So I hate calling a meatless meatloaf a veggie meatloaf.
Because in my head, it’s not packed with vegetables or meat, making it neither of those things. How bout that?
So I just call it a loaf and then precede it with whatever is in it. I find it to be the cleanest way. It’s also a way of avoiding eye rolls when you tell meat eaters this is what you’re serving. They then feel appeased.
This loaf has taken a few attempts. When I cut meat out of my diet to reinvigorate my cooking style, I was developing a few different loafs for this website and settled on my Maple Chickpea Loaf.
Now that was a good few years ago and after a few different versions and some reader feedback, I think it’s time I offer a brand new take on a loaf. So here I offer you my Maple Chickpea Loaf’s older sister.
I say older sister because this version actually began life before the maple version however was stopped in it’s process when I found myself not having the energy to make a BBQ sauce. I’ve since shed any preconceived shame about using bottled BBQ sauce and have now settled on a loaf I’m very happy with.
Now the key to any meatless loaf, in my opinion, is to let the loaf sit. Letting the loaf rest after baking allows it to toughen a little, giving you a more satisfying slice, so that it doesn’t all crumble up and turn into a glorified stuffing before you (as someone once rudely referred to one of my collapsing loaves… you know who you are…)
So my suggestion is, if you are serving this for a Sunday roast, make it in advance of everything else and let it rest while everything cooks. The resting time is not just essential, but it also gives you a load off your mind knowing the loaf is done and you don’t have to wrangle any more hot pans when you’re trying to time everything else right!
And yes, hate to say it, but a food processor is kind of essential here. You could slice everything up if you wanted and then mash the chickpeas but… y’know… I’m lazy. But rest assured more or less everything is done in a processor here, so you only have to wash it once!
P.S. in this picture, the top of the meatloaf isn’t burnt… it’s BBQ sauce… hear me out…
So preheat an oven to 200c.
In a food processor, blitz two or three stale slices of bread to a cup of breadcrumbs. If you don’t have stale bread, gently toast the slices and let them cool first. Empty these breadcrumbs into a big bowl.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and throw an onion into the food processor along with a carrot and two cloves of garlic. Blast them to a heady scented rubble and throw into the hot oil.
Salt the pan mix and add a little mustard powder and oregano and cook until the onion starts to lose it’s raw edge and turns a silver. Empty this into the bowl of breadcrumbs.
In the food processor, take a handful of dried apricots and pulse them into chunks. Throw them into the bowl.
In the processor, pour in two drained cans of chickpeas and blitz them to a scruffy mix, scraping down the edges of the processor now and then so that all the chickpeas get slashed up. Pour the chickpeas into the bowl.
Now to this bowl add some salt, pepper, a little olive oil, a teaspoon of tomato puree and then a good three or four tablespoons of good BBQ sauce. This will bring an acidic smoke to the loaf as well as keep it packed with moisture.
Add some black pepper and stir everything up so that it all comes together as a tough but sticky dough like mix.
Now line a standard loaf tin with baking parchment and big spoonful by big spoonful, pack the mixture into the loaf tin, press down with each spoonful so that it spreads and fills the tin evenly. You want the mix to be as tight and compact as possible because this will help with slicing it later – the looser and crumblier the mixture the harder it will be to cut!
Slide the loaf into the oven for 30 minutes before removing and slathering a little more BBQ sauce over the top of the loaf. Spread out as best as possible before slinging back in the oven for a further 15/20 minutes.
Carefully remove the pan and as mentioned in the foreword, leave to rest. After about 20 minutes of resting time, lure the loaf out of it’s tin and leave to cool for a further 20 minutes on a cooling rack.
Once cooled, but still with the warm cuddle of the oven on it, slice with a serrated knife. I find the serrated knife is so much easier as it’s not a blunt object mashing down on the loaf. It will be fragile, it doesn’t contain meat, but the longer you rest the firmer it will be.