Vegan Home-style Meatloaf, a popular post here at Chow Vegan, but I always get inquiries about replacing the vital wheat gluten called for in the recipe. As it’s been asked so many times, I ran an experiment to see if I can answer it once and for all.
METHOD: I made the original recipe as is up to the part where the gluten would have been added, I then split the mixture in half.
One half, henceforth known as Batch A, I proceeded without the wheat gluten, substituting instead a couple of teaspoons of chickpea liquid (the juice from the can of chickpea, also known as aquafaba). The other, Batch B, I added the wheat gluten and water.
From there, I proceeded as usual with the recipe, mixing and forming mini loaves all the while keeping the two batches separate. Although I did bake all four loaves on the same baking pan.
RESULT: See above for a visual comparison. Batch A, with chickpea liquid and no gluten: Still holds its shape but it’s softer and has a bit more of a bean taste.
Batch B, with gluten: The gluten is not just a binder, it helps to give the loaf more structure and a toothsome, chewy texture and a tad more of a wheat taste.
CONCLUSION: Yes, you can totally sub out the wheat gluten. It’s not quite the same but if you’re looking for gluten-free, it works and it’s tasty in its own right. While I used chickpea juice for this experiment, a flax egg would probably work just as well.
Gluten-free Vegan Home-style Meatloaf
Makes 4 mini loaves
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon or more of the juice saved from the can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tamari
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
Ketchup for glaze
Heat sauté pan to hot, add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sauté onion until translucent, then add the carrots and celery. Cook for about 2 minutes; set aside and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Drain the chickpeas and save the chickpea juice from the can. Do not rinse the chickpeas. Place in a large bowl, and smash with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients including the cooked vegetables. Mix together until everything sticks together in a big ball.
Divide the ball into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small loaf. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly oil. Place the loaves on the tin foil and brush all sides with oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Take out and glaze the top with ketchup. Bake another 10 minutes until firm. Cut into slices and serve with mashed potatoes and your favorite sides.