Tender Vegan Meatloaf with Greens and Potatoes

Tender vegan meatloaf with greens and roasted potatoes from Savor + Harvest (with Karl).

In case ya’ll didn’t know, I’m originally from the South, even though I call Maine home now. And, in the South, we love our meatloaf! Well, maybe that’s kind of an assumption, but I still believe that we Southerners have an affinity for this particular dish. Therefore, over the past few years, I’ve been seeking to create the perfect, totally tender vegan meatloaf served alongside some classic Southern sides like slow-cooked greens and potatoes.

Of course, my obsession began very early in life with my grandmother Shuggie’s meatloaf recipe. It was literally THE BEST! I would go over to her house to spend the night every couple of weeks, and she would whip up some of my favorite recipes, and her classic meatloaf was absolutely at the top of my list. Where other meatloaves I’d tried were too firm and dry, hers was tender, moist, savory, and just perfect. Furthermore, she was able to achieve the ideal balance of acidity and sweetness in her tomato-based sauce topping. She would also always serve her meatloaf with mouthwatering mashed potatoes and collared greens or green beans. Talk about the ultimate comfort food!

Why make this deliciously tender vegan meatloaf with potatoes and greens?

When I became vegan, I wanted to figure out a way to make the ultimate plant-based version of Shuggie’s recipe. After dozens of attempts to capture the perfect flavor and texture, I finally arrived at a winner. It incorporates a combination of four key ingredients: mushrooms, black beans, walnuts, and quinoa. Simple right? They create a wonderfully meaty texture, and a flavor that is nearly indistinguishable from a traditional meatloaf.

Ingredients for tender vegan meatloaf with potatoes and greens laid out on a board - from Savor + Harvest (with Karl).

Additionally, I wanted to capture those classic sides in this full-dinner recipe, but modernize them a little bit, and make it easy to incorporate your home grown veggies into them.

First, let’s talk about the greens. I used a combination of collared greens and kale for this recipe. This is largely because they have slightly different flavors, which are quite complementary of each other. Kale has a darker, earthier flavor where collared greens are brighter and slightly bitter. They are also both substantial and fibrous, which means they will hold up well and absorb delicious flavors as they simmer. Note: the kale in the picture is our first harvest from this year’s aeroponic garden!

And the potatoes? Shuggie might disagree with my decision to replace her mashed potatoes with roasted baby potatoes. However, I have a good reason. These baby roasted potatoes are like little buttery potato pillows! Plus, their texture works fabulously with the whole tender vegan meatloaf meal roundup!

Ready for some good ol’ Southern comfort food?

How to make S+H tender vegan meatloaf:

Pre-cooked quinoa.

The first thing you’ll need to do is assemble the mixture that will go on to become your meatloaf.

Start out with some previously cooked quinoa. I like using tri-color quinoa because I truly believe that different colors of quinoa grains have slightly different flavors. The darker the grain, the earthier the taste. The lighter the grain, the smoother the taste. Thus, you’ll want your meatloaf to have both those earthy and buttery undertones that come with using all shades of quinoa.

Also, make sure that you don’t overcook your quinoa. It’s there to add both flavor and texture, so you’ll want to make sure it still has some bite to it.

Ingredients in a food processor.
GIF of ingredients in the food processor.

Next, you’ll want to add a can of black beans, a clove of garlic, some beautiful shiitake mushrooms, a flax egg, and walnuts to a food processor along with your quinoa. The walnuts are used to impart a meaty consistency to the mixture. The flax egg is added as a binder to hold all the components together, just as a regular egg would.

Finally, add your salt and pepper and process all those ingredients until your mixture is well-combined but not completely broken down. You should still be able to see some pieces of quinoa, bean, and walnut, but everything should still hold together like a dough.

Meatloaf mixture after food processing.

Now, let’s talk quickly about the format of this meatloaf. Remember what I said about getting that perfectly tender and moist consistency like Shuggie’s recipe? I chose not to form this into one large loaf because, during testing, the outside tended to dry out, while the inside cooked well. So instead, I’ve formed the meat mixture into smaller mini-meatloaves. They cook more evenly and maintain their moisture better.

Therefore, form the mixture into patties. Pro chef tip: oil your hands lightly to prevent the sticky mixture from glopping all over your hands as you form the meatloaves. Take a quarter of the mixture, and begin to form it into a medium-sized mounds. You’ll want them to be thicker and rounder than a hamburger patties.

Forming the patties for the tender vegan meatloaf from Savor + Harvest (with Karl).

GIF of forming meatloaf patties.

Make four patties, and place them into a greased, round glass baking dish.

Patties in a baking pan.

How to make the meatloaf topping:

Next, you’re going to quickly whip up your meatloaf topping. It’s super simple, and really effective!

To make it, sauté half a white onion until it just begins to brown.

Sauteed onions for the meatloaf topping.

Then add in your favorite barbecue sauce and just a dash of ground cumin. Heat all this up until it thins out slightly. Remove from the heat and spoon it over the top of the meatloaves before placing them into the oven to bake.

Topping for the tender vegan meatloaf from Savor + Harvest with Karl
Meatloaf patties ready to bake.

Then, pop that meatloaf into the oven to bake for just half an hour.

How to make the potatoes:

For the sides, you’ll want to start out with the potatoes. Wash the baby potatoes and check the sizes. Try to get the smallest potatoes you can find at the store. The ones I used for this recipe were very small and consistently sized, but not all baby potatoes are the same. If your potatoes are larger, or if you have a few ginormous ones mixed in with smaller ones, you’ll want to cut those in half before cooking. Mine were all small, so I chose not to cut them. Leaving the skin on will keep the insides of the potato super moist and seal in all the good potato-y flavor! YUM!

Grease a rectangular glass baking dish with some olive oil, and pour your potatoes in. Add a little more olive oil on top of the potatoes to help them brown. Then, toss in some nooch (otherwise known as nutritional yeast), salt and pepper to your liking, a little bit of fresh or dried thyme, and some fresh or dried rosemary sprigs. Toss the potatoes with the herbs and olive oil to coat them thoroughly.

Finally, get those in the oven! They’ll cook at the same temp and for just a tiny bit longer than the meatloaf, so you can put them in there together. You’ll know that the potatoes are finished when they are golden brown, the skin is slightly crinkly, and they are very fork-tender.

Potatoes.
Potatoes in the oven.

How to make the greens:

Next, we turn to those greens!

Collared Greens in the salad spinner.

We’re going to cook them in a super-savory broth spiced with a bit of red pepper and lemon zest! What’s really important here is that we don’t overcook them, because no one likes mushy greens. So, when those taters and meatloaf are about 15-20 minutes from coming out of the oven, get some water or broth boiling in a large skillet. I like using Better Than Bouillon’s Organic Vegetable Base specifically for cooking southern-style beans and greens because it imbibes that perfect umami-rich southern flavor into whatever you’re cooking.

Once the broth is boiling, pop the greens into it along with a small drizzle of olive oil for richness, roasted red pepper flakes for spice, a pinch of lemon zest for lightness, and salt and pepper to your liking.

Collared greens simmering.

Keep in mind that as the greens wilt, they will cook down and lose some of that bright green color. Don’t worry! This is normal and doesn’t mean you’ve overcooked them. Let them simmer away while the meatloaf and potatoes finish cooking and resting. You’ll know the greens are done when the leaves are tender but still slightly firm.

Finished cooked greens for the tender vegan meatloaf from Savor + Harvest with Karl.

Final Steps and Plating

After the meatloaf and potatoes have been in the oven for half an hour, take the meatloaf out and let it rest for about five to ten minutes. Why, you ask? Have you ever taken cookies out of the oven and immediately tried to serve them? Have you noticed that they’re still soft, so you have to let them cool down a bit so they’ll firm up? Well, this meatloaf is exactly the same. It will be a bit soft when you take it out of the oven, so set it aside on a cooling rack and let it rest while your potatoes cook another five to ten minutes.

Cooked vegan meatloaf.

Then, take the potatoes out. Toss them one more time to make sure the seasonings are evenly distributed, and off the heat on the greens.

Carefully lift a mini-meatloaf onto your chosen plate and surround it with all those delicious southern sides!

And, voila! You just made a tender vegan meatloaf with roasted potatoes and greens that Shuggie would be proud of! Bravo!

Tender vegan meatloaf from Savor + Harvest with Karl served at the table.
Tender vegan meatloaf from Savor + Harvest (with Karl)

Tender Vegan Meatloaf with Roasted Potatoes and Greens

A delicious, simple, and plant-based take on classic Southern meatloaf, along with classic comfort sides!
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Southern, Comfort Food, Vegan
Keyword: Gluten-free, Vegan, Meatloaf, Southern food, Comfort classics, Greens, Potatoes
Servings: 4
Calories: 682kcal
Author: LM

Equipment

  • Food processor or blender

Ingredients

For the meatloaf:

  • 1 15 oz. can black beans (no seasonings!)
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked and room temperature
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 5 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup barbeque sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the roasted potatoes:

  • 1.5 lb. bag baby potatoes *choose a thin-skinned potato variety like Yukon Gold or Red
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. thyme fresh or dried
  • 2 tsp. rosemary fresh or dried
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the slow-cooked greens:

  • 2 cups collared greens roughly chopped
  • 1 cup kale roughly chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or bouillon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°.

For the meatloaf:

  • Make a flax egg by combining the flaxseed meal, tapioca starch, and water in a small bowl. Stir until all ingredients are totally combined. Set aside for 5 minutes until flax egg is thickened.
  • Combine flax egg, olive oil, beans, mushrooms, walnuts, quinoa, garlic, and salt and pepper in a food processor. Proccess until thoroughly mixed but not totally pureed. The mixture should resemble ground meat.
  • Using quarters of the mixture, form into patties that are larger and rounder than hamburger patties.
  • Place patties in a greased, round glass baking dish.
  • Make the meatloaf topping by sautéing onion until just beginning to brown. Pour in barbeque sauce and cumin, stir, and heat until just simmering and slightly thinned.
  • Spoon topping evenly over meatloaf patties.
  • Place meatloaf in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until deep brown on top, and the bottom and sides are golden and bubbly.
  • Let rest for 5-10 minutes until meatloaf has become slightly firm. Carefully remove patties with a spatula to serve.

For the potatoes:

  • Inspect potatoes for size. If potatoes are small and consistently sized, place them directly in a greased, rectangular baking dish. If they are larger, slice them in half before baking.
  • Toss potatoes with olive oil, nutritional yeast, thyme, rosemary, and salt and pepper.
  • Place in 400° oven for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown, crinkly, and fork tender.
  • Toss once again before serving.

For the greens:

  • Bring broth and olive oil to a boil in a large skillet.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and place greens into broth.
  • Add in red pepper flakes, lemon zest, and salt and pepper.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes until greens have wilted and become tender but still slightly firm.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 682kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 588mg | Potassium: 1527mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 2136IU | Vitamin C: 60mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!