Many of my friends grew up eating meatloaf as a staple. I didn't. The closest our family came to a traditional meatloaf was the vegetarian gluten roast my father would make for holiday dinners. These days I lean toward gluten-free products.
On a visit to my cousins, Carmen introduced me to a vegetarian meatloaf version (think oxymoron!) that was delicious. I came back home, did some experimenting, and figured out how to make a meatless version without using prepared vegi-meat or soy-meat products.
I rarely use catsup because most labels list high fructose corn syrup. Recently I found a brand that is free of this ingredient so I can use that as an optional topping for variation. It's colorful and adds a nice little zing of flavor.
- 1 cup rice (I mix brown, black, and red versions)
- ½ cup steel-cut oats* soaked in water overnight, if possible, rinsed and drained (May substitute ½-1 cup old fashioned oats, if desired.)
- 2 cans black beans, rinsed, drained, and mashed
- 2 medium onions, chopped fine
- 2 medium carrots, grated
- ½ cup egg whites or equivalent
- ½ cup chia seeds
- ½ cup cashew pieces or slivered almonds (or other type of nuts, if preferred)
- 2 Tbsp chicken-style seasoning
- 1 cup sourdough bread crumbs
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp sage
- ½ tsp pepper
Place four cups of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add rice and drained steel-cut oats. (If using old fashioned oats, add to rice about half-way through the cooking process.) Reduce heat and cook until soft and liquid is absorbed. Stir periodically.
Spray a non-stick frying pan with coconut oil and place over medium heat. Add minced garlic and stir until beginning to brown. Add chopped onions and cook and stir until soft.
Place in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and mix until thoroughly blended.
Pour into a square baking dish or loaf pans (with a cut-to-size piece of parchment paper on the bottom) until about three-fourths filled and spread evenly. Cover baking dishes with tin foil. You may also bake in muffin tins to get individual servings. In this case, check after 45-50 minutes as they may not need as long to bake.
Place in oven preheated to 400 degrees F. Turn heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 45 minutes.
Remove tin foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes until browned around the edges.
NOTE: If you want to add topping, remove casserole from oven after 45 minutes of baking. Pour half a cup of catsup over the top and spread evenly over meatloaf. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes of baking.
Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes.
You may spoon out 'meatloaf' or lift out squares or slices using a pancake turner.
NOTE: If you have not added catsup topping, it can be served with brown or mushroom gravy or cranberry sauce.
Goes well with Taylor's Persimmon Stuffy-Dressing.
Leftovers can be used as sandwich filling.
Freezes well. If frozen, remove from freezer, allow to thaw, and heat through in the oven.
Some nutritionists recommend using steel-cut oats (rather than rolled oats or instant oats). This is because the steel cut style are “cut” rather than “rolled,” which involves less processing. Steel-cut oats are crunchier and some think they have a better flavor. And because they are more dense they take longer to digest and cause less of a spike in glucose levels. Some comparisons rate them higher in fiber and slightly lower in fat than other forms of oats.
If you plan ahead and rinse and soak the steel-cut oats overnight, you may realize additional benefits. According to Sue Gregg (www.suegregg.com), soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid, releasing these nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli, and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins, and difficult-to-digest proteins, including gluten. After soaking, drain steel-cut oats and use in desired recipe.