The cheap (non)meat-loaf generator

I made meatloaf a handful of times in college, but always with cheap ground beef (which I mostly detest), so I could never get around the fact that it tasted just like a hamburger you cut into slices. I remember watching my mom make meatballs out of ground beef. Her meatballs were pretty good, and so was her meatloaf (more or less the same as her meatballs). I guess I just never wanted to make a good loaf enough to invest some thought and consideration into making it more delicious.

Then I went through my vegetarian stint, and started experimenting more with plant proteins. The okara vegetarian burgers from a previous post reflect that. I soon learned that there are many foods – beans, eggplant, mushroom – that can supply that umami flavor, protein, and satisfactory filling feeling just as well as meat.

So, when I came across this Vegan Dinner Loaf Generator, I knew I’d have to give meatloaf a second try. It’s simple, really: choose the ingredients you have on hand, click submit, and follow the recipe. If you don’t have a loaf pan or an oven, make the mixture into patties or a pancake and let them cook in a covered pan.

Here’s the link to the loaf generator.

And here’s a loaf I created with commonly available Japanese ingredients in mind. I added in a few modification options (not all are vegan or vegetarian)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup ground white sesame seeds
2 TB olive oil
One onion, diced
One cup mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 cups cooked soy beans, mashed firm tofu, or canned tuna
1 cup cooked brown rice or barley
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable broth, as needed
2 TB flour (potato, soy, rice, or regular wheat)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 TB soy sauce

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350º F/`180ºC. Lightly grease a loaf pan or 20x20cm baking pan and set aside (a 20×20 pan makes a crisper loaf). Alternatively, line the pan with silicon-coated baking paper.

Place the ground sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Sauté any vegetables you’ve chosen in the olive oil until soft. Add to the large mixing bowl along with all the remaining ingredients. Mix and mash together well, adding only as much liquid as needed to create a soft, moist loaf that holds together and is not runny (you may not need to add any liquid if the grains and protein are very moist). Add more binder/carbohydrate as needed if the loaf seems too wet.

Press mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cooked through.

Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate or platter and slice. Serve with potatoes, vegetables, and vegetarian gravy, if desired.

Cold leftover slices could make a great bento filler, or re-fry in a pan for a delicious breakfast hash.

Enjoy!

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