Monday, May 12, 2014

Carrot-Mushroom Loaf

I suppose I should save this for ThrowBack Thursday but I decided it belonged with all the Meatless Monday recipes. :-) This recipe is from the original Moosewood Cookbook, a classic of vegetarian cooking. I went to college in the Finger Lakes and the Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York was already well-known for its vegetarian cuisine back in the early 1980's . It actually took me until 2011 to enjoy a meal there but it still feels like the fern bars of the 80's, where you sit among the potted plants and enjoy a lovely quiche.

The mushrooms in this loaf give it umami, that meaty savory flavor. Mushrooms are a rich natural source of glutamates (the "G" in MSG), which explains why a grilled portobello mushroom tastes surprisingly like meat. The carrots provide some texture and a bit of sweetness. The eggs, cheese, and bread crumbs bind it all together. It's delicious served mashed potatoes or some fruit chutney.

Carrot-Mushroom Loaf
(serves 6, costs $8.25)

non-stick cooking spray
½ stick butter or 4 Tablespoons oil (butter definitely tastes better in this)
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound white mushrooms, chopped (a food processor does a good job)
4 ½ cups grated carrots (about 1 ¾ pounds)
5 large eggs
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (about 1 ½ to 2 slices bread)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a loaf pan (8"x3" or 9"x4") with non-stick cooking spray to grease. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a large skillet. When melted, add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms release their liquid and most of that cooks off. Add the carrots, stir well, and remove from the heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the carrot-mushroom mixture. Add ½ of the bread crumbs and ½ the cheese, the salt, pepper, and dried thyme. Mix to combine and pour into the loaf pan. Spread the rest of the crumbs and cheese on top and spray with non-stick cooking spray - this helps the top brown.

Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Increase the oven to 400°F, remove the foil, and bake for 10 more minutes to crisp up the top. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, Ten Speed Press, 1977.

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