Thanksgiving Quinoa Loaf: Soy-Free Vegan Turkey Alternative

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​Holy crap, this thing is delicious. And unlike some wheat gluten- and soy-based turkey stand-ins, it's unequivocally good for you.

The vegetable flavors harmonize lusciously, and the quinoa, chickpeas, and walnuts give it a nice protein lift -- without soy. Whatever you do, don't skip the sun-dried tomatoes! They give the dish an absolutely necessary zing.

You'll need a blender or food processor and an eight-inch loaf pan for preparation. Prep time: 40 minutes. Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Adapted from a Whole Foods recipe.

1 tbsp. olive oil plus more for greasing (or use cooking spray)
1 15-oz. can chickpeas
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup water
2 cups cooked quinoa (prepare according to package)
1 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup walnuts
1 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
10 roughly chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in jars with oil)
8 oz. chopped mushrooms
Salt, pepper, paprika, sage, and/or any other savory spices you favor


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly grease eight-inch loaf pan.
3. Put oil and chopped mushrooms in a large sauté pan and allow to cook for about seven minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4. Process chickpeas, water, and oats in the blender or food processor.
5. Combine chickpea mixture, mushrooms, quinoa, parsley or cilantro, peas, walnuts, onion, and sun-dried tomatoes in a large mixing bowl, and spice to taste. (A perk of making a vegan "meat" loaf: You can taste the batter without fear of E. coli. And it actually tastes good!)

6. Pour and spoon the mixture into the greased loaf pan, mounding in the middle.

7. Put on center rack of oven and bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. (I took advantage of the fact that the oven was on and threw some butternut squash in to bake as well. If you do this, up the baking time by five to ten minutes.)

8. Remove and let stand at least ten minutes before slicing and serving.

The loaf keeps in the fridge for a while and tastes amazing when smeared with a dollop of hummus. I recommend doubling the batch; you'll be eager to share this unique loaf with health foodies and health food skeptics alike.

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