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.
Sautee the spinach and set aside.
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.
Pour half in a lightly oiled loaf pan. Place the spinach in the middle and top with the rest.
Bake at 350 for roughly an hour. Rest for 5 minutes and unmold.
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.
When you cut through the quinoa loaf, the spinach will show through its gorgeous green color.
Serve just like this.