Quinoa 104: American Comfort Food – Quinoa Wild Mushroom Spinach Loaf with Cashew Gravy

Nothing says American comfort food like a thick slice of meat loaf served over mashed potatoes with gravy. This incredible alternative takes advantage of the high protein content OF quinoa to create a rich version with wild mushrooms and spinach.

So you have been cooking quinoa. Quinoa with this, quinoa with that, quinoa stuffed whatever, and quinoa baked with anything. There is a somewhat high probability that indeed, you have quinoa leftovers in lovely containers lining your colorful (hopefully) refrigerator. So do right now.

Like most people in my generation, we grew up with meat.And nothing defines comfort food better than a thick slice of meat loaf over mashed potatoes loaded with gravy. It’s mom, it’s home and it’s nostalgic. However, it also, well, includes meat. So given that quinoa is essentially a complete protein, wouldn’t it make sense to attempt a reconstruction of this staple in the American diet with this little nutritional powerhouse? My oven or yours.

I love flavor. We eat food because it tastes good, it looks good, it smells good, it makes us feel good and lastly (perhaps?) because of nutritional content. The problem with some dishes that bring us psychological comfort, make us feel like crap after. Food should make us feel good, give us energy, make us happy during and after digestion. This dish achieves both: nostalgic comfort and nutritional nirvana.

In crafting vegan dishes, pack on the flavor. Bam, à la Emeril.  I started with this recipe from Whole Foods and decided to make it sexier and more aromatic by adding spices, made it exotic by substituting wild mushrooms (I also had leftovers from the quinoa wild mushroom risotto), made it pretty by adding a spinach middle and creamier by using cannellini beans.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces wild mushrooms, finely diced
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
  • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme

Heat the onion in a pan and caramelize the onions for 10 minutes. Add garlic cook for a few, then add mushrooms and cook until tender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Wild mushrooms with caramelized onions and garlic

Sautee the spinach and set aside.

Sauteed spinach lightly seasoned

In a food processor, combine the beans, oats, sun-dried tomatoes, cumin, paprika, mustard, salt, pepper and pulse until a homogenous paste that is deliciously sticky is formed. Toss in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients (minus the spinach). And yes, any quinoa will work, but the red goes gorgeous with the sun-dried tomato color.

Mixing the thyme and parsley into the quinoa and oat mixture creates a gorgeous rust color and texture

Pour half in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Place the spinach in the middle and top with the rest.

Spinach in the center of the loaf creates a color and texture contrast

Bake at 350 for roughly an hour. Rest for 5 minutes and unmold.

Unmolded loaf in a green plate

Need my groovy cashew mushroom gravy?

  • 2 cups hot water (you can also use low sodium veggie stock)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces mushrooms roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoon nutritional food yeast

Put only one cup of water and all ingredients in a blender. Go for it. Add the rest of the water and blend again.

Sautee the mushrooms until cooked, roughly 7 minutes. Deglace with white wine and reduce slightly. Pour the cashew mixture, the thyme, allowing the gravy to boil.

Sophisticated mushroom gravy. For added richness, add a couple of drops of white truffle oil

When you cut through the quinoa loaf, the spinach will show through its gorgeous green color.

Two thick slices resting on each other

Serve just like this.

With a dollop of the mushroom gravy, this makes the perfect comfort food

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When your family loves hummus, screw around with it: white truffle white bean hummus with mushrooms ...

About this site

VeganGoodEats.com is a compilation of my favorite recipes and experiences. Erasing the stereotype that we eat rabbit food, I hope that the site inspires you to live a cruelty-free life. There is enough to live peacefully and indulgently.

About Joel Luks

Intellectually curious arts advocate. Design junkie & blogger. Creative nutty vegan chef loving all ethnic foods in a quest to ensure vegan food is seen as delicious, varied, and yes, sometimes, indulgent. Classical flutist & sucker for rhythmic music.

I work for CultureMap.com, a Houston-based lifestyle digital magazine, where I report on food, arts, society and city life, produce videos and curate an events guide.

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