You won't miss the meat in this vegetarian and gluten free hazlenut and cremini loaf, packed with flavor from sauteed veggies, herbs and a rich vegan gravy.
Last week, the USDA passed a disturbing new rule that has many food industry critics rightfully concerned. I try not to get too political on this blog, but I also think it's important to know where you food comes from. If I ate supermarket chicken, this is something I definitely would want to know about.
Current USDA policy dictates that four inspectors regulate each kill line, which slaughters 140 birds per minute. Before I tell you the new rule, think about our current policy for a minute. If you were an inspector at a chicken factory farm, you would be responsible for evaluating 35 birds every minute. That means you have less than 2 seconds too determine if a bird is fit for human consumption. Can you imagine your doctor evaluating your health in just 2 seconds?
By September 2014, the USDA will reduce the number of inspectors to one for every four lines. Plus, the kill lines will now run 25% faster to slaughter 175 birds per minute. Each inspector will now be responsible for a whopping 700 birds per minute!
So how will the inspectors manage this massive increase in workload? Inspectors can't reasonably be expected to examine 11.5 birds a second, right?? Of course not. Don't you worry, the USDA is one step ahead of you! Since studies indicate most supermarket chicken already contains deadly salmonella or camphylobacter, they're just going to go ahead and assume all chicken is contaminated. Inspectors will no longer visually inspect chicken for signs of sickness or contamination. Instead, the slaughterhouse will spray the chicken with a solution of water laced with chlorine and antibiotics because, you know, antibiotics aren't overused enough in agriculture.
Sorry if I've spoiled your appetite. Hopefully you weren't planning on chicken for dinner?
Maybe this vegetarian main will get your stomach rumbling again? I've experimented with a few veggie loafs this year, and every recipe I've tried has been fantastic. Vegetable loaves definitely qualify as vegetarian comfort food, especially when slathered in a rich, vegetarian gravy.
Cremini mushrooms are baby portobellos. They contain a substance called conjugated linolenic acid, or CLA. When isolated, this fatty acid has been shown to bind to the enzymes responsible for estrogen production, possibly reducing breast cancer risk. Normally, this substance is found in animal foods, which are associated with a higher risk of breast cancer, so cremini mushrooms are a nice vegetarian way to reap CLA's health benefits. Studies done with powdered cremini mushrooms indicate powerful anti-inflammatory benefits, even when compared to wild mushrooms.
Like all nuts, hazelnuts are high in healthy unsaturated fats. But hazelnuts have a few special health benefits of their own. Of all nuts, hazelnuts are richest in vitamin C and manganese, a trace mineral that allows your body to utilize nutrients such as vitamin C, biotin, and thiamin. Hazelnuts are also one of the highest fiber nuts, along with pistachios and pecans.
Leeks are in the allium family, along with garlic and onions. They look a bit like big green onions, but have a sweeter and milder taste. Less research has been conducted on leeks than it's allium cousins, but they do contain many of the same sulfur rich compounds, so it is safe to assume leeks have similar health benefits. Leeks also contain a powerful flavinoid called kaempferol, which helps protect blood vessels from free radical damage that leads to heart disease.
Hazelnut and Cremini Loaf
4 to 6
We served this with blanched green beans tossed with a lemon - dijon dressing sweetened with a bit of honey. Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cups hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 2 medium to large leeks, white and light green parts sliced
- 1 tsp thyme, minced
- 1 tsp rosemary, minced
- 4 eggs, preferably pastured eggs
- 1/2 cup organic milk, unsweetened plain soy milk or almond milk
- 1/2 cup brown rice, boiled and cooled (yields about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- zest from 1/2 lemon
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegan Onion Gravy:
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a large loaf pan with olive oil or line with parchment paper.
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium heat. Add the mushrooms, leeks, and garlic. Stir. Add thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until the mushrooms have released and reabsorbed their liquid. Remove from heat and let cool about 10 minutes.
- Mix eggs, milk, nutmeg, zest, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Stir in brown rice. Stir in the cooked nut and vegetable mixture. Pour this mixture into the loaf pan and bake about 45 minutes.
- Once cooked through, remove loaf from the oven and let cool about 10-15 minutes before slicing. Since the loaf is chunky, cut it into thick slices, otherwise it will fall apart.
- While loaf is baking, make the gravy. Heat olive oil in a small pot on medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until translucent. Add flour and stir to coat. Cook a couple minutes to take the raw edge off. Add soy sauce and stir to deglaze. Slowly pour in broth while whisking. Continue to whisk away all the clumps. Stir in nutritional yeast. Cook until thickened, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.