Saturday, May 05, 2018

Vegetarian Nut Loaf

I’m still in a pattern where my dinner on Monday nights needs to be made ahead of time. I recommend this mushroom, kale, and cheddar frittata (that I served with sorghum-glazed carrots) or this pork tajine. A meatloaf would also be a good idea, but I’m still trying to perfect my recipe. Today’s vegetarian loaf, though, is ready to share!

See, I had bought some cashews to make another vegan alfredo pasta, which was good, but then I had leftover nuts to use. So I decided to be a bit more ambitious and make a vegetarian nut loaf. It turned out to be rich and hearty, full of umami, and really satisfying. For some reason, I didn’t have any onions (poor inventory keeping on my part, I guess!), so I actually had to do without, but it came out fine anyway! You can adjust the herbs to your liking, too. This was delicious! I’d call it Commensal-worthy.

Note that using the food processor for prep saves a lot of time (I recommend starting by shredding the cheese, then switching to the S-blade for the nuts and mushrooms), and most of the prep work can even be done ahead of time. This loaf reheats beautifully and makes lots of leftovers. I served it with roasted sweet potatoes, but it would work well with a green salad, too. And if you happen to have some mushroom gravy, it would be divine!

1 onion, medium chopped
1 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or oil
2 cups finely-chopped mushrooms (See Recipe Note)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. dried sage
red wine or sherry
2 cups cooked brown rice (I cooked up 1 cup of dry rice)
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
1 cup cashews or almonds, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
5 eggs
1 cup lactose-free cottage cheese
¾ lb. grated lactose-free cheese: parmesan, grana padano, gruyere, cheddar, or any combination
½ cup mixed fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, oregano, and thyme
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Sauté the onion in oil or butter until it begins to soften. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms release their juices and become soft. Add the garlic and dried herbs, and continue to cook. When the pan begins to dry out again, add a good splash of red wine or sherry and cook until it is reduced. The contents should be moist but not swimming in liquid. Remove from the heat and let cool a little.

While the mushroom mixture cools, grease a 9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper or foil.
In a large bowl, toss the brown rice and nuts together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the cottage cheese. Add the egg mixture to the rice/nut mixture, then stir in the cooled mushrooms, grated cheese and fresh herbs. Mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust. (If you're worried about the raw egg, you can fry up a little patty to taste, but my eggs were pasteurized. You can also keep the mixture in the refrigerator at this point for up to 24 hours.)

Fill the loaf pan with the nut mixture, rap a few times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles and smooth the top with a spatula. Decorate with slices of mushrooms or whole walnuts if desired. Place loaf pan on a baking tray. Bake for about an hour or until the loaf is firm (slightly longer if the mixture was refrigerated). Remove from the oven. Rest on a cooling rack for ten minutes, then lift the loaf from the pan using the excess parchment paper or foil. Peel off the parchment or foil and serve on a platter, garnished with fresh herbs.

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