Mushroom Nut Loaf (Vegan)

I made my first vegetarian mushroom nut loaf back in the 1970s. Back then it was filled with cheese and seemed like a ton of work. Much as changed since then:  no more cheese, and I have a food processor to grind the nuts and a great chef’s knife for chopping other ingredients. It no longer feels like a chore to make.

I stopped making this loaf for a long time because I host vegan retreats, and it turns out that a surprising number of people hate mushrooms. Even though I love mushrooms, my go-to loaf became this savory lentil version, which is delicious in its own right. A recent Facebook post, however, got me thinking again about the mushroom nut loaf I’d put on the back burner (so to speak!)

Yum. Just yum.

I served this dense, meaty loaf with a bit of BBQ sauce and (because that’s how I roll) sriracha. It’s quite rich and we had two leftovers meals with it. It’s superb made into sandwiches, or try a slice crumbled (cold) into a salad. Oh My!

This recipe is so versatile! I used Herbes de Provence and sage, but you can substitute to your heart’s content. Try basil and oregano for an Italian flavor. Use curry powder and garam masala for an Indian variation. Add a bit of fennel for a more “sausage loaf” flavor. It’s hard to go wrong.

The nuts are also variable. I used sunflower seeds and walnuts, but try pecans, almonds, or pumpkin seeds instead.

The type of mushroom you choose will change the texture. Portobello or crimini mushrooms give a more meaty texture. Button mushrooms are delicious too.

A key ingredient you really need is the flax meal. Buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself, though ground flax seeds work just fine (remember to refrigerate the remaining flax meal, as it can go rancid after grinding). Flax seeds serve as a binder, as eggs would in a traditional meat loaf. The flax and oats work together to make a loaf that holds its shape when sliced.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoon ground flax seeds
  • 1 pound of mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or use vegetable broth)
  • 1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (or use rice if you have some cooked)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
  • 1-2 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  1. Mix the ground flax seed and water in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a 9 inch loaf pan with parchment paper (or lightly grease the pan).
  3. Dry sauté the onions until they begin to soften. Add the celery to the pan, and continue to sauté until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and wine to the pan. Stir ingredients together and allow to simmer until most of the moisture has been absorbed.
  5. While the mushrooms cook, grind the nuts the in a food processor.
  6. Add the ground nuts to a large bowl. Mix in the quinoa, oats, soy sauce, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  7. Add the ingredients from the mushroom pan to the bowl and stir well.
  8. Add the flax mixture to the nut mix and stir to combine completely.
  9. Spread the mixture evenly in the loaf pan. Smooth it down and make sure it fills in the corners.
  10. Bake the loaf, for about 45 minutes: until it is brown and a tooth pick can be inserted into the center and pulled out clean.
  11. Allow the loaf to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing. You may need to run a knife around the edges to loosen it.
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