03.21.12_Mealtess Meatloaf

A couple of months ago I tried a Meatless Meatloaf while out to dinner with Caitlin at Cafe Green in DC. I was surprised how amazing it was so when a recipe for Meatless Meatloaf came up on my daily Food Network Recipe calendar I was excited to try it. The recipe called for:
  • 1 pound Japanese eggplants (about 3)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 pound firm tofu
  • 8 ounces shiitake or button mushrooms, stemmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 large egg, plus 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
The only substitute we had to make was for the Japanese Eggplants. Whole Foods did not have them, of course, so we subbed the 3 smaller eggplants for one large regular eggplant.

To start, turn the broiler on, moved up the rack in the oven so it will be right underneath of the coils, then put the eggplant directly on the rack. Every couple of minutes check to see if the skin is bubbling up, then after it is slightly charred, use tongs to flip over the eggplant to do the same thing to the other side. Once the eggplant is ready, take it out of the oven and wrapped in foil then set aside to steam for 20 minutes. Leave the oven on but put it down to 350°. After the 20 minutes, remove the skin from the eggplant. This process would be much easier to directly in the flame of a gas stove, but since we have all electric appliances, this worked just as well.

While the eggplant steams, prep the rest of the ingredients. Mince two cloves of garlic, a TBSP of thyme, a TSBP of sage, and 1/4 cup of parsley. Then in the food processor, chop up 1/2 cup of walnuts and put aside in a large mixing bowl. Next, the recipe called for pulsing the mushrooms, tofu, and steamed eggplant into a food processor, and pulse into small pieces. I would recommend doing the eggplant and mushrooms separately. The tofu quickly formed a paste that made it hard to pulse the mushrooms.
Concrete or meatloaf?
Add the mushroom, tofu, and eggplant mixture into the large mixing bowl, then add the remaining loaf ingredients (all the fresh herbs, garlic, oats, wheat germ, red pepper flakes, an egg and one egg white, and S&P). Mix it all together. Once it is all combined put it into a 1.5 qt loaf pan (it fits PERFECTLY into this size pan, like no wiggle room, whatsoever). At this point, the mixture looks like wet aggregate concrete (aka not very appetizing, not gonna lie). Put the loaf into the 350° oven and bake for 50-60mins until the loaf is golden brown on top. Finally, unmold the loaf and slice. We served our meatless loaf with mashed potatoes, peas, and mushroom gravy.
We were both pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. The flavors were good and it did not taste super tofu-y like we feared. Some of my loaf got stuck to the loaf pan so if I made this again I would probably spray the pain with nonstick spray first. We really liked the top edge because it had a nice crust to it. We thought that next time we would consider spreading the mixture out into a baking dish so that it is thin, and would get crusty all over the top, or form the loaf on a baking sheet like some people cook meatloaf, so that there are more exposed edges to brown up. This recipe could also be easily made vegan by using egg substitute instead of the eggs.

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