Tuesday, November 10, 2009
My Kinda Meat Loaf with Baked Mac and Cheeze and Winter Salad Saute
I realize this is on the longish side, but there are three recipes to cover. Stick with me!
Like most vegans, I'm always on the lookout for the next great mac and cheese or chz or cheeze or however-you-prefer-to-spell-it recipe, so I'm somewhat surprised I was the first of my fellow bloggers to try the Baked Mac and Cheeze (p222). First of all, I want to let you know that the extreme yellow color you're seeing is primarily due to the fact that I used quinoa pasta, which is very bright yellow once it's cooked. This is one of the faster mac and cheese recipes I've tried. While the pasta is boiling you can easily put the sauce together, and with nutritional yeast, yellow mustard, paprika, and turmeric combined with the other ingredients, you get a rich-colored and deep-flavored sauce. Mix it all in a casserole dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs and it's ready for the oven. It gets nice and bubbly, and if you're anything like me, you get a little bubbly with excitement upon pulling it out of the oven. But I have to say it's not my most favorite I've had, but neither is it my least favorite. It's a solid, nice and creamy baked mac and cheese. I may have overdone it on the mustard a tad, as I was tasting a bit too much for my liking (and I LOVE mustard of any kind). Also keep in mind I'm more of a stovetop/creamy, less baked and bread-crumbed mac and cheese lover. Much like music, mac and cheese among vegans is truly a personal taste thing, so I would suggest trying this one for yourself and seeing how you like it. I do plan to make it again as it's extremely easy and made from pantry staples, but probably with just a few personal tweaks.
So what's the brown lumpy thing on the plate you ask? Well it's My Kinda Meat Loaf (p294) of course. I didn't grow up eating meat loaf very often, in fact, I don't really remember eating it all as a kid, but I do know it's the much-maligned "joke dish" from the 50s. However, I do love a good vegan meat loaf and similar to the mac and cheese quest, I have tried a number of recipes. In my experience, it is ALWAYS better the next day, so with that in mind I made this a day ahead and reheated prior to serving. This is another easy, pantry-staple recipe. The foundation is tofu, vital wheat gluten, and oatmeal. There's also a bit of tahini in this one. One thing that I loved about it is that it's not a "ketchup-y" meat loaf. There's ketchup in the mix, but there's none of this "slather it all over the top before and after you bake it" business, which I appreciate. I'm not a big fan of ketchup anyway, but I prefer my meat loaf to be less sweet more savory, and that requires a good gravy. Several posts have mentioned the Mushroom Sauce (p546), and this was a repeat for me as well. Again, I used baby bellas as I find all other mushrooms to be vile, and this is a wonderful gravy with a multitude of uses, including the perfect topping for meat loaf. That said, the meat loaf was good. Not mind-blowing, but good. Here again I have to say it's not my favorite, but not my least. I will note possible user error here and admit that I likely overmixed it, which Robin warns about in the instructions. So like you were told in school, follow directions!
Finally, and so I didn't feel entirely guilty about the contents of this meal, I added the Winter Salad Saute (p381). I was skeptical at first because the idea of warm lettuce and cucumbers isn't immediately appealing to me. But during the summer I hosted a pizza party at which a friend included cucumbers on a falafel pizza, which quickly got rid of my skepticism about warm cukes. This salad is marked with an F for fast, and it is. Make sure you've got all your veggies washed, chopped, and ready to go as thing move quickly and you do not want overcooked lettuce and cucumbers. I liked this salad, but I can't say I loved it. The addition of fresh parsley really perks it up, but I think I'd like to taste some other herbs or spices in there as well. Perhaps basil or cilantro. I may play around with this one again. It's especially handy if you've got some salad veggies that are a bit past their time for eating raw but you don't want to waste them.
While I may seem a bit not-in-love with this meal as a whole, I should note that both Mr. V and Grandma V were big fans. Perhaps it's a factor of the cook being critical of her own cooking, so I suggest you try these recipes and not fear making them your own. You're also welcome to invite me over and I'll be happy to taste test for comparative purposes.
--The Divine Miss V