Mock meat loaves were common fare for vegetarians in the 60s and 70s, and then they went out of favor. Many deserved to be forgotten, but this walnut loaf is a gem. It has a superb flavor and texture, not at all "health foodish." If the holiday season goes by without my making this loaf for the family, they don't hesitate to tell me of their disappointment. Reminiscent of traditional meat loaf, this version also makes fabulous sandwiches when left over, especially when combined with layers of stuffing and cranberry sauce. For Thanksgiving I like to present this as a centerpiece, accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and vegetables—in other words, as one would present a traditional turkey dinner.
9 slices (8 ounces) commercial whole wheat bread
(such as Arnold or Pepperidge Farm)
2 cups (8 ounces) walnuts
3 large eggs
3 medium onions, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
1 small celery rib, minced
1 small bunch parsley,
stems discarded and leaves chopped
2/3 cup canned crushed tomatoes or
1 (16-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained very well
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
Generous seasoning freshly ground black pepper
1. Toast the bread slices either in the toaster or on a baking sheet placed under the broiler. Let cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously butter a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, then line the bottom with wax paper and butter the paper.
3. Tear up the toasted bread slices and make crumbs out of them in a food processor. Place in a large bowl.
4. Process the walnuts until finely ground and mix into the bread crumbs. Combine the eggs and onions in the processor and process until fine but not liquefied. Stir into the bread crumbs. Place the green pepper, celery, parsley, tomatoes, and oil in the processor and grind until fine but still with some texture. Stir into the loaf mixture along with the poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix this all very well until evenly moistened. (The mixture may be prepared to this point and refrigerated up to 8 hours in advance.) Scrape it into the prepared loaf pan and smooth over the top. Cover the loaf with foil.
5. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the loaf comes out dry. Let sit 5 minutes, then run a knife all along the sides of the loaf to help loosen it. Unmold the loaf onto a platter and remove the wax paper. Let the loaf cool 20 minutes or so before slicing it. It's best to serve the loaf warm and the gravy hot. Serve with Mushroom Gravy (below).
If you don't have a food processor, you can grind everything in a blender, but it will have to be done in many batches so the blender is not overfilled.
You can also cook the loaf a few hours in advance, then reheat slices on an oiled baking sheet in a 350-degree oven.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups (8 ounces) thinly sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup unbleached flour
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock, store-bought or homemade
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the flour; it will become very pasty. Cook this roux for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. It will stick to the bottom of the pan a little bit; that's okay.
2. Stir in the stock, wine, soy sauce, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook the sauce at a lively simmer for 5 minutes, stirring almost constantly and scraping any crusty bits that adhere to the bottom of the pan. Serve in a sauceboat.
300 Essential Recipes for Every Course and Every Meal
By Jeanne Lemlin
HarperCollins, May 2001
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created October 2001
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