Classic Vegetarian Nut Loaf
1 onion, medium chopped
1 tablespoon butter or oil
2 cups finely-chopped mushrooms (See Recipe Note)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried sage
Red wine or sherry
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups walnuts, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
1 cup cashews or almonds, finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor
1 cup cottage cheese
3/4 pound grated cheese: Parmesan, Gruyere, cheddar, fontina, smoked or any combination
1/2 cup mixed fresh chopped herbs such as parsley, oregano, thyme
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sauté the onion in oil or butter until it begins to soften. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms release their juices and become soft. Add the garlic and dried herbs, and continue to cook. When the pan begins to dry out again, add a good splash of red wine or sherry and cook until it is reduced. The contents should be moist but not swimming in liquid. Remove from the heat and let cool a little.
While the mushroom mixture cools, butter or oil a 9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper or foil.
In a large bowl, toss the brown rice and nuts together. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the cottage cheese. Add the egg mixture to the rice/nut mixture, then stir in the cooled mushrooms, grated cheese and fresh herbs. Mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust. (If you're worried about the raw egg, you can fry up a little patty to taste.)
The mixture can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator at this point for no more than a day.
Fill the loaf pan with the nut mixture, rap a few times on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles and smooth the top with a spatula. Decorate with slices of mushrooms, slices of bell pepper, or whole walnuts if desired. Place loaf pan on a baking tray.
Bake for about an hour or until the loaf is firm (slightly longer if the mixture was refrigerated). Remove from the oven. Rest on a cooling rack for ten minutes, then lift the loaf from the pan using the excess parchment paper or foil. Peel off the parchment or foil and serve on a platter, garnished with fresh herbs.
Serve with a mushroom gravy, accompanied by your favorite autumn vegetables.