Easiest ever Vegetarian Lentil Loaf

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It’s finals week and all I’ve really wanted to eat lately is comfort food that would both warm me up and make me feel better about my swiftly deteriorating social skills and my new-found inability to speak coherent English. I needed crispy, warm and gooey – staaat. What I didn’t want however, were the nasty aftereffects of junk food which I figured would make my studying even harder by making me sluggish or worse – sugarhigh. Trust me, I’m already scatter-brained, I don’t need a extra pound of the white stuff to turn me into a chipmunk when I’m supposed to be reading a twenty page manifesto on the Prague school of communication dynamics. As much as I want the Kraft dinner and the chocolate cake and the ramen noodles, I’m too scared of what’s in them to actually have them for dinner (MSG, suspiciously named food dyes and hydrogenated fats anyone?)

What I wanted was a compromise, something savory and fulfilling but healthy at the same time, which is where this lentil loaf came in. I usually eat dinner after yoga and while I do eat meat, I don’t like to eat it at night because it can be hard to digest and sometimes gives me bad dreams.  I saw a recipe for meatloaf in Bon Appetit and thought to myself, why don’t I do that with lentils and hot sauce and substitute the white flour for one of the whole-grain flours in my pantry? I flipped through several lentil loaf recipes before constructing my own based on this recipe http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/recipe-lentil-loaf/

I switched up most of the ingredients to make this loaf as easy as possible and added pesto as well as Italian seasoning, giving the loaf a lasagna like flavor. I had some beautiful farmers market eggs in the fridge so I subbed those for the flax gel. If you do decide to use flax however, your loaf will be completely vegan.  Barley flour, which I substituted for the oats in the original, is a low-gluten flour suitable for people with mild gluten intolerances. It has a delicious nutty flavor and contains a special type of fiber that is especially good for the reduction of cholesterol called beta-glucan. I’m no nutritionist, but that sounds pretty impressive to me! The loaf came out so moist and delicious, even my meat-loving parents couldn’t get enough. I served the loaf with a simple tomato salad and some sliced avocado and topped it with some sriratcha.  Next stop in makeover town? healthy mac & cheese! Raw, vegan fruitcake with coconut whip is also on it’s way. But first, make this lentil loaf – you won’t regret it.

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Ingredients:

1 can cooked red lentils

1 large onion, diced

2 small carrots, peeled and diced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cup tomato passata

2 tbsp pesto

2 tbsp Italian seasoning

1 tbsp hot sauce

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

1 cup barley flour

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped roughly

2 large eggs + 1 egg-white (or equivalent flax seed gel to make it vegan)

1/2 cup ketchup

4 tbsp barbecue sauce

How to:

Preheat oven to 180 C.

  1. Microwave lentils on high for about 2 minutes, mush a little with a fork and leave aside
  2. Saute the onion and carrots in the oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook until vegetables are translucent and then add mushed lentils (which help keep the loaf together!)
  3. Add the tomato passata, hot sauce, pesto and seasonings to the pan and mix thoroughly. Taste and season more if needed.
  4. Add the cup of Barley flour and the chopped walnuts.
  5. Spoon into loaf pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Press the mixture down with a fork and top with barbecue sauce and ketchup.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes until the the top of the loaf is set and looks glossy. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes and then take it out to cool for a further five minutes. Serve with a salad, mashed potatoes, gravy or mushroom sauce.
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