Baker.

Pictured: Mushroom Loaf

1 large onion, diced
300g (10 ½ oz) mushroom mix, diced – cup, button, field, swiss brown, chestnut etc
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
430g (15 oz) mix of pine nuts, cashews,  almonds – processed or chopped until just finely chopped
125g (4 ½ oz/1 cup) grated cheddar
25g (3/4 oz/ ¼ cup) parmesan, grated - can add a little more for extra bite
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 tbsp chives, chopped

80g (2 ¾ oz/1 cup) fresh breadcrumbs, white or wholemeal
Extra chives and parsley to garnish
Tomato Salsa – 1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic, crushed
400g (14oz) tinned diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
with a pinch sugar to caramelise and flavour
1/3 cup (80mls/2 ½ fl oz) water

Grease and line the base of a 14 x 21cm loaf tin. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas4.

Heat oil in a large fry pan – add onion, garlic, and mushrooms and cook til the mixture softens - I like to start it all off gently as it sfotens then turn the heat up at the end to brown the mushrooms a little for that extra flavour. Let cool to room temperature – you can prepare this in advance and keep covered in fridge til needed.

Combine mushroom mixture, nuts, cheeses, egg, chives and breadcrumbs in a large bowl, mixing til combined, and season with salt and pepper. Two eggs should be more than enough, if they are small however or the mixture feels too dry you may want to add another beaten egg - the mix is not meant to be too wet though.

Press the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and bake 45 minutes til firm. Leave for 5 minutes before turning out.

While the loaf is cooking make the tomato salsa – heat a fry pan to medium heat, add oil and onion and garlic – cook 5 minutes til translucent. Stir in tomatoes, paste and sugar. Add water, then simmer 5 minutes til sauce thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve slices of mushroom loaf with the tomato salsa and garnished with extra chives and parsley.

Serves 6

Pictured: Mushrooms