Now this recipe is inspired by our mom’s original meatloaf. It is an iconic dish, usually served at dinner tables for supper or when there was a feast to celebrate. But did you know where this juicy, mouth-watering, protein-rich food originated?
Well, it was believed that during the Great Depressionxz, thirty housewives invented this dish. They had the idea of blending meat with filler that tenderizes meat back in the 4th or 5th century AD. The recipe was found in a Roman cookbook, Apicius, which contains the following ingredients: chopped meat, bread, and wine. Then in the late 1800s, the American meatloaf was introduced, which was inspired by the manufacturers of the newly invented meat grinder.
How was the original meatloaf made?
Needless to say, ground meat is the primary ingredient. You can use any meat that can be bought in the butcher’s corner of the supermarket. It can be all-beef or a combination of beef and pork. Add a filler to the meat to prevent it from becoming dense.
The most popular fillers are minced vegetables, Japanese panko crumbs, rice, oatmeal, crackers, and bread crumbs. To bind and moisten the mixture, eggs can be added as well. Salt and pepper enhance the flavor, but herbs can be added to your heart’s content. Meatloaf is served with additional ingredients on top, sauced, glazed or just simply naked.
Every homemaker who loves to prepare meals for the family must have tried making this dish at least once or twice. But now with the changing lifestyle of this generation, certain diets need to be considered in preparing recipes. For this recipe, let us focus on vegetarians or even just those who are temporarily avoiding meat – that’s why it is called vegetarian meat loaf.
Now, the original meatloaf, as mentioned above, contains meat, which is a very good source of protein in our daily nutrition. However, for this recipe, lentils will be used.
Did you know that of all nuts and legumes, lentils rank in the top 3 for highest protein content in the nutrition table?
In the USDA nutrition composition table, one cup of cooked lentils provides 18g of protein. This is the leanest protein you can get, with 1 gram or less of fat, a very negligible fat content, and no cholesterol. In comparison, meat, fish, and poultry are all very good sources of protein, but they contain significantly higher amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat. In a study published in 2015, in the journal Clinical Diabetes, it was cited that apart from the lean protein from legumes, such as lentils, a good amount of dietary fiber can also be obtained. High intake of legumes along with other fruits and vegetables added to the diet can possibly be linked to significantly lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
This plant-based protein source makes an amazing high-protein alternative for any meat in almost a variety of recipes. Its soft texture when cooked means that it has good binding properties and can make other food items such as balls or patties. Lentils can also be used to thicken almost any casserole, soups, and stews. Also, it has a neutral flavor, making it easy to match various herbs, spices, and seasonings.
In preparing this recipe, make sure that the lentils are well-prepared by boiling to medium heat for approximately 40 minutes or longer. Check once in a while to see if the beans are already cooked and soft. Don’t worry, any lentil varieties will do.
Also, don’t miss out the Nootropic mushroom gravy that really goes well with this vegetarian gravy. Time to eat smart for dinner!
Vegetarian Loaf with Nootropic Mushroom Gravy
For the vegetarian loaf:
1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
¾ cup bulgur wheat
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large red onion, chopped
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chicken seasoning
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup instant oatmeal
1 red bell pepper, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, grated
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
For the mushroom gravy:
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white onion, chopped finely
1 cup shitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons thyme, fresh
2 ¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided in two
1 cup onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup shitake mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
¼ cup red wine
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions For the vegetarian loaf:
- In a small saucepan, put 2 cups of water, add lentils and boil over high heat. Cover and allow to simmer until lentils are all tender, approximately 40 minutes. Turn off heat, drain, and set aside.
- In the same saucepan, put 1 ½ cups of water and boil on high heat. Put in bulgur. Cover and simmer until bulgur is tender and water absorbed by the bulgur, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside.
- In a saucepan or skillet, mix mushrooms, onion, cider, chicken seasoning, and salt. Cover and allow to simmer until vegetables are tender. Transfer these to a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped finely.
- Transfer into a bowl and fold in cooked lentils, softened bulgur, oats, bell pepper, and parsley.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare an 8 or 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Transfer the lentil mixture into the pan, pack firmly, and smoothen the top.
- Bake for about an hour or until edges are slightly brown. Remove pan from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and cut the loaf into 1-inch slices.
Directions For the Mushroom Gravy:
- In a large skillet, pour oil and add onion; cook for 3 to 4 minutes until translucent. Add ¼ cup of chicken broth to keep the onions from burning.
- Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes until it releases the liquid and tender.
- Add in garlic, rosemary, and thyme and stir for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add wine and the remaining cups of broth and bring to a simmer.
- In a small bowl, whisk together tamari, nutritional yeast, and cornstarch until it forms a slurry. Pour this into the skillet and stir continuously until everything is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
- Add pepper to taste and serve.
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour & 20 minutes
Serves: 6-8 slices