Mushroom Nut Loaf with Mushroom Port Gravy

image        For this Thanksgiving I definitely wanted to make my Mushroom Port Gravy so the question was what to make besides the usual mashed potatoes to serve with it? Yes, most people decide on the main dish first but I love this gravy so the main had to be a compliment to the gravy!
I haven’t made a vegetarian loaf in ages so decided to try a mushroom nut loaf to stay with the mushroom theme. It really is fun to be a vegetarian because there are so many options for holiday main dishes! I used brown rice in this one but I would like to try it with quinoa, too. For the nuts I went with walnuts and cashews, my personal favorites but almonds would be good instead of cashews. This is one of those recipes that is VERY flexible so feel free to adapt it to your preferences. This one is vegetarian but not vegan though you could find vegan subs for the dairy.
The nut loaf is really good by itself but the gravy takes it to the next level and even the meat eaters gobbled (ha ha) it up! It might seem like lots of ingredients but a food processor can be used for everything so there is little chopping👍 I make the gravy first (the day before is fine) so the flavors have time to develop.  I have recently discovered dried mushroom powder which definitely ups the umami flavor in dishes, so I used some of that in the gravy, too.  I got it on Amazon, but if you don’t have any, it will still be delicious!

RECIPE FOR MUSHROOM PORT GRAVY (makes about 2 1/2 – 3 cups gravy)

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz  fresh cremini (or white) mushrooms
  • 2 oz  dried shitake mushrooms (about 6 – 8 dried mushrooms)
  • 1 shallot or small white onion
  • 1 – 2 cloves garlic (optional)
  • 3 – 4 TBSP flour (can use rice flour for gluten-free gravy)
  • 2 cups mushroom “water” (see recipe)
  • 1/4 cup port or red wine
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped thyme
  • 2 tsp dried mushroom powder (optional)

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Finely dice the shallot and garlic.
  3. Wipe the mushrooms with a clean cloth and using a food processor chop until finely diced.
  4. In large pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft.
  5. Add the diced fresh mushrooms to the pan and continue to cook on low heat for about 10 minutes until mushrooms are well cooked.
  6. Add flour to the pan and mix until until flour is completely blended into the mixture.
  7. Slowly add the Port or wine and deglaze the pan, constantly stirring with a spoon or whisk. image
  8. Stain the dried mushrooms into a bowl through cheesecloth to remove any small bits or dirt.  Pour the mushroom “water” slowly into the pan with the other ingredients, stirring constantly.  Keep heat on very low as you continue to stir until the gravy thickens.
  9. Chop the soaked dried mushrooms into very small pieces and add to the gravy.
  10. Add freshly chopped thyme (or you can use dried thyme) and salt and pepper to taste.
  11. At this point it can be done but if you want less mushroom chunks you can use an immersion blender to make it smoother.  You will need to pour the gravy into a saucepan BEFORE you try this so it doesn’t fly all over the kitchen!  You could also put it back into a food processor or a blender if you want very smooth gravy.
  12. If it isn’t thick enough you can add a little flour (the brand Wondra is made to go straight into a sauce/gravy without creating any lumps – learned that trick from my mother 🙂image

RECIPE for MUSHROOM NUT LOAF (makes 2 small loaf pans or one regular 5″ x 9″ pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, finely diced in a food processor or by hand
  • 1 – 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped mushrooms, you can use a food processor
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs (about 2 slices of slightly stale bread, pulsed in food processor to make crumbs
  • 2 carrots, washed and grated
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in warm water for 15 minute, then finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup raw cashews or almonds, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped in a food process
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup organic cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp each: thyme, oregano, sage, marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1 TBSP Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup red wine or sherry
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Cook the rice and let cool.  You will need about 2 cups cooked rice.  Set aside.image
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until everything is soft and mushrooms release their juices, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add wine or sherry and cook another 5 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked rice, bread crumbs and the chopped nuts. Add the  dried herbs and grated carrots and mix well.image
  5. In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs and add the cottage cheese.  Mix well until eggs are blended into the cottage cheese.  Add the freshly chopped parsley and stir.image
  6. Add the cooked mushroom mixture to the rice/nuts and mix well.  Fold in the egg mixture and stir it until everything is well blended. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Prepare the loaf pans by spraying with cooking oil and laying parchment paper across the full length of the loaf pan so the edges hang over a bit.  This will make it easy to remove your loaf  after it is cooked.  Spray the parchment paper and ends of the pan again with the cooking spray.image
  8. Scoop the mixture into the pan(s) pushing it down firmly to make sure there are no air pockets.  You can mound it slightly at the top.  If you want you can add a few walnut halves on top for decoration.image
  9. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes for small loaf pans and 1 hour for a large pan.  Stick a knife in the center to see if it is done.  It should not be sticky in center.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool a bit before removing and slicing.
  11. Serve with the Mushroom Port Gravy and garnish with fresh parsley.

This is a really great vegetarian main dish for the holidays and you may not even miss the turkey! 🙂

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