The Smart Shopper’s Cookbook was written for the home chef of the 70s struggling to put a nice meal on the table in the face of runaway inflation. Author Loyta Wooding still believes that meat is the “hub” of the meal, and includes animal protein in nearly every main dish recipe, but includes a handful of meatless recipes for cases where budgets are “extremely tight”. Most of them are simple (or not-so-simple) egg dishes or pastas dressed with heart-stopping amounts of cheese, but a few of them are, um, interesting. Southern Peanut Loaf falls into the interesting category.
Now before I go any further I want to be clear that this recipe is not representative of The Smart Shopper’s Cookbook overall. It’s a weird little misfire in what is otherwise a surprisingly tasty collection of recipes. You can find other, better recipes from The Smart Shopper’s Cookbook at this link.
If I haven’t scared you off already let’s get into the details. Southern Peanut Loaf is exactly what it sounds like. I’m not sure what makes it “southern”, but the peanut loaf is essentially a meatloaf where peanut butter, Velveeta, and mashed lima beans are used in place of meat. Still with me? Good for you. Add some bread crumbs, eggs, and a little bit of onion – bake for 45 minutes, and you’re ready to enjoy some piping hot Southern Peanut Loaf.
How is it? To be honest, you could do a lot worse for a vegetarian meal. It’s high in protein and nutritious, and once you get past the fact that it looks like a loaf of banana bread it’s not all that bad. It kind of tastes like the peanut butter and butter sandwiches my grandma used to make for me, with a little bit more savory depth to it. The texture approximates meatloaf surprisingly well, and while you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking it’s meat it pairs well with a lot of traditional meatloaf accoutrements. Tomato sauce and ketchup work well, gravy not so much.
I served this to my family with fettucine and a good-quality jarred pasta sauce. They were, um, unimpressed but had the pasta to fall back on (and had eaten a large, late lunch). The adults in the family agreed that it was better than it ought to be, but also agreed that we probably don’t ever need to make it again. Between the price of peanut butter and Velveeta this is only marginally cheaper than good old meatloaf, and our family is sort of stuck in our carnivorous ways. But if you’re a vegetarian looking to mix things up or just looking to eat less meat give it a whirl.
- 1 ¼ cups crunchy peanut butter
- 1 ½ cups cooked lima beans (about half of a 12 oz bag of frozen)
- ¼ cup onion (finely chopped, preferably in a food processor)
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ¼ cup soft bread crumbs
- ½ lb Velveeta (or similar processed cheese)
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 4 eggs (beaten)
- 2 cups prepared tomato sauce
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Liberally grease a small loaf pan.
- Tear Velveeta into small pieces. Mix all ingredients except for prepared tomato sauce in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to blend, and then mash with a potato masher or large fork. to break up the lima beans and cheese further..
- Add to loaf pan and bake 45 minutes or more until cooked through. The whole "toothpick in the center" test won't necessarily work here, you'll need to judge by testing the center for springiness. If the peanut loaf springs back quickly after you poke it it's done.
- Turn out onto a serving platter. Slice and serve with prepared tomato sauce.