Sunday, April 10, 2016

Marsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf

I have been on a lentil loaf kick of late.  In fact, I have made this BBQ Lentil Loaf twice in the very recent past and I just love it! I decided to give BBQ a break for the next loaf which got me thinking about interesting ways to flavor a lentil loaf.

The other day I made some Mushroom Marsala and put it over a baked potato much the way most people put it over chicken. Delicious! If this mushroom and marsala wine mixture was that good, on a potato, could it be the basis for flavoring a lentil loaf? As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I set out to try.

The verdict? Yes! This is definitely reminiscent of the flavors of chicken marsala but with a "meatloaf" twist. I loved it, and I hope you will too.

Warning: this is a bit time consuming; not a quick weeknight meal by any stretch.  I suggest making this ahead and reheating if you want a quick dinner. It freezes really well, too so you can have one teed up and ready to go in your freezer for a time of your choosing.

Marsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf

For the loaf:
1 cup green lentils
21/2 cups vegetable stock, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz button mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 tbsp ground chia seed
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste

For the marsala gravy:
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1/2 cup marsala wine plus 1 tbsp
3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 parsley sprigs, whole
5 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste

Add lentils to a medium saucepan and add two cups vegetable stock and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed all the liquid and are soft but not mushy. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While lentils are cooking, add1tbsp vegan butter and olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent and begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add 1 tbs of flour to the pan and stir for about a minute.  Add the button and shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and soften. Add the 1/2 cup of marsala wine and 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and continue to cook until the mushrooms are very soft and the liquid thickens to the consistency of gravy. Remove from the heat.

Add the cooked lentils to a large bowl. Very lightly mash with a potato masher to break open some of the lentils. Take care to not over mash the lentils. Some lentils should still appear whole.  Add the mushroom mixture to the lentils along with the thyme, parsley, chia seed and cornmeal.  Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with cooking oil and lining with parchment paper. Add the lentil mixture to the loaf pan, smoothing the top and allow it to sit for about twenty minutes so that the cornmeal can soak up the moisture and the loaf sets.

While the loaf is resting prepare the gravy by heating a small saucepan over medium heat and adding 1 tsp olive ok and vegan butter.  When heated, add the onion and saute briefly until translucent. Add the flour and stir. Cook for a minute or two.  Add another 1/2 cup marsala wine and 3/4 cup vegetable stock and the whole parsley sprigs. Simmer lightly (there should be small bubbles around the edges but it should not boil. When the consistency of gravy remove the parsley sprigs and put about 1/4 cup on the top of the meatloaf and brush to spread evenly. Place the loaf in the oven for 60 minutes.

While the loaf is cooking add the last of the mushrooms and last 1/2 cup vegetable stock and last 1 tbsp of marsala wine to a skillet over medium heat. Allow the mushrooms to cook until very tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked mushrooms to the prepared gravy that was used to brush the top of the loaf. Set aside.

When the loaf is finished cooking remove it from the oven and allow it to stand at least 20 minutes. If the loaf is cut too early it will fall apart.

Once the loaf has sufficiently cooled and set lift out of the loaf pan and transfer to a serving tray. Slice, top with mushroom gravy and garnish with parsley if desired.*

*Note: if the mushroom gravy has cooled, simply reheat it on top of the stove or in the microwave at a medium heat.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Cauliflower Fried "Rice" with Crispy Smoked Tofu

I love days that I have absolutely nothing on my schedule. Today I had nowhere to be and nothing to do. Given it was a  mid-April freak snowy day I took advantage of some down time to do some cooking.  I made a  Curried Lentil Soup, aMarsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf and  some Cauliflower Fried "Rice" with Crispy Smoked Tofu. I would call that a good day! Meals for the weekend and lunches for the week.

I had the Fried "Rice" for dinner tonight and it was delicious. I had purchased Soy Boy's Smoked Tofu last time I was in the grocery store and decided t try that out for this recipe. I tried a new cooking method (to me) for the tofu and I think the fact that it comes already baked lends itself well to the cooking method (explained below in the recipe).

I particularly enjoyed the sauce that is mixed into this fried rice. Slightly salty, slightly sweet with an interesting depth of flavor from the peanut butter and sesame oil. I think it would be good over  hot or cold noodles, too.

Tomorrow night I will be having the Marsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf; I will post a recipe and photo assuming it turned out as well as I think it did (I still have not tasted it!).

Cauliflower Fried "Rice" with Crispy Smoked Tofu

1 brick Soy Boy Smoked Tofu, cubed
1 head cauliflower, grated
1 carrot, diced fine
1/4 each red, yellow and orange pepper, diced fine
4 green onions, chopped plus more for garnish
1/2 cup shelled green peas
1/2 cup shelled edamame
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
4 tbsp tamari sauce, divided
1 tbsp organic creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the tofu cubes on the parchment paper. Bake the tofu cubes for 20 minutes turning once halfway through.

While tofu is baking whisk together 3 tbsp tamari, the maple syrup, peanut butter, sriracha, sesame oil and one clove of the minced garlic.  When the tofu is finished remove it from the oven and place in the sauce stirring to ensure all pieces are fully coated.

In a skillet over medium heat add tofu to the pan, using a slotted spoon to remove it from the marinade. Cook turning frequently until browned and crispy on all sides.  Remove from heat and set aside.   In the same skillet, add the carrots, peppers, green onions, peas, edamame and the rest of the garlic.  Add 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water is evaporated and the vegetables being to soften.

While the vegetables are cooking heat the covered cauliflower in the microwave for two minutes on high or until it is starting to soften.

Add the remaining marinade to the vegetables and cook a few more minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Add the tofu back to the skillet and then add the cauliflower and stir until incorporated.

Garnish with green onion and serve.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

BBQ Lentil Loaf

I don't often "reblog" a recipe, but this one I have made enough times that I believe it qualifies for a reblog. I absolutely love this recipe; super nutritious, very low cal and absolutely delicious.

At the time I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest I was not familiar with Brandi's blog The Vegan 8.  After discovering this recipe, I have done some more reading on her blog and it's really great. the concept is eight ingredients or less and the recipes all sound delicious. Next, I am going to try her knock off version of Zoe's Kitchen's White Beans, a favorite of mine.  The timing is perfect for that, too as the Zoe's Kitchen near me recently closed (boo!).

Anyway, I strongly recommend this loaf- I have made it both with her barbecue sauce and ones of my own. With so many variations of barbecue sauce and such a wide range of tastes out there, I will leave it up to you to decide  which barbecue sauce to use.

I did change this a bit; since I had no flax seeds in the house I ground some chia seeds instead.  I also added a ton of fresh herbs and used a tad of Hungarian paprika as I did not have chipotle powder.

While the recipe is a little time-consuming it is not difficult and is well worth it. It is a lentil loaf with great texture and slightly smoky flavor. The addition of corn brings a little sweetness that just makes the dish.

BBQ Lentil Loaf

1 cup dry green lentils
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium cooking onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 cup bbq sauce, divided with extra for dipping
1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
3 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/4 tsp Hungarian smoked paprika
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 tbsp fresh oregano, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh thyme, rough chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

In a medium saucepot over the stove add the lentils, 1/2 tsp salt and two cups of water. Bring to a boil on high,  and then reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are tender but not mushy.  Set aside.

While the lentils are cooking add the onion to a nonstick skillet with 1/4 cup vegetable stock.  Season with salt and pepper and heat over medium-low heat, cooking until the onions soften and the liquid evaporates. This may take about ten minutes. Add the garlic toward the end of the cooking, allowing the garlic just one or two minutes of cooking time

Place the lentils in a large bowl and give them a very quick mash with a potato masher or fork while being careful not to over mash. Some of the lentils should remain intact while some will be just slightly mashed.

Add the onion mixture to the  lentils and add 3/4 cup bbq sauce.  Add the cornmeal, chia seed, smoked paprika, frozen corn, fresh herbs and salt and pepper. Reseason with salt and pepper if desired and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Prepare a loaf pan by spraying it with cooking spray and then lining it with parchment paper ensuring there is enough paper hanging over the sides to easily remove the loaf later. Turn the lentil loaf mixture spreading it evenly. Allow to sit for about twenty minutes.

While the loaf rests, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Brush the top of lentil loaf with the remaining bbq sauce and place in the oven for 60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 20 minutes (this is important; if you take the loaf out of the pan immediately it will fall apart).

After 20 minutes remove the loaf by lifting it out of the pan by the overhanging parchment paper. Place on a counter or cutting board. You should be able to easily lift the loaf off of the parchment paper and onto a serving platter.

Serve with extra bbq sauce for dipping.