Sunday, March 21, 2010

vegan mushroom and walnut loaf

gluten-free homestyle cooking

A few years ago Marty and I lived a fast-paced life in Southern California. We ate out for both lunch and dinner at least 5 days a week. On the odd days we didn't eat in a restaurant we either ate leftovers from a restaurant or I threw some pre-made meal in the microwave from Trader Joe's. Cooking was very rare in our home. 

Then we moved, to a small town with a sub-standard selection of restaurants and no Trader Joe's in the entire state. Two months later we became vegans. Not only did those two things force me to learn how to cook but I also had to learn how to cook from scratch, since there wasn't vegan Hamburger Helper.

In the beginning, I lamented having to make everything myself and considered it time-consuming tedium. As the months passed, however, the monotony of chopping piles of colorful vegetables became meditative, preparing healthy and delicious meals was a joyful experience that no longer felt like a chore and I had a humble satisfaction over being able to bake a delicious homemade cake to share with the people I love. I had turned into an insatiable student wanting to learn more about food and nutrition every day and none of this would have happened if we hadn't moved to this little town or become vegans. What a wonderful gift in disguise!

In those early days I  focused on replacing what we erroneously thought we had "lost" (we later realized those losses were actually benefits) and that meant re-creating familiar comfort foods, like macaroni and cheese or meatloaf. That is how this mushroom and walnut loaf was born. While we no longer feel the need to have vegan replicas of non-vegan food, this loaf remains rather dear to me. It was the first successful vegan recipe I ever created and it's also one of a handful of recipes that I make again and again

This loaf has gone through many modifications over the years but the recipe below is the latest and greatest. While it is delicious by itself, we prefer to eat it with marinara on top.

Mushroom and Walnut Loaf
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms (8-10 mushrooms)
  • 2 cups chopped onion (2 small)
  • 1 cup chopped celery stalks (3-4 stalks)
  • 4 slices bread *
  • 1 1/4 cup oats, divided (I think quick cook works best for this)
  • 7 ounces extra firm tofu (1/2 package)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Kroger brand is vegan!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke 
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon browning liquid (optional)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crumbled sage (if using ground, decrease slightly)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in large saute pan.  Add mushrooms, onions, and celery and saute until soft and all liquid has cooked out.
  3. Meanwhile, pulse bread slices in food processor until crumbly.  Transfer to large bowl.
  4. Blend 1/2 cup oats in food processor until it's flour.  Add to large bowl with bread along with remaining 3/4 cup unblended oats.
  5. Add remaining ingredients to food processor and blend until creamy.
  6. When vegetables are cooked, add them to the large bowl (with bread and oats) along with the tofu mixture.
  7. Mix thoroughly.  Scoop into a greased loaf pan a little at a time and pack down tightly with back of spoon to make sure there are no big air bubbles.  Sprinkle extra oats on top if ya want.
  8. Bake for 60 minutes.  Let cool on counter for at least 20 minutes before slicing, otherwise it'll just fall apart and make a huge mess.
*I use 4 slices Food for Life gluten-free bread.


  1. Ooooh the first few lines and I'm in love with your blog already.

    You write well hon. I love how you added a personal touch to it!

    So glad you're back!!!

  2. Aww Denny, you're so sweet. I love ya girl!

  3. Crystal, this loaf sounded so tasty that I had to make it immediately. Didn't have celery or enough walnuts, but I couldn't wait!
    Here are my mods to your recipe: increase mushrooms and onions to make five cups total, sub mixed nuts for walnuts, add 1 t Tabasco sauce. I also had to add 3 T plain soy milk to the tofu mixture so that I could use my blender.
    It's baking now, and it smells so delicious! Are you sure I have to wait 20 minutes?!

  4. I must admit, I've always shied away from savory/meat-y "loaf" type meals, but this one sounds pretty good! If I had to have a nut loaf, this is definitely the one I'd pick. (Trust me, this is very high praise in my eyes!) :)