Blogging Marthon# 46: Week 1/ Day 2 Theme: Festival Special — Thanksgiving Dish: Vegetarian Meatloaf (with Rice & Lentils) with Checca Sauce
Well’s Vegetarian Thanksgiving from New York Times is a great resource for vegetarian and vegan dishes to make for Thanksgiving. The New York Times editors curate a huge list of non-traditional no-turkey/ meat dishes on their Well’s blog. I think they have been doing this every year since 2010. They have an impressive line up of dishes from famous food writers and chefs utilizing the fall harvest and delicious vegetables.
The idea to make a Vegetarian meatloaf came from one of the Well’s Thanksgiving menus. Meatloaf is exactly what it sounds like — meat made into a loaf. Most vegetarian meatloaves are made of lentils, mushrooms or TVP (soy granules). The recipe I used today uses both lentils and rice for the structure. I remember watching Giada making it on Food Network and wanted to try the recipe.
To speed up the process, I cooked the rice and lentils in a pressure cooker instead of in a open pot. I used a 8½”x4½” loaf pan instead of the strange 10″x4½” pan recommended in the original recipe. I added an egg just to make sure that the loaf holds its shape, But I think that egg can easily be substituted with either ground flax meal or egg replacer. It was a little difficult to get the first piece out of the pan, but cooling the loaf did the trick for me.
This is a very flavorful and filling meatloaf. Checca sauce is a raw tomato sauce that is added to the loaf itself and is also served on the side for added flavor. My favorite part is the melted cheese and the tomatoes on the top of the loaf. Also I halved the recipe since I was cooking just for myself. I froze the leftovers for later meals.
1/3 , 30cupLentils- soaked for minutes (I used Brown lentils, but green lentils can also be used)
½cuprice- (I used Jasmine rice, original recipe used brown rice)
1carrot- small, diced
1onion- small, finely chopped
½cup (after thawing) or use 2 cupsSpinach spinachFrozen - of fresh that is cooked and squeezed dry
1egg- lightly beaten (can also use vegan egg substitutes like egg replacer or flax seeds)
¾cupmozzarella cheese- cubed, divided (I used grated mozzarella)
2tbspsParmesan cheese- grated
1tomato- medium, sliced
to tasteSalt Pepper&
For the Checca Sauce:
2TomatoesRipe - medium, chopped
1tbspextra virgin olive oil
2tbspcilantro- , finely chopped
to tasteSalt Pepper&
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8½"x4½" loaf pan with 1tsp butter.
Make the Checca Sauce: Grind all the ingredients for the checca sauce until tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Make sure that the tomatoes are not pureed,
For the Lentil Loaf: Heat 2tsp oil in a pressure cooker; add the onions, carrots and cook for 2~3 minutes or until the veggies are slightly tender.
Drain the lentils and add to the veggies. Next add the rice and 1½cups of water. Season with salt and pepper and cook till rice and lentils are tender. I cooked for 2~3 whistles in my cooker.
Let the pressure of the cooker release naturally, open the lid and add the frozen corn, set aside for 5 minutes. Gently fluff the rice and cool for 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, combine the rice & lentil mixture, half of the Checca sauce, thawed frozen spinach, beaten egg, half of the mozzarella cheese, 1tbsp parmesan cheese, chopped cilantro and season with salt & pepper. Mix gently.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Place the tomatoes in 1 layer, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Dot the top with the remaining 2tsp butter.
Bake for 30~35 minutes or until the lentil mixture is heated through and the top is browned and bubbly.
Set aside for 15~20 minutes before slicing. Serve with checca sauce on the side.