vegan chickpea loaf


When you commit to the vegetarian and mostly/sometimes vegan life, everyone tells you there are certain things you'll always miss, certain food staples you'll never be able to replicate. In a lot of ways, I wholeheartedly disagree with that. In others, I thought, sure, maybe you're right. Though I did recently have some melty vegan cheese that made me nearly reform this way of thinking.

Still, classic comfort food recipes have to be adapted, modified and veganized. And there's always that moment of hesitation when I pull a new recipe out of the oven or turn the burner on low and wonder: will this be any good?

Sometimes there are flops, sure. It's part of how we learn. But this particular take on a classic meatloaf that is completely meatless and eggless is everything I wanted it to be.

For this recipe, you'll need:

For the loaf:

3 1/2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed*
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the glaze:

1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of salt

*The cans of organic chickpeas that I get are 15 ounces each, so you'll need a little less than two cans. Save the extras to put on top of a salad or in a smoothie (you won't taste it, promise!) for a little extra protein boost.

Start by preheating your oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 inch loaf pan. I suggest also lining the pan with parchment that hangs out over the sides so that you can easily remove the loaf when it's out of the oven. (See above.)

Working in batches, pulse all of your loaf ingredients in a food processor fitted with the S-blade. Pulse until chopped but not liquified as a little texture is what makes this recipe really sing. After each batch, add to a large bowl and fold together. Press into your prepared pan and transfer to the oven for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, whip up the glaze. I don't know about you, but all of the traditional meatloaf I've ever had was covered in an inch-thick layer of ketchup. Don't get me wrong, ketchup is my everything, but I don't think it's ever meant to be the star of the show. It's a really solid backup dancer that you notice and think, wow, okay. But the second it starts headlining in Vegas or being the full flavor profile of your dinner, something has gone wrong.

But anyway, this glaze is kind of the grown-up take on ketchup. If you're lacking an ingredient or two, a nice smokey barbecue sauce or, of course, ketchup are solid stand-ins.

In a small bowl, whisk together all your glaze ingredients until smooth. After 30 minutes have passed, get your loaf out of the oven and evenly spoon the glaze over the top (a rubber spatula is good for this). Transfer back to the oven for another 20-25 minutes.

Allow to cool out of pan for at least ten minutes before serving. The longer it sits, the firmer it gets/easier it is to cut. But if you're hungry now, slightly crumbly chickpea loaf will have to do.

Long live the chickpea!