As the seasons begin to change in certain parts of the world, the weather gets colder and we begin to crave heartier meals. Even though I live in the Caribbean now, something about September signals a switch to more comforting and belly-warming foods. I guess you can take the girl out of New York but you can’t take the New York out of the girl. That was definitely a factor in the making of this recipe.
When my sister and I were in our early twenties, we both started cooking and experimenting a lot more. We grew up eating mostly Trini creole food. However, when we moved in together after college, we would try out things that weren’t staples in our childhood home. One of the recipes my sister perfected was meatloaf. I was never really a fan of meat in a loaf or balls, but every now and again, I’d indulge in my sister’s bacon wrapped meatloaf and it was tasty.
A few Sundays ago, I had a strange hankering for that meatloaf. Now you know, I’m plant-based. So, I turned to a plant-based staple, beans. Red and black beans give a very savory flavor that can be seasoned to give a meatier taste which really works in this recipe.
This dish is not only soul satisfying, but just the right level of satiation one expects from a Sunday lunch.
2 cans of kidney (red) beans
1 can of black beans
1 large clove of garlic
1/2 green bell pepper
1 small onion
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)/ your fave nut OR dry oats
Five spice powder
Badia’s Sazon/ Trini green seasoning
Liquid aminos/ Tamari/ Soy sauce
Apple cider vinegar
Pepper sauce/ hot sauce (optional)
Prep is a must
As I always say, drain and rinse your beans thoroughly. We want to wash off as much excess salt or whatever else is in the liquid they’re packaged in as possible. We’re doing this because we want to control the sodium levels in our food. You can do this more effectively by using precooked dry beans — I’m lazy, don’t judge me.
Once the beans are rinsed and drained, put them in your food processor and pulse until almost smooth, you want to leave a few beans whole for texture. Set them aside and we’re going to chop up our onions, garlic and peppers in a fine dice and grate our carrot OR drop ’em in the food processor and pulse until fine.
Get the chopped veg in a small pan with a drizzle of oil and saute until the onions are translucent, I like to add a bit of paprika at this point, but it’s completely optional. Set aside.
In a traditional meatloaf, one would use egg and breadcrumbs to bind. With this bean loaf, I like to use seed or nut crumbs, but you can use vegan breadcrumbs or dry oats if you prefer. In the food processor, we’re going to add our seeds and a mix of paprika, garlic powder and a little Sazon and blitz until fine. You can use less or more than half a cup based on how much liquid you have in your beans. I use this to bind and reduce excess moisture in the beans. I don’t use a vegan egg substitute here because I honestly don’t think it’s necessary, but if you feel you need extra binding, make a flax egg. Simply warm a little bit of water and then add a tablespoon or two of ground flaxseed, let sit for five minutes until it thickens to the consistency of an egg.
Once we’ve prepped all of our ingredients, in a large bowl add your beans, a splash of liquid aminos, Sazon or Trini green seasoning, two small squirts of ketchup, pepper sauce, and a little bit of all of your dried seasonings. Combine with a spoon until everything is well incorporated.
Grease a small loaf tin with vegan butter, oil or nonstick spray.
Take your mixture and neatly pack it into your tin and put in the oven at 230° Celsius (450° Fahrenheit) for 15 minutes or until the top starts crisp.
While our loaf starts to loaf up, we’re going to mix our basting sauce.
In a small bowl, combine liquid aminos, a splash of liquid smoke, a small bit of apple cider vinegar, a splash of agave and ketchup, thoroughly. Give it a boost with a little garlic powder, mustard powder (optional), paprika. Once, the loaf top starts to crisp, we baste it with a thick layer of this homemade BBQ sauce and return it to the oven until the sauce is sticky and delicious.
Serve with any comfort food you love. This would be great along side a vegan mac and cheese, a baked potato or potato hash and/ or a nice salad. The depth of flavor and unctuousness is moreish.
P.s. unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of this gorgeous dish before demolishing it.