When we were eleven and thirteen Sharon and I stopped eating beef and pork, but Mom figured out a way to keep making meatloaf by substituting ground turkey for the meatloaf mix and turkey bacon for pork. We all agreed it was just as good, if not better (in our humble opinion).
When I was in my early twenty’s coming home from college or visiting from England Mom would indulge me, planning every single meal I requested for each day of my visit. Anything my little heart desired, from waffles and chocolate chip cookies to lamb stew and lasagna, she would make it. My choices varied slightly from year to year, but mom’s turkey meatloaf always made the short list of comforting, home-cooked meals.
When Andy and I got married, I started making it myself, and my British husband quickly fell for this American classic. But now that we’re eating less meat, I hadn’t made meatloaf in years. But a few weeks ago, I came across this recipe for a veggie loaf on Foodie Fiasco and was intrigued. I wondered if one of my childhood favorites could be made vegetarian. I sent the link to Mom and (not surprisingly) she worked her magic. We had this recipe down in one go.
This new meatless loaf looks like meatloaf, smells like meatloaf, and tastes almost exactly like meatloaf. Bulgur and oats mimic the consistency of meatloaf surprisingly well, and this loaf has all the familiar flavorings we love, including that irresistible ketchup-y glaze. Sure I still want the real deal now and then, but here’s a main course made with whole grains and tons of flavor. There are so many recipes for which there is no substitute for meat. Ironically, meatloaf isn’t one of them.
Mom’s Meatloaf Made Meatless
Strict vegetarians can use vegetarian Worcestershire sauce. Serve meatloaf with extra ketchup if you like.
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup red miso paste
1 cup each: bulgur and old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups (about 8 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup kefir or buttermilk
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons each: brown sugar and cider vinegar
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring broth and miso to boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix bulgur and oats in a medium bowl. Pour boiling broth over bulgur mixture; cover and let stand until broth is completely absorbed, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic; sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add to bulgur mixture, along with spinach, crackers, and parsley. In a separate small bowl, mix eggs, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, kefir, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add to bulgur mixture; mix thoroughly to combine.
Place mixture on a foil-lined wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Form into a loaf. Mix ketchup, sugar, and vinegar; brush top with about 1/3 of the mixture and reserve remaining ketchup mixture for dipping.
Bake until firm, about 1 hour. Remove from oven and let stand 15 minutes. Slice and serve.