meatless meatloaf - show #107

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Wonderful Walnut-Mushroom Loaf

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This delectable loaf is crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and bursting with flavor. Paired with Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower and Sesame Greens Beans, it makes for a traditional American-style meal that even meat lovers will enjoy.


2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

1 large bermuda onion, chopped

8 to 10 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari

2 1/4 cups walnuts

1/2 cup unsalted roasted sunflower seeds

2 1/2 cups fresh whole-grain breadcrumbs

1 cup shredded vegan cheese

Zest from 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups jarred marinara sauce


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

            Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add 5 to 6 ounces of the chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, brown sugar, and tamari. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden around the edges and the pan juices have evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes, adding more oil or a bit of water as needed to prevent sticking.

            Meanwhile, put the walnuts in a food processor and process until coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl. Put the sunflower seeds in the food processor and process until coarsely ground. Add the sunflower seeds to the walnuts, along with the onion mixture, breadcrumbs, vegan cheese, zest, italian seasoning, and salt. Stir until thoroughly combined.

            Stir 1 teaspoon of the remaining oil into 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture in the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking pan. Working with one-third of the mushroom mixture at a time, mold it by hand into a large ball, compressing it to release the oils in the walnuts and help hold the loaf together. Put the balls in the baking pan side by side and form them into a single compact loaf, patting it down and smoothing the top.

            Scatter the remaining mushrooms around the loaf. Spoon 2/3 cup of the remaining marinara sauce over the mushrooms. Spoon the remaining 1/3 cup of marinara sauce over the top of the loaf, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.

            Cover with foil and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is almost firm to the touch.

            Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes to firm up. Carefully remove the loaf onto a serving platter. 

To make a quick gravy, put 1 cup of water in a small saucepan, and heat to a simmer. Add the simmering water, 1/4 cup at a time, to the loaf pan, loosening up the leftover bits of mushrooms and tomato sauce with a spoon as you go. Add more water as needed, a 1/4 cup at a time, until the desired "gravy" consistency is reached. 

Cut the loaf into generous slices. Serve warm,with some of the mushroom sauce spooned over each serving.  Put the remaining mushroom sauce in a gravy boat or small bowl to pass at the table.


Mashed Potatoes and Cauliflower

Makes 4 to 5 servings

Here I’ve jazzed up mashed potatoes with cauliflower, giving the dish a boost in nutrients, especially vitamin C, while also making it lower in calories. Because cauliflower has a mellow flavor and creamy texture, the result is much like the traditional version of the ever-popular side dish. Although the potatoes are sharing the stage, they still play an important role, holding everything together after mashing. 

1 head cauliflower, coarsely chopped

2 medium white potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon vegan margarine, plus more as needed

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish

 Steam the cauliflower and potatoes until soft but not mushy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the nondairy milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming hot but not boiling.

            Transfer the cauliflower and potatoes to a medium bowl and add the nondairy milk, margarine, and salt. Mash with a potato masher until smooth and lump-free, adding more nondairy milk or margarine as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired.


Sesame Green Beans

Makes 4 to 5 servings

When green beans are in season at my local farmers’ market, I like to feature them as a simple side dish, accented with gomasio, which adds unusual dimensions of texture and flavor to the beans. But if you don’t have any on hand, you can substitute sesame seeds. Because gomasio contains salt, seasoning with salt is optional here, and you should definitely taste before adding it.

1 pound green beans, trimmed

2 teaspoons vegan margarine

1 to 2 teaspoons gomasio (see note) or sesame seeds

Sea salt (optional)

Freshly ground pepper

Steam the green beans until crisp-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the margarine. Season with the gomasio to taste. Toss gently until the green beans are evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Note: Gomasio is a condiment made from ground roasted sesame seeds and salt, and sometimes sea vegetables or other ingredients. For an additional flavor note, try seaweed gomasio in this dish.