Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mushroom Lentil Loaf

I wanted to try my hand at a veggie "meat" loaf... I do love a hearty loaf, and I love the leftovers on a sandwich. I ran across this recipe, and since I love mushrooms, too, I started there. (Vegan dishes need that umami for deeper flavor, and I figured this one would be loaded with it.)

Of course I substituted the eggs for vegan chia "eggs," and the parmesan for "parmezano sprinkles," which I make up in large batches (I use raw cashews, however). Still, I found that while this loaf came out of the oven in loaf form and had great flavor, it was much too crumbly and fell apart. I made some adjustments, and came up with the following recipe - which includes cooked lentils, breadcrumb, and lots of (chia) binder to hold the whole thing together. I also squeezed out the mushrooms and the green veggies after cooking - the veggies stay juicy but don't add extra water). I was really happy with the results.

I recommend doing some of this ahead of time to ease the prep - the peppers can be roasted the day before, and the mushrooms cooked down and refrigerated. I also use my food processor on "pulse" to do all the chopping. I do them all separately, and add them to the mixing bowl as I go.

 Mushroom Lentil Loaf

  • 32 oz. white mushrooms, cleaned, chopped semi-fine
  • 3/4 cup nuts (cashews or walnuts work the best) pulsed small but not too fine
  • 2 blackened green peppers, peeled, patted dry and chopped semi-fine  (see link for prep - I use a plastic bag to steam them before rinsing and peeling)
  • About 1 1/2 cups green beans, asparagus, cooked down spinach, or any combination thereof, squeezed in a clean tea towel after cooling and pulsed semi-fine - I use frozen veggies and just microwave them
  • Binder - about 1/2 cup chia or flax powder, added to 2 cups water, whisked, and refrigerated for 15 minutes or more (this is your "egg")
  • About 1-2 cups cooked lentils - I followed the instructions and cooked a whole bag, putting the leftovers in the fridge - I'll tell you what I did with the leftovers later
  • About 1/4 cup Parmezano Sprinkles
  • Seasoning to taste - you can taste a vegan meatloaf mix as you go! I added salt and pepper, cumin, thyme, marjoram, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and dry mustard (about a 1/2 teaspoon of each)
  • 2 Tblesp. BBQ sauce
  • 2 Tblesp. ketchup
  • About 1-2 cups panko breadcrumb, seasoned or otherwise
  • About 1 cup ketchup
  • about 1 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
  • about 1/2 cup brown sugar

So after you've given everything a good squeeze in a clean tea towel, pulsed it into the food processor and combined it, it's time to use your noodle. It's a "feel" thing. I leave the breadcrumb until last - then I add it until I feel the mixture is pasty, with enough body to be a little on the stiffer side. Your mixture shouldn't be soupy, and it shouldn't be so dry that you can construct a massive Devil's Tower out of it. Clear enough? You can mess quite a bit with the proportions, but try to make sure that the base is still mostly mushroom mix. This is what keeps it juicy, and less like a dense loaf of bread with ketchup on it, and more like an entrée.

I like to line my pan with aluminum foil, with some sticking out the sides to form handles to pull it out with after it has cooled. Then I spray the lining with nonstick spray.

Mix the topping in a separate bowl, and glaze that sucker. Next time I make this, I'm thinking of doing it in individual muffin tins, just to increase the surface area that will accept glaze. It's all about the glaze.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about an hour. If the top gets too brown, cover with more foil (mine doesn't). Shown here with purple cabbage...

Let it cool just a bit, then lift out with your foil handles, and unwrap fully.


I like to put more ketchup on mine, because that's just how I do.

Great the next day, with, or course, more ketchup on a sandwich. Stay tuned for leftover lentil ideas.

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