Friday, November 12, 2010

Mini Mushroom Loafs with Tomato Basil Dressing


Featured Ingredient: Mushrooms

Redolent of the earth they sprout from, mushrooms are one fungi that should be on more dinner plates. A spate of research suggests mushrooms have a wide array of cancer-fighting and immune-supporting compounds including polysaccharides such as beta-glucan. And you don’t have to splurge on the exotic varieties to get many of these benefits. Dice up a bunch of lowly white mushrooms and you’ll still reap an immune boost.

A big benefit in the battle of the bulge is that mushrooms add meaty texture to dishes for very few calories. Use them as I did in the recipe below in replace of some (or all!) of the meat in soups, meatloafs, stir-fry’s and burgers as researchers in the journal Appetite reported that this swap can reduce daily energy and fat intake with little effect on overall appetite.

Read more about the benefits of various mushrooms in this article I wrote for Natural Solutions magazing

These mini loafs look and have a mouthfeel that would suggest they are loaded with beef. But alas, they are blissfully vegetarian friendly and really tasty. My girlfriend hates meatloaf but was a serious fan of these. You need a lot of mushrooms and there will be some serious chopping, but its so worth it. Keep the mushroom caps in a bag in the freezer along with other vegetable trimmings to use for homemade veggie stock. You can’t go wrong with a simple tomato basil sauce. Use any extra on pasta or freeze for later use.

Mini Mushroom Faux Meatloaf with Tomato Basil Sauce

Adapted from Macheesmo

Mushroom loafs:
2 lbs. mushrooms, chopped (I used a mixture of button and cremini)
3 shallots, diced
2 tsp dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chili garlic sauce (find it in the Asian section of the grocer)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin seed (or 1 tsp cumin powder)
8 plum tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil
¼ tsp chili powder or cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan or skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, shallots and thyme.

Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the mushrooms have reduced in size by more than half, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in eggs, garlic, bread crumbs, soy sauce, masala, chili garlic sauce, salt and pepper. 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Divide mushroom mixture among 12 greased muffin cups. Cook for 20 minutes, or until darkened on top and set. Let cool before unmolding.

As mushrooms cook, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin seed and cook 1 minute. In a blender or food processor, process tomatoes, basil, chili, salt and pepper until smooth. Add tomato mixture to skillet and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve mini mushroom loafs topped with tomato sauce.

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