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Mushroom Walnut Roast

by Chef Ken Charney, Vegetarians of Washington Monthly Dining Event Chef. Recipe from The Bold Vegetarian Chef, published by John Wiley & Sons

Walnuts, tofu and oats make for a familiar yet distinctive taste that resembles a traditional meatloaf. Like meatloaf, this tastes great hot or cold. Serve with mashed potatoes and a vegetable and top with your favorite gravy or sauce.

Serves 6 to 8

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
1⁄2 cup rolled oats (regular or quick)
4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps thinly sliced
2 cups vegetable broth or water
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons nonalcoholic red wine or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 package (14 -16 ounces) firm tofu, pressed of excess water, crumbled
3 tablespoons arrowroot powder
1 to 1-1⁄2 cups dried whole-wheat or white breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan and set aside. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1-1⁄2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Set aside in large bowl. In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the walnuts, oats and mushrooms. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are tender. Add a splash of broth or water if the ingredients stick too much. Stir in a small amount of broth, turn up the heat, and deglaze the pan (scraping the pan bottom to loosen the stuck-on bits of food). Add the remaining broth and cook for 10 minutes. Add the mustard, tomato paste, red wine, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to cook until the mixture is thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the bowl with the onions and set aside. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Place the tofu and arrowroot in a food processor and puree until smooth. Add to the onion mixture and stir in enough breadcrumbs to make a thick paste. Mix well. Pour into the prepared loaf pan. Press down firmly to pack the mixture into the pan. Bake for 40 minutes. For optimal results, let the loaf cool for 2 hours before slicing it, or make it a day ahead and reheat.

Chef's Tip: For a perfect crispy top, place an additional pan of water in the oven while you bake the loaf