Meatless Loaf with Sweet & Sour Sauce

We all need a go-to meatless loaf to serve up with some mash on a cold Sunday evening.  This is a perfectly spiced millet and cowpea loaf that can shine alone – or that you can jazz up with a generous helping of sweet and sour sauce.  To cut down on make time, it helps to have the grains and beans pre-cooked ahead of time.  Not only does it avoid a zillion pots in dishes the day you’re making the loaf, the cold ingredients will actually have better “stick-togetherness”, making the loaf hold together more easily.

For the sauce, the sweetener and souring ingredients are given in a range depending on taste and health-consciousness.  When making it just for me, I go with the minimum sweet and maximum sour.  When it’s for my partner, it’s max sweet and full sour.  So play with it until you get what you like.

As usual, all the ingredients used are unsalted, so the salt is dosed accordingly.  If you’re using salted tomatoes and/or beans and/or spice blends, then reduce the suggested tamari or salt accordingly – starting with half the amount suggested and ramping up to taste.

Yield: 1 loaf and 1-3/4 cups of sauce, roughly 8 servings

What you need for the loaf:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 a green pepper, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups cooked millet, or a combination of half-and-half cooked buckwheat and millet (I like the combo better)
  • 2 cups cooked cowpeas or lentils
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste
  • 1 cup walnuts, ground
  • 2 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted chili powder (the tex mex stuff)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted cajun spice
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional but recommended)

What you need for the sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 rib celery, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsalted tomato paste
  • 2 cups unsalted crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco or Sriracha (optional, if you like some heat)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (optional, for more sour)

What you do for the sauce:

For optimum sauce texture and taste, start it before you move on to making the loaf.

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium flame.  Add the onion and celery and sauté until soft.  Add the garlic and stir a couple of time.
  2. Add the tomato paste and cook, mixing with the garlic, onions and celery; stirring constantly until it darkens a shade or two.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar and Tabasco and bring to a low simmer.  Let simmer between 45 minutes and an hour, uncovered, until thickened and reduced.  Reduce the heat to low, to keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. About 5 minutes before serving, mix in the sherry vinegar and apple cider vinegar if using.  Taste and adjust the levels of sweet, sour and hot to suit your taste.  Let the tastes blend a few more minutes before use.

What you do for the loaf:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and prep a 9”x5” loaf pan.  If using a silicone pan, just leave it as is.  If using a glass or metal pan, lining it with a piece of parchment will make removal possible should you so desire.
  2. Heat a cast iron frying pan or a skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil and when hot, sauté the onion, pepper and celery until soft.  If needed, lower the heat to prevent the onion from browning.  Add the garlic and sauté another minute or two, until fragrant.  Turn of heat and set aside.
  3. While the onion is cooking, put the cooked millet (and buckwheat if using) in a large bowl along with the cooked beans.  Use a potato masher to lightly mash everything together.  The grains should be getting sticky and most of the beans crushed with some still remaining whole.
  4. Add all the other loaf ingredients and spices, including the sautéed veggies once ready, and mix together well.  Press tightly into the loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.                    DSCN1165
  5. Remove from the oven, let the loaf rest at room temperature 10-15 minutes and then remove from the pan, slice and serve with a generous ladleful of Sweet & Sour Sauce.

 

 

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