Vegetable loaf

Vegetable loaf


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Here is a dish that would make a wonderful and substantial centrepiece for a vegetarian dinner. Blanched spinach leaves encase the beans, brown rice and vegetables that make this tasty loaf.

Lynn Cole

Serves: 8 

  • 1 1/4 cups mixed dried beans
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 2 cloves
  • Bouquet garni
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2/3 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1/4 each large red and green capsicum, seeded
  • 1/2 bunch very large fresh spinach leaves, washed and trimmed
  • 1/2 bunch watercress, trimmed, washed and chopped
  • 6 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, halved and toasted
  • 45g butter
  • 1/3 cup plain flour
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Beetroot slices and salad leaves, to garnish (optional)

Preparation:1hour  ›  Cook:2hours30min  ›  Ready in:3hours30min 

  1. The Beans:
  2. Cover the beans generously with cold water and stand overnight. Next day, drain and rinse the soaked beans and put them in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into a colander, rinse under cold water and return to the saucepan.
  3. Cover with fresh cold water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 1–1 1/2 hours, or until tender. Pour into a colander and drain well.
  4. Meanwhile, put the milk, cloves and bouquet garni in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and leave the liquid to infuse until it is required.
  5. The Rice & Vegetables:
  6. Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the brown rice, reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 25–30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed.
  7. Cut the carrot lengthways into slices about 5 mm thick, then cut the slices in half lengthways. Cut the red and green capsicum into long strips. Boil the strips of carrot and capsicum for 2 minutes, then pour into a colander, rinse under cold water and drain well on paper towels.
  8. Preparing the Loaf Tin:
  9. Butter a 23 x 12 x 6 cm loaf tin. Line the bottom of the tin with baking paper and butter it well.
  10. Blanch the spinach leaves for 20 seconds in a large saucepan of boiling water, then pour them carefully into a colander and rinse well under cold water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
  11. Line the base and sides of the prepared loaf tin with all but three of the leaves. Arrange the carrot and capsicum strips attractively on top of the leaves in the bottom of the tin.
  12. The Loaf:
  13. Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a large bowl, mix the beans with the rice, watercress, spring onions, parsley and almonds and season the mixture well.
  14. Strain the infused milk into a jug. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk and bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  15. Remove the thickened milk from the heat, season to taste with nutmeg and beat in the eggs. Pour this mixture over the beans and other ingredients and mix well.
  16. Carefully spoon the mixture into the tin, smooth the top and cover it completely with the remaining spinach leaves. Cover the tin with buttered foil and stand it in a roasting pan filled with boiling water to halfway up the sides of the loaf tin.
  17. Cook the loaf in the centre of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until firmly set. Remove the tin from the oven and allow the loaf to cool a little before weighting.
  18. Weighting:
  19. Remove the foil and cover the tin with plastic wrap. Put a small board on top and place some heavy weights on the board. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
  20. The next day, remove the weights, the board and the plastic wrap. With your hand, gently loosen the loaf by easing it away from the sides of the tin. Place a flat serving plate on top of the tin and, holding the tin and plate firmly together, invert them. As you do this, the loaf should come cleanly away from the tin onto the plate.
  21. To Serve:
  22. Cut the loaf in slices and garnish with beetroot slices and salad leaves, if desired. You can serve the sliced loaf with a mixed salad and fresh crusty bread.

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