Thanksgiving can be a challenge for vegetarians, as well as for those hosting vegetarians. Everyone’s just so obsessed with that bird! (That succulent, savory, delectable, cooked-to-perfection bird!) Although vegetarians do get to enjoy all the other traditional goodies—sweet potatoes, stuffing, veggies, pies—they’re often left without a real entrée on their plates. In an attempt to help rectify this deficit, I decided to come up with a really good meat-free Thanksgiving entrée this year that would satisfy the vegetarians and entice the bird-eaters, too.
For guidance, I turned to a foodie friend whom I consider to be my vegetarian consultant. Her main advice was to please not stuff something into a squash. She’s a little tired of that. Ok, no stuffed squash. As a second criteria (in addition to not being a stuffed squash), I wanted my veggie entrée to be able to stand on its own as a real main course—to be more than just another side dish. And third, I wanted it to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
The happy result of all the above criteria-crunching is this Vegetarian Wild Mushroom “Meatloaf”—a far cry from “that ’70s vegetarian food” that my consultant warned me about. The dried porcinis and Parmesan give this dish a sophisticated flavor, while the nuts and rice give it a dense and hardy meat-like texture. It’s tasty, filling, and holds its own as a genuine entrée that goes perfectly with potatoes, green beans, gravy, et al.
This recipe is a little less lazy than typical Two Lazy Gourmets fare, but it’s worth it. I’ve managed to simplify the process by minimizing the number of dirty dishes involved, and if you plan your time well (soaking the mushrooms and cooking the rice in advance) it’s really quite straightforward. Chopping the domestic mushrooms and the nuts in a food processor will make your work speedier and yield a nicer, finer result. You can also assemble the entire loaf up to a day in advance, so that all you have to do is pop it in the oven about an hour before dinner.
Tomorrow I’ll be posting my Savory Mushroom Gravy, which makes a perfect partner for this loaf and uses a lot of the same ingredients, to help streamline your shopping list. Oh, and by the way, this mixture would be really good stuffed into a squash!Print
- 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ pound domestic mushrooms (e.g., button, cremini, portobello), finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ cup sherry or wine
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 2 cups cashews, finely chopped or crushed
- ½ cup pine nuts, finely chopped or crushed
- 7 ounces Parmesan cheese
- 5 eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F and oil a 9 x 5-inch (or equivalent) loaf pan.
- Cover dried porcinis in hot water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. When rehydrated, remove from the water and chop. (Note: if you plan to make our Savory Mushroom Gravy, use 3½ cups of hot water and reserve the 3 cups (or so) that remain after the mushrooms have been rehydrated.)
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy pan or pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients.
- When oil is hot but not burning, add onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are soft and translucent (5 to 7 minutes).
- Add garlic, domestic mushrooms, salt, pepper, and thyme. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the juice from the mushrooms has been released and mostly cooked off.
- When the pan begins to get dry, deglaze with sherry or wine, continuing to cook for about half a minute more to let the sherry or wine reduce.
- Remove pan from heat.
- Stir rice, cashews, pine nuts, and chopped porcinis into the mushrooms.
- Let mixture cool from hot to warm (or even room temperature), and add cheese.
- Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. When flavors are good to go, stir in the eggs and mix thoroughly.
- Pack mixture into loaf pan and bake in preheated oven for about one hour, until firm to the touch with lightly crisped edges.
- Let cool for about 10 minutes.
- Gently slide a knife around the edges to loosen, then slowly and carefully turn the pan upside-down to slide the loaf out.
- Serve with Savory Mushroom Gravy or the gravy of your choice.
Make it ahead:
- Follow instructions up to the point of putting mushroom mixture into the loaf pan.
- Cover and refrigerate for up to one day before baking.
- If mixture is cold when put into the oven it might take a little longer than one hour to bake.