This chargrilled capsicum and eggplant terrine is a stunning vegan Christmas dish which can take pride of place either instead of or alongside the more traditional dishes.
For so many years now, Christmas has been all about salads and new potatoes for me. My family are entirely vegetarian-friendly and respectful of my dietary choices, but for them and so many others, Christmas means ham and turkey. And new potatoes. Dad gets up early and digs them fresh from the garden on Christmas morning, a tradition that's been going as long as I can remember. And of course it's summer here so salads go with the territory. It really is hard to make salad feel like a celebration meal though, you know what I mean? And let me tell you, I've tried!
I've made English style nut loaf or nut roast before, which I love and everyone else begrudgingly samples (and I have to say they always enjoy it more than they think they will). Nut loaf feels like a bit of a veg*n cliche at times though, so I'm always trying to think of alternatives that are a little something special, delicious of course, and appropriate to serve on a day that could be scorching hot (or just as often, pouring with rain).
This terrine is a great option. It takes a little time and forethought, but there's nothing hard about it and it looks stunning on a platter. All the work is done the day before so you can simply pull it out of the fridge at serving time and you're good to go.
The cashews need to be soaked overnight or for at least six hours. I put mine in to soak first thing in the morning, then continued with the rest of the recipe that afternoon. I began by very quickly blanching ribbons of zucchini and using them to line a loaf tin. Chargrilled capsicums and eggplant are then layered with a thick basil and cashew cream, the zucchini ribbons are folded back over and the terrine goes in the fridge to set overnight.
Really, this is so easy to do and involves very little actual cooking.
The resulting terrine is a little like a savoury cheesecake, with the familiar flavours of garlic and basil helping draw out the flavours of the capsicum and eggplant. It's super lovely, perfect served in thick slices alongside salads and new potatoes, and I'm sure the ham and turkey crowd would find it a welcome contrast to the rest of their plate too.
You'll need a high speed blender or food processor for this recipe.
- 2 small or 1 large eggplant (aubergine)
- 2-4 tablespoon olive oil or spray oil
- 2-3 zucchini courgettes
- 2 in chargrilled capsicums (red peppers - I used the kind that come a jar, or you can chargrill your own)
- 2 cups raw cashews soaked overnight or for at least six hours
- 4 tablespoon coconut oil melted if solid
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 200C.
- Slice eggplant lengthways into slices roughly 1 cm thick, maybe a little less. Arrange slices on a baking tray, brush or spray with olive oil and season well.
- Bake or grill for 5-10 minutes on each side, or until cooked and golden brown. Be careful not to overcook as you want the slices to hold together.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- While the eggplant is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to shave your zucchini into ribbons. I did one side until I reached the seeds, then flipped it around and did the other side.
- Drop zucchini ribbons into boiling water for about 10 seconds, then immediately tip into a colander and run under the cold tap.
- Remove zucchini ribbons and dry them off with paper towels. This may seem a little unnecessary, but you really want to eliminate any excess moisture to ensure your terrine holds together well and isn't soggy.
- Line a loaf tin with cling film, then methodically line the tin with your zucchini ribbons. You can do them on an offset angle like I did, or in straight lines. Whatever you fancy is fine, just make sure each ribbon slightly overlaps the last and you leave 5-6 cm hanging over the edges of the tin. I also put a ribbon down the middle of the base of mine in case there were any gaps where the two sides met.
- Put soaked cashews, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, water, garlic, basil, salt and pepper into a high speed blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides as required. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
- Spoon 3-4 tablespoon of cashew mixture into the bottom of your lined loaf tin and use a spatula to spread thinly and evenly.
- Trim eggplant slices and arrange in a neat layer. You'll probably have to jigsaw them a bit to fit.
- Spoon more cashew mixture over the eggplant and spread thinly and evenly, being careful to fill any gaps.
- Open chargrilled capsicums out flat, trim and arrange in a neat layer.
- Spoon more cashew mixture over the capsicums and spread thinly and evenly, being careful to fill any gaps.
- Repeat these steps until you've used up what you've got - finishing with a layer of cashew cream. I managed two eggplant and two capsicum layers.
- Fold in the ends of the zucchini ribbons to enclose the terrine filling. Bring in the sides of the cling film to firmly seal everything, then refrigerate overnight to set.
- To serve, open the cling film and carefully invert the terrine onto a board or serving platter. If your knife skills are up to it you could decorate the platter with some retro tomato flowers.
- Serve straight from (or very recently from) the fridge as the terrine will soften at room temperature or in the sun.