Brown rice, nut and cheese loaf

Brown rice, nut and cheese loaf 010

So how’s this vegetarian thing working out for you during Lent, you might ask? More importantly, how’s it working out for The Carnivore, King Daddy?

I just have one word to say: Seconds.

I have given up meat three days a week for Lent. I got kind of a slow start, as far as inspiration goes. Which is why I did not post the “recipe” for Brussels sprouts with brown rice or the one for thin spaghetti with butter and Parmesan cheese. That’s what I had the first two days. King Daddy was all set the first week because I made him beef short ribs and chili. But this week, I’ve gotten my sea legs and King Daddy was so shamed by my selfless acts of carnivore kindness that he offered this: “Uh, I’ll try your vegetarian food.” A ringing endorsement and I took it!

Rattling around in my head (a dry and dusty place, at times) was a recipe I’d made, oh, 30 years ago for Nut and Cheese Loaf, created by Deborah Madison of Greens Restaurant, a vegetarian joint that’s still going strong in San Francisco after 34 years. By the way, sadly many vegetarian restaurants bite the dust in Nashville because it is incomprehensible to us that a meal would not include bacon, country ham or fried chicken. We feel as though someone’s trying to pull a fast one on us. We have Meat n’ Threes. That’s meat and three sides. Nobody ever just orders the sides unless they’re coming down with the flu.

But I digress. So I fiddled with the original recipe a bit because basically what we’re talking about here is a meatloaf without the meat and who follows an exact recipe for meatloaf?  The original recipe calls for walnuts and cashews, but I had walnuts and hazelnuts. The hazelnuts worked fine and I can successfully report that you can buy hazelnuts while on a trip to visit your great friend Mary Ann, bring them home, freeze them for almost two years and they’ll still be just fine.

So back to King Daddy. He eyed the loaf warily when it came out of the oven. I cut him a big old fat slab of it and threw a sauteed chicken breast on the plate as a peace and love offering. He cleaned his plate and asked for seconds.

Brown rice, cheese and loaf  (Inspired by Deborah Madison, The Green’s Cookbook)

1-1/2 cups walnuts

1/2 cup hazelnuts

2 cups cooked brown rice (frozen rice you can cook in the microwave is the way to go here)

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped fine

1/2 ounce dried chanterelle mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, then drained and chopped

1 tablespoons dried parsley

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon dried sage

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

4 large eggs, beaten

9-12 ounces of grated cheese, any kinds that go together (I used Swiss and gruyere)

1 cup cottage cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Butter a loaf pan and line the bottom of the pan with waxed or parchment paper, then butter it again.

Toast walnuts and cashews on a baking sheet until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Let cool. Chop in a food processor until fine.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms, dried mushroom, garlic and herbs. Saute until the mushrooms are  browned and any liquid has evaporated.  Let cool.  Stir in the cooked rice, nuts, eggs, cheese, and the cottage cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes until the top is golden brown and firm to the touch.  Let the loaf cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate, peeling off the waxed paper and turning the top back up.

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