March 27, 2022

Vegan Recipe Review: Vegan "Meat" Loaf...?!

I feel like "Vegan Recipe Review" sounds better than Vegan Recipe Taste Test, so I'll switch that out from now on.

I wanted to do something a little more adventurous this week. I'm still not interested in trying the "weird" vegan foods (I hope it's obvious that I don't mean for that to be offensive!) like tempeh and tofu, seitan and  and stuff like that. (Maybe someday, but I'm keeping it simple right now.)

I chose this recipe because meatloaf is a very traditional dish--ground meat with some chopped veggies, herbs, and spices. Most of the vegan versions I've seen are made with lentils, and I've actually made a lentil loaf once before. I don't remember much about it, but I know that it wasn't a big hit with the family.

When I saw on Pinterest a vegan "meat" loaf made out of chickpeas, I thought it would be fun to try. And I happened to have all of the ingredients at home already! You can find the recipe at Running on Real Food.

There are a LOT of ingredients so it looks intimidating, but they are all simple things that you may already have at home: onions, celery, carrots, garlic, some common spices/herbs, oats, flaxseed, soy sauce, ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. (The last three are for the glaze.) There is an option to make it with nuts or with extra oats; I chose extra oats to save a bit on calories.

I can say the one thing that turned me off to this at first was that it was going to take up a lot of dishes--I always hate using so many dishes! Jerry and I have a deal that if I cook, he washes dishes; still, I feel bad using so many. But, I was excited to make this so I just let Jerry deal with it ;)  (He honestly doesn't mind and he's always telling me that, but it's just habit for me to use the fewest dishes possible.)

Anyway, first there was a lot of veggie chopping. Thankfully, I had celery leftover (like I said last week, I am not a celery person). I chopped up the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic and threw them in a pan to cook until soft while I prepped everything else. 

The mixture was a little dry and I didn't want to burn it, so I turned the heat down to low. When the veggies are soft, you add the spices. Adding these REALLY dried out the mixture and I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be like that, but I went with it.

While those were cooking, I got started with the food processor. You're supposed to put the oats and flaxseed in there and then blend until it's a fine powder. Well, I didn't read it carefully enough and I added the chickpeas in with the oats and flaxseed. Before I started mixing it, I realized my mistake and pulled the chickpeas out the best I could.

Once the oats and flaxseed turn into a flour, you add the chickpeas and pulse until they are chopped very fine but not totally pulverized. This took a while and a lot of scraping down the bowl, but it finally looked how I imagined it was supposed to. The problem was, the mixture was SO DRY. I kept feeling like I was missing something but I looked over the recipe again and again and I followed it perfectly.

When that was ready, I dumped the mixture into the veggie mixture and combined it all. It was very crumbly and dry, but I hoped that when I pressed it into the pan it would stick together better. Like last week, I had to line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Thanks for the tips on that, by the way! This time, I cut the strip smaller so that it only hung over the longer two sides (this is how the recipe specified).

I thought there was no way the entire mixture would fit in the loaf pan, but it did when I packed it down. I packed it pretty firmly.

Then I mixed the glaze: ketchup, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup. I usually just use ketchup for meatloaf, so I was a little nervous about adding the balsamic vinegar, but I always like to follow the actual recipe if I'm going to review it.

I poured that over the loaf and baked at 350 F for 60 minutes per the recipe. It smelled really good when it was cooking!

When it came time to take it out of the pan, I got nervous. I was expecting the whole thing to stick in there and then fall apart when tried removing it. You're supposed to let it cool for a while and the longer it cools, the better it holds together.

Fifteen minutes after taking it out of the oven, I used a knife to loosen the sides and attempted to remove it. It worked perfectly! It came out in one piece and it looked really good.

As far as the taste? I was very surprised shocked at how much I liked it! I figured it would be a "eh, it's okay" type recipe, but I really liked it and it's something I'd definitely eat again. Eli's girlfriend was over, so I brought them each a bite when it was done and asked them for their thoughts. Right away, they both said they really liked it. (I always tell my family to be brutally honest--it's not my recipe, and it won't offend me if they don't like it!). The fact that Eli liked it blew my mind. Jerry really liked it, too, and said he'd definitely eat it again. (Noah was at work.)

So, overall, this recipe was a success! I love meatloaf and ketchup, so I did add more ketchup while I was eating it, but that's normal for me. I made some of my crispy potato halves to go with it.

Again, you can find this recipe on Running on Real Food.


  1. You used wax paper, no parchment paper. Be careful, you're not supposed to put wax paper in the oven, it melts and can catch fire.

  2. Your "meat" loaf looks really good! I'll have to try the recipe and see if it makes good sandwiches too (that's my grading system for meatloaf). Thanks for sharing this one!


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