Un-Meat Loaf

This week has been cold and wet and scary – and certainly not dull!  In case you’re not busy spending every waking moment following Pennsylvania’s weather, here’s some of what you missed:

This was the park where I spent much of my summer reading under the trees. The river reached it's highest flood point Saturday morning, and now all we can do is wait for the water to recede to begin clean-up.

There was damage at school when most of the campus was submerged (in some places under feet of water). The clean-up effort is on-going.

(Pictured: Parking lot clean-up effort) Some of the commuters were less than thrilled to watch their cars be swept away from the lot into the flooded stream or else completely submerged. I lost my car on my way home in the storm too, but because it was a POS - not flood related.

So, as a direct result, I don’t really have the time or energy to be super creative in the kitchen this week.  The recipes I’ll be posting will all have come from the brilliant minds of others.

After a week of constantly being chilled by wet socks and dripping hair, I was desperate to find a warming comfort food for this weekend.  Last night I found it over at veganchef.com.  I’ve tried some of her recipes before without success, but the idea of a Greens and Grains version of meatloaf (an American childhood comfort-food classic) sounded so inviting, I just had to give it a try!  I was so happy with how it came out, and I can’t believe how well the thing holds together without any egg or breadcrumbs!  Of course, I couldn’t leave well-enough alone, so I did make a few minor changes.

This dish is almost a one-pot wonder (technically, it’s one pot and one baking pan), and it’s super easy.  It’s also very market friendly, in that you can add/replace any veggies you can find.  Serve it with some cheddary nutritional yeast on top along-side a big dollop of ketchup, and you’ll feel the warming love that only a speckled loaf can provide! Ok, maybe I’ve been living in a German-heritage area for too long, but it’s still delicious! 😉

Greens and Grains Loaf:

"Loaf" is a funny word...

Equipment:

  • Knife, peeler, cutting board, large deep heavy-bottomed skillet with lid (I use enameled cast iron and it worked perfectly), bread pan or similar loaf-shaped baking dish, wooden spoon, a heavy soup spoon, paper towel, range

Ingredients:

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small red pepper (or half a large one), diced
  • 1 small white/yellow/orange pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 lb of green beans, trimmed and cut into small rounds
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 1/2 celery heart with leaves, diced
  • 1/3 cup dried quinoa
  • 1/3 cup dried white rice
  • 1/3 cup dried millet
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower (or other neutral) oil
  • Possible toppings: nutritional yeast, ketchup, your favorite gravy, Magic Sauce

Directions:

  1. Prep all of your veggies.  Over medium heat, melt a medium scoop of coconut oil in the skillet.  Saute the diced onion 2 mins, or until it’s tender and lightly browned.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  2. Add all of the other veggies – the peppers, carrots, celery, squash, green beans and whatever else you’ve got.  Cook 3-5 mins or until the veggies are starting to soften.  Add a generous pinch or two of salt and a nice hit of ground black pepper.
  3. Add the herbs to taste.  You’ll find you won’t need a whole lot since the veggies are already pretty aromatic, and if your herbs are fresh, they’ll compliment what’s already going on very well.  You don’t have to chop up the oregano and basil, just tearing up a few leaves and throwing it in is fine.  As a general guide, I tend to use the ratio 3:2:1 for the amount of basil:lemon thyme:oregano, but adjust it to your tastes.  So when you stand over the pan, the smell makes you salivate and gives you that “Oh this is gonna be good” visceral reaction.
  4. Stir in the quinoa, millet, and rice.  Cook about 1 min to make sure the grains are coated in the delicious veggie and herb juices.  Pour in the vegetable stock.  Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and let simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are very tender, about 25-35 mins.  You are going to slightly over-cook the grains, because the “rice glue” will help the loaf keep its shape.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Grease the loaf pan with the sunflower or other neutral oil.
  6. When the grains are done and all of the liquid has been absorbed, remove from the heat and stir in the chopped parsley.  Taste test, and adjust seasonings as needed.  Carefully spoon 1/3 of the mixture into the loaf pan, and press the veggies and grains firmly into the pan with the back of your spoon, making sure it gets tightly packed.  Repeat until all of the veggies and grains have been transferred over.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 mins, or until the top is golden brown and the loaf is firm to the touch.  Let the loaf sit 5-10 mins before running a knife along the edges.  Flip the loaf out onto whatever serving dish you want to use.  Slice carefully and serve with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and your favorite gravy or ketchup.
  8. ENJOY!!
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