I’m just going to say up front that I don’t really do meatloaf. Just the name MEATLOAF really turns me off and the idea of compacted meat in a loaf pan, the same loaf pan that bears me sweet fragrant yeast breads, straight gives me the willies.
I just don’t know why.
However, in the spirit of consuming anything and everything lentils, I decided to do a little experiment this evening. I read a bunch of different vegetarian cookbooks and compared and contrasted recipes for a vegetarian form of meatloaf made with lentils instead of the usual ground beef and pork. To be honest, it didn’t really sound appetizing and being even more honest, I’m quite sick of legumes right now. But still, the show must go on and what better way to spend a late Tuesday afternoon than making a lentil walnut loaf?
For this recipe I did a little of this, a little of that. Threw in what I had from home and topped everything off with toasted walnuts and a sweet tomato glaze. And you know? It actually turned out really, really good. Perhaps even fantastic? You’ll have to be the judge of that. As for me, I sat in awe and silence, forking bite after bite into my mouth in awe that lentils in a loaf form could possibly be one stroke short of genius.
So, here we go. Start off by simmering 1 cup of dried lentils with 3 cups of vegetable broth and a wee bit of salt.
It’ll take about 25 minutes for the lentils to become tender and absorb the broth. Keep the heat on medium and stir every now and again but don’t go crazy with it. Meanwhile, prepare your veggies.
Chop up one large yellow onion and one stalk celery.
Grate one carrot for good measure.
And then heat up two tablespoons of olive oil in your skillet. Previously, we’ve mastered caramelizing onions. Don’t do that tonight. Simply saute the onions and the celery for about six minutes, or until both are tender. Keep the heat on medium low so you don’t burn your britches. Now, add the grated carrot and two tsp minced garlic.
Stir to combine and cook for about four minutes. It will definitely look like bunny food. No doubt about it. Now add 1 tsp dried oregano, and a healthy pinch of sea salt and pepper.
While you’ve got that goin’ on the stove, toast 3/4 cup chopped walnuts. I do this in a 350 degree oven for about six minutes. Be careful but not paranoid….if one nut particle burns, simply toss it in the trash and move on.
Then, make a flax egg. To do this, combine three tbsp ground flax with 1/2 cup water. Stir and set aside.
Once the nuts are toasted, dump ’em in with the onion/carrot/celery/garlic mixture.
Transfer everything to a large bowl and add the cooked lentils and one cup dry breadcrumbs. Here, I’m using Panko crumbs, which are my favorite. Add your flax egg and stir well. It’s not pretty folks but this is a process. The end is in sight. Stick with me.
Dump everything in a greased loaf pan and press down.
Then, make the glaze. In a small bowl combine 2 tbsp ketchup with 1 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Mix well. Spread over the top of the loaf.
Bake the loaf at 350 for 40 minutes and then when you pull it out, this magically appears!
Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf
makes 1 loaf to serve 6 people
1 cup green lentils
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 large yellow onion
1 large carrot
1 stalk celery
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 cup breadcrumbs
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 tbsp ground flax mixed with 1/2 cup water OR 1 egg white
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the ground flax and 1/2 cup water. Set aside.
Simmer together the lentils, broth and a pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.
Meanwhile, prepare your veggies. Chop the onion, grate the carrot and dice the celery. Saute the onion and celery in the olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes, or until
tender, not caramelized. Add the garlic and carrot and cook for about another four minutes.
Toast the walnuts in the oven for six to seven minutes. Add them to the onion/carrot/garlic mixture on the stove and stir well.
Add the oregano, salt and pepper as well and then take the mixture off the stove and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the breadcrumbs, flax/water (or egg white) and cooked lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make the topping.
In another small bowl combine the ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes and then out on a plate.
Leftovers make great sandwich stuffers!
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