I knew right away, while eating a slice of this lentil loaf for the first time, that it’d be a new staple for us, one of those things that you make a new batch of as soon as you finish the leftovers. That has been the case and then some, I had no idea just how versatile this loaf (and the balsamic glaze, which I love to toss roasted tofu in!) would be. Not only is the lentil loaf the perfect entree for dinner, the star of the show, it’s also incredibly satisfying cold. We eat it in the car on road trips, with our hands straight from the tupperwear, and every which way in between, including crumbling the leftovers to use in baked pasta dishes (pictured at the very bottom of this post), tacos or any recipe that calls for ground cow flesh (and for that, I just skip the glaze and bake it plain, then crumble in a skillet with a bit of vegan butter to fully brown). Since posting this, I’ve added a Lentil Meatball Subs post and Vegan Mapo Tofu with Ground Lentils post from the lentil loaf. This recipe seriously does it all.
This lentil loaf is all the best tasting, most savory things in one place and I can’t imagine a time where I don’t look forward to it. I know that we’ll be making, eating and celebrating with this lentil loaf for a long, long time as it’s packed with things that ensure healthy aging. Beans/legumes, as I tell everyone constantly, are the biggest dietary indicator of elderly survival. If you want to live a long, healthy life eat more beans/lentils. 3 servings per day is our goal and we almost always surpass it. I recommend only using high quality, small brown lentils for this recipe. I use Palouse Brand ones, which I buy online as it’s not easy to find quality lentils in grocery stores around me.
The biggest differences between this lentil loaf and traditional meatloaf nutritionally are, for the same sized portion, this lentil loaf contains 14 grams/over half your daily value of fiber (traditional meatloaf contains less than 1 gram), zero grams of cholesterol of course since it’s only found in animal products, all of your omega 3’s and 6’s for the day (regular meatloaf contains a negligible amount of both) and only 2 grams of saturated fat while beef meatloaf contains 10 grams. 10 grams!! For a serving size of 400 calories. The American Heart Association recommends getting 13 grams of less per day
By the way, haha, I was worried about the less-than-photogenic nature of this loaf and googled pics of traditional meatloaf to see how people possibly frame it to look its best and, wow. I don’t think I’ve ever looked away from anything in disgust quicker, followed by an uproar of laughter over the thought that people actually go out of their way to make it; that with all the combined knowledge of humanity at their fingertips, they return to meatloaf. I’m very thankful to my mom right now that my childhood wasn’t full of that particular inexcusable abomination of imagination and animal lives.
Absolutely Perfect Lentil Loaf
(makes 2 loaves, each with 3-4 servings)
1 cup dry small brown lentils
3 cups vegetable broth
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
half a bell pepper (or any pepper/chili of choice, nothing too spicy though)
1/2 tsp old bay
2 tbsp fresh oregano (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dry)
2 tbsp fresh parsley
8 oz mushrooms (or 1.5 oz dried, then rehydrated), diced
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1.5 cups walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (or sub with more walnuts)
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp soy sauce ( I use low sodium)
3/4 cup oats ground into flour in the food processor (or sub with all purpose flour)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp ground flax seed in 3 tbsp water
1/3 cup ketchup (recipe below. I’ve never made this with storebought ketchup, and while I know that’s a common practice, I truly cannot imagine it and recommend making your own. Make extra to freeze too)
1 tsp maple
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup white vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
splash of soy sauce
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp allspice
Simmer all ingredients until thickened, about 5-10 minutes.
Preheat oven for 375
Mix the ground flax and the 3 tbsp water. Set aside
Bring the lentils and vegetable broth to a boil, then simmer about 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy.
Sautee the onions, garlic, mushrooms and pepper until browned and the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture. Add the herbs, old bay. I use the 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar throughout the sauteeing to make sure nothing sticks/deglaze the pan. Add to a large bowl
Strain and add half the lentils to the bowl with the cooked veg, and pulse the other half in the food processor until broken up but not a paste.
Pulse the walnuts and sunflower seeds, then add to the bowl with the lentils/veg. Blend the oats, if using, into a flour, then add to the bowl along with the 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Mix well
To the ground flax/water mixture (“flax egg”), add the tomato paste and soy sauce. Stir well, then add to the lentil mixture until very incorporated.
Separate the mixture into 2 bread pans (4×8 I think is the common size) with parchment paper sticking out the sides so you can easily lift out the loaf. Mix all the glaze ingredients together, then brush loaves.
Bake for 40-50 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting and serving.