Meatloaf. I didn’t grow up eating meatloaf; Meat eating involved hamburgers, chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, Thanksgiving turkey, bacon and on occasion, a rack of lamb (when I was invited to Easter dinner at the house of my catholic school friend.) During this Whole30-like program I am participating in with members of my box, people have been posting pictures of meatloaf they have made. I was intrigued: meatloaf was a great way to make multiple meals – for a classic American dinner with potatoes and veg or in a sandwich. So I looked up what the essential components to a meatloaf entail. They are: ground meat, binders and flavorings.
Well as a vegetarian, two out of three ain’t bad.
Unfortunately, during my challenge, I shouldn’t eat the legumes and grains and that replaced the meat in every vegetarian meatloaf recipe I found. That really got me thinking about meat substitutes and lead me to the creation of a protein rich, gluten-free, legume-free, grain-free meatless meatloaf that is perfect for my whole30/paleo ovo-vegetarian challenge friendly (Wow, I am becoming more Californian than I thought using that many labels to describe my food requirements).
What does it contain? Three essential ingredients for flavor and protein: Mushrooms, nuts, and sunflower seeds. I used a cremini mushrooms (but oyster, girolle, porchino, morel and others would work). Mushrooms can be expensive, so I chose cremini as it is a nice flavorful yet not as expensive mushroom. I do not recommend rehydrated mushrooms for this dish as it would change the texture. For nuts, I chose almond and walnut, but pecans and brazil nuts could work as well.
It is moist, firm, flavorful – everything I am told a meatloaf should be (by my husband who has eaten meatloaf). It has texture from the sunflower seeds and nuts which also provide protein. It holds together quite nicely from the gluten-free arrowroot starch and egg. I also added some veg, because, well why not?
It’s faux-meatloaf. Why hold out? I decided to go all the way. I needed mashed potatoes and veg for sides. I’ve made mashed cauliflower and root veg many times, but using heavy cream or milk and butter. They add the richness to both real and faux mashed potato which I replaced with fatty canned coconut milk. Coconut milk surprisingly does not have much flavor. It can be used for sweet or savory and can lend its rich creamy quality to dishes that you would never add coconut to. Rather than just add a lot of salt, I infused flavors using an herb and spice medley – I tied a bunch of herbs, fresh and dry, in a reusable cheesecloth.
I placed the cheesecloth bundle into a pot with the root veg (parsnip, turnips) and some home made veggie stock .
Once all the veg had been cooked and much of the stock had cooked off, I removed the cheesecloth (which can be washed and reused), added coconut milk and blended.
No meatloaf is complete without sauce and veg.
I read that meatloaf is typically eaten with a ketchup-like sauce. I wasn’t feeling like ketchup- and honestly pictures with ketchup did not look appetizing. So I made a simple gluten-free dairy-free mushroom gravy , thickened with arrowroot powder, using a mixture of mushrooms that included cremini and baby bellas. I tossed some quartered brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper and baked them in the oven at 350 degrees F for 45 min and crisped them at 400 degrees F for another 10 min. Separately, I also sauteed some thinly sliced shallots and garlic in ghee and wilted baby spinach in a pan at medium heat and seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne.
What an incredibly satisfying meal. I also used the meatloaf in a sandwich – using avocado mayo for a condiment and lettuce leaves as bread. I will make a gluten-free, dairy-free, legume-free, grain-free vegetarian shepherds pie with the left over mashed veg. Stay tuned.
- 2 Tbs ghee
- 2.5 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, shredded
- 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup vegetable stock (or 1 veg bouillon cube in one cup of water)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped into a coarse chunky powder (use a food processor or dry blade vitamix)
- 1 cup almonds, chopped into a coarse chunky powder (use a food processor or dry blade vitamix)
- 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds (roasted is fine, just no salt)
- 2 eggs beaten (or flax or other egg replacer)
- 1 Tbs coconut aminos
- 1 tsp thyme, chopped (fresh or dry)
- 1 tsp rosemary, chopped (fresh or dry)
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1/2 cup arrowroot powder
- salt to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Add ghee to a large saute pan (or pot, dutch oven to hold a large volume). Saute onion until translucent and slightly golden – about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, and let cook down, stirring occaisonally for about 5 minutes, then add carrot and zucchini and stock. Cook uncovered with occasionally stirring until veg and mushrooms fully cooked and liquid has cooked off – about 10 min.
Place cooked veg into a bowl and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together almonds, walnuts, herbs, sunflower seeds and arrowroot powder in a separate bowl. Add coconut aminos to the egg, beat together and then add to veg and mix thoroughly. Add dry ingredients to veg and thoroughly incorporate. I suggest using your hands. Salt to taste.
The meatloaf can be formed by hand and baked on a tray. Otherwise, grease a baking dish with ghee and press in the mixture.
Bake for 20-30 min until lightly crusty on top. Let cool for 20-30 min. If using a dish, run a knife along the edge of the dish and invert.
Creamy Mashed Root Veg and Cauliflower
- 1 Tbs ghee
- 2 turnips, cubed
- 1 parsnip, cubed
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 2 cups veggie stock (or 1 cube bouillion with 2 cups water)
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 4 black peppercorns
- 1/3 cup coconut milk from a can (not coconut beverage)
- 2 Tbs arrowroot powder
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pot to medium heat, add ghee and onion and saute until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, place herbs and peppercorn into a cheesecloth and tie the cheese cloth. Add turnip, parsnip, cheesecloth bundle and stock – cover to bring to a boil, then rude heat to a simmer, cover, stirring occasionally for 15 min, then uncover and cook for 15 min. Add cauliflower and garlic, stir, cover and cook for an additional 5-7 min . Uncover and continue to cook with occasional stirring until cauliflower is soft and liquid has mostly evaporated.
Puree with coconut milk using a hand blender, or allow veg to cook and place into a food processor and blend with coconut milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the mash is too runny, stir in arrowroot powder – mixing in 1 tablespoon as a time – do not add too much or the texture will be gummy and doughy. 2 Tbs is usually enough.
Garnish with chives.
- 2 Tbs ghee
- 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 pound (about 4 cups) of mushrooms (cremini, baby bellas, etc), chopped
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 Tbs arrowroot powder
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or 2 cubes bouillon with 4 cups water)
- 1Tbs coconut aminos
Over medium heat, add ghee and onion to a saucepan and cook until translucent (about 5 min). Add garlic and saute for a min before adding in mushrooms and salt, thoroughly stirring to mix. cook down for about 10 min stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot powder and cooconut aminos into stock until incorporated and once mushrooms are cooked, add to mushrooms and stir. Reduce heat to medium and continue to stir until glossy and sauce starts to thicken. Take off heat. Blend and add salt and pepper to taste.