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 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: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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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.
Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen cooked up Mushroom, Lentil, Wild Rice Timbales.