Friday, January 21, 2011

Lentil Loaf

It may surprise you to hear this, but lentil loaf not very photogenic.  Actually, just Wednesday night I saw a ridiculously beautifully presented lentil loaf at Native Foods--like a layer cake, with mashed yams, and ketchup, and parsley, and I don't even know what else--but when I started writing this post, my standards for presentation were much lower.  But it's very good!  You should keep reading...


Meatloaf is something I never really liked or ate growing up, so making a vegan version hasn't exactly been on the top of my to-do list (my feelings about vegenaise are similar).  But, a friend of mine is somewhat obsessed with lentil loaves, and when I saw a recipe in The Veganopolis Cookbook, which I got for Xmas, I thought I'd try it out.  Unfortunately, the lentil and mushroom measurements were in weight only (!?), so I totally guessed on them.  I also reduced the salt, and instead of vegan Worcestershire sauce, I used a bootleg concoction of olive oil, red wine vinegar, tamarind paste, molasses, and cayenne (going off this very complicated recipe on about.com).  Finally, I added some molasses to the stock mixture with which you glaze the loaf towards the end.  Oh, and this was a half recipe; it filled a loaf pan and served about 6-7.

Cornstarch works its magic in this recipe as well as in the last one--should I be worried?  It seems like nutritionally it's like adding white sugar to your food, but I guess in small amounts (like in this recipe), from time to time, it's probably ok... I wonder if I could use arrowroot as a substitute.

Anyway, lentil loaf is delicious!  It got much loafier as it dried out a bit in the pan overnight, and the aforementioned lentil loaf aficionado described it as "meatloaf and stuffing all in one."  Although lentils make up the bulk of the dish, the inclusion of walnuts and mushrooms means that there's a variety of textures (and even with the 1/2 c walnuts, this recipe is dirt cheap).  This dish would be great with mushroom gravy or something else saucy... maybe even ketchup?  Is that what you put on meatloaf?  I think I'm realizing that I've never actually had meatloaf.

Edit 1/27: Lentil loaf sandwich.

Lentil Loaf

Ingredients
heaping 1 c dried lentils, rinsed
1 quart veg stock
2-3 c mushrooms, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 red or white onion, diced
2 TB canola oil
1/2 TB ground sage
1/2 TB garlic powder
1/2 TB freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or less)
1 tsp paprika
3 TB cornstarch + 2 TB cold water
1/4 c parsley, chopped
1/2 c walnuts, toasted and chopped
"Worcestershire":
1-2 TB olive oil
1 TB red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp tamarind paste 
1 tsp molasses
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions
1. Cook lentils in stock until they soften (40 min), then drain and reserve stock.  Mash up lentils.
2. Preheat oven to 350*.  Oil a loaf pan.
3. Over medium high heat, saute mushrooms, celery, and onion for about 10 minutes.  Add dry spices and cook for 5 more minutes.
4. Add cornstarch mixture to lentils and stir well, then add saute mixture to lentils as well.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Taste for salt.
5. Press mixture into loaf pan and bake about 1 hour until top browns.  Brush top with a mixture of reserved stock and molasses and bake 10-20 minutes more.
6. Remove from oven and let stand for at least 15 minutes.  The longer it sits, the loafier it will become.  Serves 6-7.

2 comments:

janet said...

I never really liked meatloaf as a kid and like you, have never really wanted to try to make a vegan option. But your post makes me more likely to try it! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

myer nore said...

This has nothing to do with this post. I just thought you might like this article on how to cut the time for carmelized onions down -

http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/01/the-food-lab-real-french-onion-dip-homemade-super-bowl-recipe.html