Vegan Garden Loaf with Maple Apricot Glaze

Gluten free veggie loaf that is deliciously vegan and soy free
Delicious vegan garden loaf with quinoa.

Go ahead and snicker. I'll wait. I'm fully aware that veggie loaves are the punch line for many a joke in Burger King sponsored sit-coms and pseudo-reality shows pitting sweaty cranky chefs against each other for the promise of fame and fortune. So do your thing. Snort. Sigh. Bare your teeth. I can handle it. 

Vegetarians and vegans endure more than their fair share of indiscreet eye-rolling.

I know this first hand. Because I've been a vegetarian and sometimes vegan for most of my life. Four decades. And after my medically recommended foray back into Omnivore Land (to jump start the healing of my broken hip) now that I am vertical and ambulatory without a cane I am once again whistling past the graveyard into familiar territory, leaving behind the protein I flirted with, listening to my body's need to get back to the garden, back to my first love, my culinary Eden. My natural preference, before The Fall.

I tell you this without judgment. 

I mention this without pressure of any kind. Seriously. I'm not proselytizing. Goddess knows, I understand better than most how hard it is to eat in this gluten infused world of ours without whittling down our choices even further. If you love your bacon and eggs, Babycakes, go rustle up some grub.

Gnaw on some haggis.

I'll just be over here in my tiny little kitchen, if you don't mind, cooking up quinoa and millet and roasting bananas or peaches instead of ribs. Maybe some garlic and grape tomatoes instead of chicken. I'll be dreaming up a vegan version of my Italian Meatballs and creamy cheesy herb sauce to dress up my gluten-free pizza dough. Not to mention, more sweet little vegan cupcakes in a rainbow of flavors. Scones. Cobblers. More dairy-free ice cream. I'll be whipping up fruit smoothies in my Vita-Mix. Because when I eat this way, I feel better. I feel lighter. And more creative.

So if you're still with me, and you haven't hit your back button, stick around. You might see something you like.

Vegan garden loaf that is gluten and wheat free
A slice of vegan garden loaf with sweet potato salad.

Vegan Garden Loaf Recipe with Maple Apricot Glaze

My idea of comfort food. This recipe is based on a veggie loaf recipe from my pre-celiac cookbook, Recipes From a Vegetarian Goddess. In the original version I used a combo of ground nuts and brown rice with greens. Since my multiple food allergies surfaced I haven't attempted to recreate the recipe. Until now. This new version is vegan, nut-free, soy-free, and rice-free. And I may be slightly biased, but I think this latest incarnation is my favorite so far. You have to plan ahead a little bit- you'll need to bake a sweet potato, and cook up some quinoa first. But then it all goes pretty quickly.


Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion- red or sweet
2 heaping cups chopped Baby Bella or Cremini mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
5 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
Sea salt and ground pepper
1 cup cooked quinoa (I cooked it in my rice cooker- here's how)
1 cup toasted gluten-free bread or waffle crumbs
2 tablespoons Annie's Organic Ketchup
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1 tablespoon dried Italian Herb Mix- basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
3-4 scallions (spring onions) sliced thin, white to light green section
1 baked sweet potato, peeled, diced (take it out before it's cooked too much, not too soft)

Maple Apricot Glaze:

1/4 cup no-sugar apricot fruit spread
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
A sprinkle of cinnamon and cumin
Hot red chili flakes, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a glass bread loaf pan.  

Or-- my latest tip is to line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper that extends up above the longer sides. When the loaf has baked, and set a bit, lift out the loaf in one whole piece.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and cook the onion until it is translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic; stir until softened. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the spinach. Season with sea salt and ground pepper. Stir and cook down until the mixture is soft- about seven minutes or so.

Spoon the skillet vegetables into a food processor bowl and pulse to make a grainy mixture. Don't over-process it, you want some texture.

Dump the mixture into a large bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, gluten-free breadcrumbs, ketchup, molasses and olive oil and stir to combine. Add in your dried herbs, rosemary, scallions, and mix to distribute. You want a moist mixture that sticks together when you press it with a spoon. if you need more ketchup to hold it together, add it now, maybe a tablespoon.

Last- add in the diced sweet potato and fold in gently.

Spoon the loaf mixture into the oiled loaf pan and shape it with moist fingers, pressing it tight into the pan. Smooth the top.

Make your glaze.

Pour the glaze all over the top of the loaf.

Tent loosely with a piece of foil. Bake in the center of a preheated oven until heated through and the edges of the glaze are bubbling- about 25 to 30 minutes.

Allow the loaf to set for ten minutes, tented with foil. This helps it to settle, and makes it easier to slice. Slice into portions and lift out with thin spatula. It should hold together.

Serve with my Two Potato Salad and some fresh greens and tomatoes.

Makes six slices.

Wrap and store leftovers in the fridge.

Recipe Source:

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This vegan loaf was very tasty the next day; even cold, it had a lot of flavor. It will make for fun picnic food. Make a day ahead for picnics and pot luck suppers. A cold slice is terrific for lunch.

I'm going to try this mixture for making vegan "meatballs" and garden burgers.


Check out blogging pal Ellen's take on Karina's Veggie Loaf and her latest version: Veggie Loaf Revisited at I Am Gluten-Free. She's been tweaking.

Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen cooked up Mushroom, Lentil, Wild Rice Timbales.


Banjo said...

Hi Karina! I nominated you for a blogging award. Check out my blog. :) Thanks again for all of your wonderful recipes.

Devon said...

Karina- I really like your unabashed embrace of a dish that is often put down. As someone who is obsessed with brussels sprouts, I hear it all the time. Until of course, they taste it and then reputation be damned- another convert. Good on you for this recipe and for proceeding fearlessly.

I think it is great that you are able to re-embrace your vegetarianism after recovering from your medical issue and that you listen to your body telling you it is what you want! It is a beautiful thing to listen to our bodies.

Ricki said...

This sounds wonderful to me! I just posted about veggie burgers and how much I prefer them to be truly veggie rather than fake meat--so this is just the kind of thing I'd love. And the glaze makes it sound even better!

I Am Gluten Free said...

Thank you Karina for linking to my blogpost about your Veggie Loaf! Great job on reinventing yourself (or your recipe) yet again. You continue to amaze and inspire all of us in blog land. This one looks delish - a nice alternative to the loaf that has nuts in it - another one to add to my "must try" file. Be well!


Ali said...

I'm a huge fan of this development in your blog. Bring on the vegan gluten-free recipes!

MaryG said...

This looks delicious! I too was a vegetarian for many years before diagnosis. I kept it up for a couple of years after diagnosis with ever diminishing returns. If you can eat bread or pasta, it's easy to eat at a restaurant or with friends and have a satisfying vegetarian meal of salad or soup if that's all that's available. If you can't, sometimes there is literally nothing to eat. A tiny salad of bare iceberg lettuce doesn't count! I don't know how many times I went home from "dinner" hungry as a shark and had to cook myself a meal. So I caved and added chicken and fish into my mostly vegetable and fruit diet. My body adapted quickly and I feel very healthy. However, this doesn't always sit comfortably with me, and at some point I may evolve towards being vegetarian again. And with food this tasty-looking, what's not to love about it? I will still probably eat meat at outside events, but at home I can do what I please!

Vegetation said...

Karina, there is not a doubt in my mind that you will come up with vegetarian recipes every bit as wonderful and mouth watering as your omniverous one's! I for one can't wait to see what you have in store :D

This dish sounds absolutely fabulous and I'll definitely be making it soon!

Ilva said...

I haven't made a vegetable loaf or whatever we call them for ages but now you have inspired me! Thanks Karina xx

moonwatcher said...

Hi Karina,

This looks and sounds delicious! I, too, am happy that I'll be seeing even MORE gluten free vegan recipes from you. Thanks so feeding us so well and teaching us how to do it in such a delicious manner!


Dayna said...

Nothing wrong with vegan - or feeling lighter.
You go you Gluten, Dairy, Egg-Free Goddess!

Alisa said...

I love the veggie recipes you come up with, they are always so creative!

Rach said...

"Gnaw on some haggis." rofl

dreaminitvegan said...

This looks like a wonderful recipe for a veggie loaf! There are two different recipes I usually use, one using Kombucha squash with a sweet potato sauce. Since I've been in the mood to make a loaf, I am going to be trying yours.
Thanks for the wonderful recipe. We love quinoa!

Kim said...

This looks delicious! I hear you on the omnivore thing - I was a vegetarian for 10 years, and loved it. Then I got sick, became allergic to a lot of vegetable proteins, and pretty much had to eat the meat once again. While I've learned to enjoy meat, sometimes it is just so comforting to return to animal free eating. And this loaf sounds great - I also miss the nut-packed veggie loaves from my past!!! Although I can't eat some of the ingredients you used, most things would be easy to substitute. But here's the big one - do you have any suggested substitutes for the mushrooms, currently on my list of no-no foods? Thanks!

Warm n Wonderful said...

HI Karina, this looks and sounds os delicious. I love that it is gluten free and soy free. Like you I have many allergies, and a big one is mushrooms. I have found loads of vegetarian gluten/soy free, but they more often than not contain mushrooms, (I miss them sooo much!) Any ideas of an alternative? I'd appreciate anything you can suggest.

Thanks so much for all the help you have given me in the past year, I love your blog.

Emily said...

Looks great! I'm allergic to mushrooms, can I use eggplant instead? Or, do you have any suggestions.

Julie said...

wondering too about a substitution for the mushrooms. Thanks, Julie

Johanna said...

I love nut loaves and any veg loaf actually - but have never thought to glaze them - hope to try this one some time because it looks good

Karina Allrich said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. Much appreciated. You, as they say, rock. xox

As for the mushroom allergies- wow. This is a problem. The meatiness and density of the mushrooms gives this loaf a flavor and texture boost. Hard to replace exactly. But, that said...

Eggplant might work for roughly half of the substitution- using maybe 1/2 to 1 cup diced cooked eggplant- as long as it's not too spongy. I'd cook it in balsamic vinegar, too, to add flavor.

If you can do nuts, ground nuts will work for some of it, too. Processed walnuts, cashews or pecans.

How about cooked lentils? I'm not a fan of lentils, but many cooks use red lentils in veggie loaves.

Or some cooked black beans with a little more cooked sweet potato.

As you make your loaf mixture, taste test and adjust seasonings to your liking. You may need less- or more- binding moisture (ketchup, molasses).

Mushroom allergic peeps- stop back if you tweak this recipe and share with us what you did.

Good luck!


Kate said...

Any tomato free substitutions for the ketchup? I've recently had to give up tomatoes and am at a total loss for something that captures a similar flavor.

Karina Allrich said...

Kate- Oh, boo. Here's a thought. How about making up some tomato-free BBQ sauce to use in recipes?

Start with some sweet potato, squash or pumpkin puree. Add some molasses, onion and garlic powder, a tiny pinch of cloves. Some paprika. A drop of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. If it needs more sweet, a pinch of brown sugar or drop of agave. Make it to taste. You can even make it spicy, if you like.

Cover and keep in the fridge.

Might work?


Kim said...

Thanks for the mushroom substitution ideas. Thankfully, I'm not allergic, I just need to avoid them for some yeast overgrowth issues I'm dealing with. Soon I'll be back to the world of mushrooms, but until then, I'll try out some of your options!!!

I have a suggestion for tomato-free Kate - I too am tomato free (sad!), and this is my substitution for tomato sauce and ketchup:
4 medium beets (cooked and pureed), 1 c carrots, 1 stalk celery, 1 medium onion, 2 T rice flour, 3 c water, 1 T tamari
Saute onions, celery, and carrots, add beets and simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 c water, bring to scald, simmer 20 minutes. Dilute rice flour in 2 c water, add tamari, and add to beet mixture. Simmer 10 minutes. Add any desired seasonings, simmer 5-10 minutes more. Use as is, or to make it more like ketchup add a little apple cider vinegar and puree until smooth. It is a recipe from "Healing With Whole Foods" by Paul Pitchford. I am going to try making it more like BBQ sauce sometime with a little molasses....

Hope that helps!!!

Katie said...

Another delicious sounding recipe. This is sure to make an appearance on my table over the summer. The image of us Vegetarians living off dry nut loaves is very outdated - bet no one would miss meat if they were fed some of this

Sea said...

Dear Karina, When I first saw your photo I thought "ewww meat" and then I read the tagline! Lol. It looks lovely and very tasty. I would never laugh at a yummy vegetarian (vegan, even!) loaf. You rock!


dreaminitvegan said...

I made this a couple of nights ago and the flavor was amazing! 2 thumbs up from my son and husband.
Mine was a bit soft but set up better when it cooled down. I used 16oz. of baby bellas, a bit more spinach and ketchup. It tastes great cold and on sandwichs too! Thanks again Karina!

antoinette D. said...

Thank you for this fabulous recipe. I made it last night and turned out delicious. I was a little confused, however, when to add the scallions.
I just threw them in at the end.

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous. We are vegetarians and I'm gluten free and everyone loved it. Even the non-veg guest. She took seconds and I was thrilled. I've made several different main dish loaves and this was, by far, the best. You made me a hero!

EsquireD said...

Thank you for the wonderful recipe Karina! I too forayed back into the meat world when I found I had to go gluten and dairy free. After 3 years of convincing myself "I had to eat meat" as a reluctant carnivore, I realized that actually, I don't have to eat animals. Its a challenging ride, but like you - I am lighter, more creative and at peace this way. Thank you for the lovely recipes, the beautiful writing and sharing your story. Brightest blessings to you!

Stephanie said...

Wow. I mean, wow. I'm working on converting to vegan, and while not strictly gluten-free, your recipes are so yummy that I might just use them anyway. This is better than any "real" (non-vegan) meatloaf I've been able to make. Your food tastes great, is healthy, and definitely is filling.

Anonymous said...

This recipe is amazing! I absolutely love it and have made it twice in the past month! Thank you so much for your yummy recipes!!!

Mia said...

My veggie meatloaf turned out soft. Not sure what I did wrong. I followed all of the instructions.

Mandee said...

I made this last night and just blogged about it. This is such a fantastic recipe, the loaf held it's shape and when sliced too. The flavours were deeeeelicious! Thanks, Karina :)

Jessica L. Caneal said...

I just made this tonight for dinner. I followed the recipe exactly and I expected it to be good, but it was so much more than good! It was amazing! Thanks for posting such a delicious recipe!

Alene said...

Karina, this is a wonderful recipe! But I had trouble with crumbling slices, and wonder if you have any tips. I am planning on serving this as a veggie option at a 'retro' dinner, and need to be able to serve slices 'intact'. Any thoughts would be very appreciated!

Karina Allrich said...

Alene, I didn't have this trouble- wondering if it had enough moisture and was packed in tightly? Allow the loaf to set before slicing and serving. The hotter it is, the more fragile it is. One trick I do now- line the loaf pan with a piece of parchment paper to help with lifting the loaf out of the pan whole.


Anonymous said...

We just had this for our Meatless Monday this week! It was sweet and savory! Great consistency and quite hearty... It was so good, that I ate a bit too much! My husband was iffy at first, but once he tasted it he was in love...had a second and third helping!!!

We actually substituted the sweet potato with butternut squash since our oldest daughter is allergic to sweet potato. I was looking for a cherry or dark jam(like you suggested) to compensate for the balsamic vinegar due to my daughter's grape allergy, but couldn't find one without grape. I even had a hard time finding the apricot without grape, but thankfully the 6th row I checked was my lucky winner!

We would definitely make this again!! Thanks Karina!

homebornbabes said...

I loved this! It was a hit in our family. I sub'd leeks for the red onion since one family member is allergic. I ran out of spinach and so I added a cup of chopped green cabbage and it still turned out great! The glaze was AMAZING!!! Wow! The blend of apricot, cumin and cinnamon was very exotic.

Zee said...

I am definitely making this for Thanksgiving! Out of curiosity, do you know how well this freezes?

She Exclaimed said...

So yummy! I'm newly gluten free, but have been a vegetarian for awhile. This is the first recipe I've tried off your blog, but I imagine I'll be trying many more. Thank you for doing a big chunk of the hard work that a newbie-to-gluten-free cooking doesn't have the time or budget to experiment with.

happy hippie barn said...

I am so excited to find your blog! I'm a vegetarian and my husband is gluten free! Great find for us!!

Charity Felton said...

This was a yummy recipe but, like others, mine came out too soft to slice even after following the directions to the letter (I even used parchment paper). I wonder if the loaf pan was my problem. I used a heavy glass Pyrex one and wondered if a thinner metal one would have helped. The mixture was pressed in airtight so that's the only thing I can come up with. Thanks for still tasted great! :)

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