ABOUT THE RECIPE:
When you need a tasty and satisfying vegan meatless loaf, this easy-to-prepare Really Yummy Pecan, Sunflower Seed, and Zucchini Loaf will truly please! It has quite a few steps, but is very tasty and well-worth the extra time.
Makes 4 servings
1 ½ cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds
1 cup pecan halves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups fresh bread crumbs (see note)
1/3 cup finely minced red onion
2 cups firmly packed grated zucchini
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
Line an 8- x 4-inch loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper, leaving 2 ½ -inch overhang on the two lengthwise sides of the pan. Put the sunflower seeds, pecans, Italian seasoning, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, in a blender and process into coarse crumbs. Put the sunflower seed mixture in a large bowl.
Add the bread crumbs, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, and the minced onion, and stir to combine. Add the grated zucchini and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add more olive oil, if needed, if the mixture seems dry.
Press the mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Fold the excess parchment paper over the top of the loaf and gently press down. This will keep the loaf moist while baking. If time allows, refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours to allow the loaf to firm up, before baking.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and carefully peel back the parchment paper covering the top of the loaf. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the loaf is slightly golden in color, firm to the touch, and heated through.
Put the pan on a wire rack and let cool 10 minutes. Turn the loaf onto a serving platter and carefully peel off the parchment paper. Let cool 5 to 10 minutes more. Cut the loaf into 8 slices, (it will be very soft!) using a serrated bread knife and wiping the knife clean after cutting each slice. Serve 2 slices per person, with Simple Mushroom Gravy (Recipe below).
Chef’s Note: Freshly made bread crumbs must be used in this recipe, as dry bread crumbs will not hold the loaf together. To make fresh bread crumbs, tear 4 to 6 slices of fresh, soft, whole-grain bread into chunks. Put one-half of the bread chunks in a blender and process (on low) into coarse crumbs. Continue in this way with the remaining bread chunks.
SIMPLE MUSHROOM GRAVY
Makes 6 servings
1 1/2 cups, plus 3 tablespoons water, plus more as needed
1/4 of a large sweet onion, diced
12 ounces white button mushrooms, diced
1 large vegan bouillon cube, crumbled
1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat flour, plus more as needed
Put 1 1/2 cups water, onion, mushrooms, and bouillon cube in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put the flour, and 3 tablespoons water in a jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake vigorously until smooth. Pouring the flour/water mixture into the simmering mushroom gravy in a steady stream, briskly whisking as you go, so the flour mixture does not become lumpy.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the gravy begins to thicken. Decrease the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until the gravy has cooked down and reaches the desired consistency. Serve hot.