Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vegetarianism: Sticking To Your Ribs Since Day One

People have often asked me how vegetarians and vegans stay full. This isn't as strange of a question as it sounds; even the words vegetarian and vegan conjure up images of youthful, glowing men and women flocking through a field, picking and joyously eating fruits and veggies for sustenance.

Okay, maybe I took the image a little far, but you get my drift. Sometimes as I'm excitedly describing how I finally made a tasty quinoa pilaf after many failed attempts or how Greg and I decided we love the Mediterranean Lentil Salad from Moosewood, but we had to pull back on the dressing to make it work, I can see it in their eyes: how aren't you starving? I think what really surprises people is when I talk about some of the other meals Greg and I have, including one of Greg's all time faves: meatloaf. Excuse me, did I say meatloaf? I meant neatloaf.

Oh dear, we've crossed the threshold, into creating vegan replacements, with cutesy takes on the original name! But I assure you, this mock meatloaf is delish. I served it up a couple years ago for a dinner party and it was a hit, and Greg and I love to eat this when the weather is cold outside. It has the mouthfeel and satisfying taste of the original; trust me, I'm the original love to eat until I explode kind of person. At the same time, this recipe is vegan, and even if you're not vegan, it's great because it is much lower in calories than the original and is cholesterol free - something all of us can get behind.

This recipe was adapted from Mama's Mock Meatloaf at They recommend using Gimme Lean Beef for the hamburger replacement; although it has the texture of ground meat, I'm actually not a huge fan of the flavor. Instead, I recommend Lightlife's Smart Ground Original; the final result may be a little more crumbly, but the flavor is fantastic. Regardless with what you decide, all of these items can be found in the refrigerated "mock meats" section in the grocery store, which is usually by the produce.

This recipe is also great for a make-ahead meal; simply put the loaf together the night before, put it in the pan, cover with saran wrap, and it can stay in the fridge. You can also make the coating the night before, too; just put it in a separate container. The next day, just bake according to the directions below.

Neatloaf (adapted from Mama's Mock Meatloaf)
Yields: 6 servings

Loaf ingredients:
1 medium onion dicde
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 tsp. vegetable oil or spray
24 oz. (approximately) of burger substitute (that's two packages of Smart Ground)
1/4 c. oats
2 slices vegan bread, toasted and crumbled
3 Tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. pepper

Coating ingredients:
1/2 c. ketchup
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. nutmeg

1) Saute the onion and green pepper in the oil or spray over medium heat until soft. Combine in a bowl with the ground beef alternative, oatmeas, bread, ketchup, garlic salt, and pepper (preferably with your hands!) until well combined. Press into a greased loaf pan.
Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
2) Mix together the ingredients for the coating and set aside.
3) Remove the loaf from the oven and spread the coating over the top of the loaf. Cook, uncovered, for another 15 minutes-25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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