My late mother-in-law loved to cook, and enjoyed using her considerable skills to make good things for her family and friends to eat. I was very fortunate that she considered me to be a member of this especially lucky group. ☺ The fact that I didn't eat meat created a challenge for her, but she was always good at solving puzzles.
She introduced Megaloaf to the traditional family Thanksgiving dinner menu during the mid-1980's, serving it alongside the roast turkey. At the time, I was the sole vegetarian in the family, but everyone enjoyed this dish so much that she began to make two loaves so there would be enough to go around! It's been a mainstay at family celebrations ever since, serving as the main dish for vegetarians and a side dish for the omnivores.
Vegetarians are a rare breed in rural New Hampshire. When I first joined the local Grange, I was told, "We've never had one of THOSE before," and encountered a lot of honest, good natured curiosity about my dietary preferences. The Grange held a potluck dinner every month, and I always brought along a Megaloaf as my contribution to the feast. It was very popular, despite the lack of meat, and I usually returned home with an empty pan, the sign of a truly successful potluck dish!
I had no idea of the origins of Megaloaf until after my mother-in-law's death, when I found - tucked away in an old cookbook - a yellowed newspaper clipping from 1986, with a recipe authored by a woman named Shakti Reiner. Ms. Reiner states that, “This recipe has lots of leeway. The only thing that can go wrong is the loaf might come out soggy; it will still taste fine, just cook it longer next time. And make sure the rice isn’t cooked with excess water. The loaf should have a nice brown crust on top, but not be dried out. When I was introduced to Megaloaf, it was with a mushroom sauce; but tomato sauce does nicely, too. Megaloaf tastes so good alone that you don’t need either sauce. Just add a salad and a cooked vegetable and you’ve got a healthy, high-protein and delicious meal.”
The original recipe!
Ms. Reiner is correct on all points: Megaloaf tastes great with or without a sauce. It is extremely filling! And you should also absolutely be sure not to overcook the rice - I've accidentally done so in the past, and can testify to the fact that soggy Megaloaf is no fun! By the way, thin slices of cold megaloaf make a great "meatloaf" sandwich the next day!
My version differs very slightly from the original. The main difference is that I replaced two thirds of the cheddar with swiss cheese to reduce the sodium levels in the final product, while not completely wiping out the nice cheddary taste. This has been my favorite recipe to make for celebrations and get-togethers for over three decades. I hope you enjoy it, too! ☺ #FTBIRTHDAY
Ready to cook!
- 2 cups brown rice, cooked (don't let it get soggy)
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 or more cups finely chopped walnuts
- 1 to 2 cups frozen chopped onions, thawed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 pound shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 pound shredded Swiss cheese
- 3 eggs, beaten
- Ground pepper, to taste
- Prepare bread loaf pan (either grease or line with parchment paper).
- While the rice is cooking, mix everything in a big bowl.
- Stir in the rice once it is cooked.
- Spoon mixture into the prepared loaf pan and use a spatula to press the mixture into place. Smooth out the top (you must press it all down very firmly or the loaf will fall apart when you serve it).
- Bake 50 to 60 minutes at 350°F, until browned
This is very good with tomato sauce!
Shakti Reiner, modified by Jeannine L