Sunday, January 30, 2011

Versatile Vegan Loaf

I used to consider it weird and borderline glutenous that I would contemplate dinner 5 seconds after finishing off the last bite of breakfast. "There are so many other important life things that need attending to until 6:00pm, and all you can think about it more food?"

Cafe Gratitude, San Francisco. Not tonight's dinner.

Then I quickly learned there's nothing like completing 3 Sodokus, riding a luxury yacht for 2 hours and picking my pimples out my favorite picture of James Dean that will make you really appreciate a well-planned dinner. After all that, a girl is exhausted and wants some good eats. And besides, it's no secret that food is pretty essential to the act of living for all things living. Might as well make it delicious. Bam, justified.

@ home. Tonight's dinner.
We had this for dinner tonight, something I only started thinking about, oh, last night. But it was later last night, you know like 9 pm. I need an adequate amount of time to prepare a 4-slot meal.

Right now, I'm only going to share this guy:

This kid's the good kid. We're talking straight A's. It's not thick and bold and brassy - it tends to be more simple, classy and a little naiive. This loaf won't meet you at the 18th hole for some burrs and wings; it will meet you at your aunt's garden party. It's easy to love, hard to dislike, and looks about 15 thousand times better in realty than in the picture above.

Stay tuned the next few days to get the scoop on the rest of the dish. We have one kid down, but you have yet to learn about the rest of the family.

Vegan Loaf with Quinoa, Tofu and Veggies
makes one 9x5 loaf

*Wild! -  This truly is a flexible recipe. Stick with the tofu/oats structure and then add in whatever veggies you desire. If you’re not on the vegan train, I think cheese would be an excellent addition as well. Mix it in with all the other ingredients before you pack it in the loaf pan, so it gets all gooey and cozy with the other friends in there.

½ package of extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
½ cup quick-cooking oats (if you have Celiac disease, make sure they are gluten-free. I use Bob’s Red Mill, which is one of the few brands that is gluten-free.)
1 cup cooked quinoa (keenwah!) 
½ cup spaghetti sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup broccoli florets
small handful of dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease up your loaf pan.

1. First, if you don’t have 3 large Tupperwares of leftover quinoa in your fridge, come over and swipe some from me. Or you could take the really bumpy road and prepare yours yourself.

2. Put the tofu, lemon juice, olive oil and oats in a processor or blender and pulse until it resembles a ricotta-like texture; you might need to scrape down the sides a few times with a spatula.

You're tofu/oat mixture should look pasty, like this:

3. Using a spatula, scrape out the tofu/oat mixture and place in a large mixing bowl; add in quinoa and stir it all together so the quinoa is all covered.

4. Add in the spaghetti sauce and your desired amount of salt and pepper; stir it all again.

5. Finally, throw in the broccoli and cranberries (and any other wild veggies you choose) and mix one last time.

6. Scrape the mix in to the loaf pan and pop into the oven. Cooking time is about 40-50 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and crispy. Cool this guy for about 15 minutes if you want loaf-ish slice; dive right in if you want a more crumbly, casserole-esque experience.

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