Vegan Diner Dinner

Here's one for the "meat heads" among us. As a girl who was raised by a hunter dad, and a mom who loved to cook, I totally understand the yearning for a good old fashioned meat-n-potatoes meal now and then. I began to see the subtle wish for this in Rick the other night, when I made Bean-Wah Burgers, and mused out loud about how I though the burger-stuff would also make a good meat loaf. His little eyes lit up, and I heard him mumble, through a mouth full of bean-burger, something that sounded like... graaaaavy... mashed potaaaaaaay-tos... mmmmm...

I got the hint, and the very next night set out to make a big ol' plate of comfort food for my man. The Bean-Wah mix this time was a little different from the one I shared here back on February 22nd. This time I used pinto beans instead of black beans, mixed quinoa and rice, and added grated carrot and chopped walnuts. Here's the whole list of ingredients:

1 can pinto beans -- mashed
1 "blop" refried beans (about 1/4 can)
cooked quinoa, cooked brown rice, uncooked oatmeal -- about 1/2 cup or more each, until the mix feels like good burger/meat loaf consistency.
potato starch -- about 3 tablespoons
1 or 2 grated carrots
chopped walnuts -- 1/2 cup or more
nutritional yeast -- 1/2 cup-ish
salt, pepper, onion powder, Spike, and ketchup to taste

Mush it all together with your hands, and taste it for seasoning. It's OK! There's no dead stuff in there! I'm sorry for the inexact measurements. You know what it should look and feel like. You'll be fine. At this point, either make burger patties and fry them up, or stuff the whole shebang into a loaf pan, cover the top with ketchup for old-school authenticity, and bake it at 350ยบ or so, for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how thick it is. Remember, you can't undercook it because it's not meat.

To go with, I made mashed potatoes with veggie broth, garlic, basil, vegan "butter", a little tamari and nutritional yeast, plus salt and pepper, of course. I also made a big pile of green beans -- frozen, French-cut, again, for retro-authenticity -- and seasoned them with a little vegan butter, garlic powder, and smoked paprika, to mimic the bacon my Mom would always lace green beans with.

The topper, literally, and deliciously, was a rich mushroom gravy. Make it the same way you make meat gravy, but use a mix of olive oil and vegan butter for starters. I sauteed minced onion and chopped mushrooms, and then added a couple of spoonfuls of oat flour to make a roux, before adding veggie broth, and seasoning with a splash of wine, a little tamari, lots of pepper, and the Secret Yum Ingredient, a couple of good sprinkles of truffle salt, which rounded it out and gave it a lovely earthy richness. If you don't have truffle salt, don't worry. It will still be wonderful.

This meal was all the things comfort food should be -- warm and mushy and delicious -- without a trace of guilt. It made Rick very happy. Ok... I liked it too.


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