Entrees / Vegetarian / What's For Dinner

Vegetarian Leaf Loaf

vegetarian leaf loaf

We all want to be “the picture of health.” We try crazy diets that call for no carbs, no sugars, no fat, low-fat, high fiber, you name it. Whatever is the “in” trend, we’re there to give it a go.  If we were to look at ourselves, chasing this image of health and beauty, we might find we look not too different from those hamsters running circles on those little wheels. Except we’re maybe a bit more stylish in our modern exercise gear, downing gallons of water with the best of them, pushing ourselves to move that needle on the scale just a few marks lower. I know, I’ve been there. While I’ve never been obsessed with my weight, I am a woman so it kinda comes with the territory that we all just want to keep looking the way we did at our best, like when we were 15, or 25, or God forbid, 30. My latest obsession is actually with just being healthy after seeing how quickly my father deteriorated this past year. There’s nothing like seeing a relative knocking on Heaven’s door once or twice to get you to pay more attention to your own condition.  I come from some hearty stock, but no one is invincible, so my awareness meter sounds off pretty regularly when I know I’ve indulged a bit too far and it’s time to get back on track. And yet, I know I come from some pretty unrelenting genes when I take a close look at the two people who made me, and witness longevity in the form of togetherness and relationship, 60 years this June to be exact. No amount of calorie counting can take credit for that.  Love, devotion, commitment. That’s what makes the world go round.

But just in case you want some added reassurance that life can actually get better as we age, here’s a unique recipe that I probably never would have dreamed of when I was looking good at 25. I don’t even think the words eggplant and kale were in my vocabulary then. But I’m glad they are now. This is the moist and savory “meatloaf” your middle-aged heart and stomach has been searching for.  No hamster wheels, no cayenne and honey water tonics, just tasty vegetables with a little pizzazz.  You won’t even have to pull out the stretchy pants after eating this one.

Vegetarian Leaf Loaf

Yield: 5 servings

Ingredients

  • For the loaf:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 8 oz crimini mushrooms, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 large eggplant (about 1#), peeled and diced small
  • 1 small bunch lacinato kale, stems removed and chopped small
  • 4 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 large cloves garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons whole grain garlic mustard
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 large sprigs fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • For the balsamic tomato topping:
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh basil, torn

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add first two tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Let oil warm for a few seconds before adding onion. Saute onions for about 3 minutes or until soft and slightly brown.
  3. Next, add in mushrooms and 1 teaspoon salt and saute about 10 minutes or until mushrooms release their juice and brown.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and add in eggplant, kale, soy sauce and garlic and continue to lightly saute for another 5-7 minutes or until eggplant is soft and kale has wilted.
  5. Turn off heat and pour mixture into a large bowl. Add garlic mustard, panko, basil, oregano, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper and eggs. Mix until well combined.
  6. Lightly spray a small bread pan with cooking spray and pour in mixture, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and form the mixture into a small loaf. Bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf develops a golden crust.
  7. In the same skillet use to make the loaf, add remaining 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and allow to warm for a few seconds before adding the onion. Lightly saute for 1-2 minutes. Add in diced tomatoes and saute until just barely softened. Season with balsamic, salt and torn basil. Spoon over finished loaf.
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vegetarian leaf loaf

vegetarian leaf loaf

vegetarian leaf loaf

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