Friday, February 3, 2012

Vegetarian Meatloaf + Garlic Mashed Potatoes

One of my favorite restaurants in Memphis, Fuel Café, serves a vegetarian meatloaf that is so good that I have to get it every time I go. I just love a fresh update to old-fashioned comfort food like that. So, I decided to take a stab at making my own version of this 1980's-time-capsule treat.

As you could've guessed, my meatloaf features mushrooms. I just can't get enough of their meaty texture and savory flavor. But I didn't stop there -- I also added tempeh and walnuts for their flavor and hearty texture. This loaf is tender and delicious, especially served over my garlic mashed potatoes and topped with a parsley and tomato salad.

This can easily feed a crowd, so it might be something good to make for Christmas dinner. In the unlikely event of leftovers, there's nothing better than a few slices of vegetarian meatloaf dressed with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese between two slices of sourdough bread.

(Okay, I know the following looks like a long list of ingredients, but it actually comes together very quickly if you use a food processor to do all the chopping.)

Vegetarian Meatloaf
(serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups finely chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
1/2 cup finely chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
2 vegetarian bouillon cubes (like Not-Beef brand)
8 ounces crimini mushrooms (finely chopped)
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 block tempeh (crumbled)
1 cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes* (finely chopped)
1 cup walnuts (finely chopped)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon mustard (English, like Colman's)
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup half and half
Ketchup Glaze*

While preparing your vegetables it's good to not that a majority of the work may be done in the food processor. Just add the roughly chopped ingredient and pulse the processor a few times until it is broken down into the desired size. This works particularly well with the onion, celery and carrots. The other ingredients are best chopped by hand. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pan and stir. Cook until onion is translucent and beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the bouillon cubes and stir into the vegetable mixture until incorporated. 

Place mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the mushroom, bell pepper, tempeh, sun-dried tomatoes, walnuts, ketchup, mustard, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic powder, red pepper, thyme, paprika, and half and half. Work the mixture together with your hands until everything is well incorporated. Allow mixture to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes. 

On a silpat or parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet, place the mixture in the center. Using your hands, form a loaf that is about 12 inches long, 6 inches wide, and about 2 1/2 inches tall. The loaf should be smooth and have rounded edges. This will help the loaf stay together when serving. Place loaf in the oven for 25 minutes. Brush with the ketchup glaze and return loaf to the oven for another 10 minutes, brush another coat of glaze on top, and bake for a final 10 minutes.

Ketchup Glaze*

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
6 dashes Tabasco
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sorghum

Mix ketchup, soy, tabasco, black pepper, and sorghum until well incorporated.

Parsley and Tomato Salad

1 1/2 cups diced tomato
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup diced shallot
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon champagne vinegar

Toss tomato, parsley, shallot, salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar together in a small bowl.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
5 cups peeled, diced potatoes
2 cups diced cauliflower
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup half & half
8 cloves garlic (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

Place potatoes, cauliflower, butter, half and half, garlic, salt, and pepper in a covered, microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 12 minutes. Mash with a potato masher and then add the sour cream. 

*If you cannot find smoked sun-dried tomatoes, just use plain sun-dried tomatoes add a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to the meatloaf mix.


  1. Awesome. I want to and will do this on Sunday as well with the triple tomato soup. They sound perfect together for a nice sunday dinner and we have a guest kitchen maestro coming to add his excellent opinion.

  2. Hi Justin, I tested the mashed potatoes, triple tomato soup and veg. meatloaf on Sunday with fantastic success. I have notes to comment thoroughly but I have been sick as a dog and hope to be able to write more asap...perhaps tonight

  3. Hi Justin, I wish I had written sooner. Sorry to keep you waiting. The meatloaf was fantastic. We all had a delicious dinner and the leftovers made really good sandwiches. I thought it was even better the following days we snacked on it. I had very few questions or hurdles to speak of. I used a tomato based bouillion cube and I wondered if you considered salt content for different types of cubes? Mine are very low sodium...not that the result was not salty enough. The call for 1/8 tsp of black pepper threw me a little.... I just ground out a hearty pinch and I think you could ask for same in the recipe. Grind size varies so much. With the bell pepper, I assumed you wanted a more coarse chop perhaps for texture or flavor punch as you did not specify a size. I thought a medium dice worked well. What mushrooms do you prefer for this? We used crimini and were glad for their earthy flavor and texture. I think some mention in the beginning of purposes of hand chopping vs pulsing could clear things up some. For sun-dried tomatoes (I did not have the time or means to smoke them :( ) we used dry packed....I could see oil packed providing a nice fat content and even adding to the binding process but am not sure if they would take a smoking? Sorghum is hard to find.... I had some but I wonder if molasses would work just as well and be more accessible to the average home-cook? I have a "spicy" (not really) smoked paprika that is exceptional and I think it helped add some umami in place of the smoked tomatoes. Have you ever steamed tempeh? I was trained years ago to always steam it in an approach like this, so I did. It adds a more tender chew, makes crumbling easier and mellows out the bitterness some tempeh has. 15 minute steam. Sorry if you think it strayed too far from your intention...I think it was a good idea. I had no dried thyme but I used 1.5 tsp of fresh and it worked well. It was present but not overwhelming. I carefully measured the loaf upon shaping and it was a bit larger than what I expected but it all still came together and cooked beautifully. I love the two times glaze method. I don't use silpat and well oiled foil worked perfectly. The meatloaf was the highlight of our week and I was grateful to not have to cook for two nights as I was not well. The mashed potatoes were completely divine. Microwave times seem to vary so much. Ours took a good 5 minutes more and I think if I had Finely chopped them as opposed to just "chopping" them it may have cooked more evenly...but a simple stir and re-fire solved it. Perhaps saying to "small-dice" them would help? We had leftover and I made a fantastic batch of gnocchi from the well seasoned garlic mash. It's nice when one meal can transfer into another nights pleasure. the tomato soup was totally killer...I would change but one thing, I was not sure what you wanted me to do with the roasted tomatoes once I peeled them...the directions don't say to actually remove the skin. I found it clear to do so but maybe more explicit direction might help others. To chop, dice, puree or leave whole? I tried to picture the result based on the different option and I really finely diced it and I believe the result was correct. Puree might ruin the integrity of the toothsome bits and a large chop might be too much. Ooops, I just realized that I am writing the soup notes here in the wrong area...I hope that wont be a problem. If I remember correctly, there was no mention of S&P for the soup? The french onion approach with the onions and the crouton/cheese sealed the deal and made a comfort food fan of all of us. I hope this was helpful. I learned some new things and thank you again. You are a very creative cook/recipe master and I look forward to trying more, like the tofu almondine this week. Take care, let me know if you have more questions. Trevor