Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable: an all-American, middle class supper. I grew up eating it. I ate meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day. My mom’s meatloaf never let me down…except for the part where its made with meat. That is something I just can’t get behind, which is why I love to make vegan Meatless Loaf.
It took years of eating and cooking vegan, before I mastered the meatless loaf. Lentil versions don’t do it for me. I like a tofu-based loaf with lots of savory flavors added and plenty of ketchup on top. One of my early (and poorly photographed) recipes was for Tofu Loaf. It’s a solid recipe, which I highly recommend trying, despite the lackluster photos in the post. Later I veganized a meatloaf sandwich recipe from The Food Network. It’s a slightly different take on my first tofu loaf.
My Meatless Loaf recipe is my third successful, vegan version of the meatloaf I grew up with. The mushrooms blend into the tofu, loading it with mellow, umami flavor, but without being a mushroomy. The combination of panko and oats holds the loaf together while keeping it light. The fine, but slightly uneven, texture of the vegetables chopped in the food processor is excellent for making the perfect loaf. It also saves tons of time, since it takes just a few seconds to pulse each batch of veg. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Next time I make it, I’m doubling the recipe and throwing one in the freezer, so I can eat Meatless Loaf at the drop of a hat.
I served this loaf with mashed russets and sweet potatoes and a side of steamed green beans. The girls and Steve were all too happy to eat this for supper and for lunch the next day (just like I did as a kid). Steve’s omnivorous co-workers even told him his lunch looked good when he took leftovers for lunch. I’d say that’s a ringing endorsement. So start mashing tofu and chopping vegetables and make a Meatless Loaf of your own.
- 2-14 ounce blocks firm or extra firm tofu, drained
- 1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup Braggs liquid aminos (or tamari)
- 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 cup whole oats
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- about 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1. Place the tofu in a large mixing bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to smash the tofu.
- 2. Place the onion, carrot, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add to the tofu.
- 3. Add the mushrooms to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add to the tofu and other vegetables.
- 4. Add the tomato paste, Braggs, mustard seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper to the tofu and vegetables. Stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined.
- 5. Stir in the panko, nutritional yeast, and oats. Press firmly in the bowl and set aside. Rest for 15-30 minutes.
- 6. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 2-3 quart casserole dish with the oil. Form the tofu into a loaf in the casserole dish.
- 7. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake another hour. Tent the loaf with aluminum foil (do not cover tightly) and make 2 more hours.
- 8. Spread a generous layer of ketchup over the top of the loaf. Return to the oven, uncovered, and bake a final 15 minutes.
- 9. Rest about 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
- The loaf will spread and expand some, while baking. Resting the tofu mixture, before baking, helps. If you want a very even, loaf shape, prepare the mixture a day in advance. Refrigerate overnight. Rest at room temperature about an hour, prior to forming the loaf and baking according to steps 7 and 8.
- Do not use cooking spray in place of the oil for the pan. The loaf will stick, without a generous coating of oil, whether using a metal, glass, or ceramic baking dish. There is no added fat in the loaf itself, so don't try to cut calories by skipping the oil.