I once lived in a big, pale-green commune of sorts, where vegetarian was how you cooked, if you cooked at all. (Raw food was the other way most people ate.) The best meals were communal, and one recipe I loved for its fabulous flavor was this sherried mushroom-walnut loaf—delicious hot with gravy and veg, and just as good cold, sliced as an elegant paté. Several moves later, I missed the recipe enough to recreate it for my family. A mix of sherry-steeped baby bella (crimini) mushrooms, onions, brown rice, and walnuts baked into a loaf with sage and parsley, this is a moist and meaty meal. Top it with mushroom gravy made with more mushrooms, onion, sherry, and stock, and serve it with some mashed potatoes and garlic spinach on the side.
FOR THE LOAF:
• 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 12 oz crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, chopped fine (OR substitute button mushrooms – just do not used canned.)
• 2 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
• 1/2 cup medium dry sherry
• Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste
• 5 or 6 dried sage leaves
• 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1-1/2 cups moist cooked brown rice
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup (or 1 cup, if you like the finished loaf crunchier) finely chopped toasted walnuts OR pecans
• 3/4 cup toasted wheat germ
• 1 cup oat bran
• 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
FOR THE MUSHROOM GRAVY:
• 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
• 6 ounces crimini mushrooms, finely chopped
• 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
• 1/3 cup medium-dry sherry
• 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups good-quality vegetable stock
• Salt & freshly-ground pepper to taste
Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with coconut oil spray or vegetable oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper with lengthwise strips and width-wise strips, leaving overhang all the way around the pan. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, warm oil until shimmering. Add mushrooms and onions. Cook, stirring, for five to 10 minutes until vegetables are mostly softened. Add . cup water and continue cooking until onions are very soft and transparent and there is little liquid left in the pan. Add 1/2 cup sherry and stir for three minutes to cook off alcohol. Continue cooking until about 1/2 of the sherry has been absorbed into the mix.
Season to taste with salt and freshly-ground pepper
Stir in the parsley; crush the sage and stir in. Cook for two more minutes. Remove from heat. In a large mixing bowl, combine mushroom mixture with cooked brown rice, chopped walnuts, wheat germ and oat bran. Stir in eggs and mustard. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press mixture into prepared loaf pan. Cover surface of loaf with parchment paper overhangs; then tightly cover loaf pan with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake for five more minutes. Remove from oven when finished and let rest. Unfold parchment and use the overhanging bits to lift the loaf from the pan.
While loaf bakes, make gravy. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and mushroom until very soft and most of the cooking liquid has been absorbed. Add 1/3 cup sherry and sauté for two more minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl. Melt butter or coconut oil in skillet; whisk in flour and toast until slightly browned; whisk in vegetable stock until thickened into a nice gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold mushroom mixture back into skillet and stir with the gravy. Keep warm.
When ready to serve, invert mushroom walnut loaf on to a serving platter. Slice. Serve piping hot with mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and garlic spinach, or, cool and slice to serve as a vegetarian pate.