Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lentil "Meat" Loaf

As a kid, meatloaf was never my favorite dish.  Fast forward 20 years and vegan "meatloaf" is one of my all time favorite foods!  As I've said before, meat (especially ground beef) always grossed me out.  There is just so much stuff in meat, including parts that are a bit tough, chewy, and well, questionable.  As a vegan, I owe it to my sister for forging my path to lentil love.  She loves her lentils and one day she came home from Whole Foods with a lentil loaf in hand.  It was made with TVP and was perfect sliced on a cracker with mustard.  With that first bite, I realized how versatile the little lentil seed truly is.  With black, orange, green, and brown to choose from it is impossible to get bored cooking with and eating lentils.  The best part about this Lentil "Meat" Loaf is the ingredient list has wiggle room.  Whatever you've got on hand, throw it into the loaf!! I'm guessing that's how meatloaf first came about.  Throw the left overs into a loaf pan and toss it in the oven!


Today, I've got lots of kale seeing as it is in season and on sale.  I've used curly kale but any green will do.  I've used swiss chard, spinach, arugula, collards, even beet tops.  Lentil loaf is the all forgiving recipe that holds it all in with a bit of tomato puree!  Seeing as I just whipped up some spicy BBQ sauce (all hail, Sirachia!) I've add it to the recipe.  You could easily use fresh chopped tomato, plain puree, ketchup or my Killer Tomato Sauce.  Have fun, be creative, and always play around with your food.

One of my silly vegan quirks is my inability to separate (in my mind at least) the consumption of meat with Medieval times.  Maybe it was too many trips to Excalibur as a kid or the lingering eeewww factor of seeing those giant turkey legs for sale at Medieval fairs but whatever the cause, it lingers.  So, after attending the local (I swear I'm not a geek!) Medieval festival, I'm somehow hankering for some Vegan "Meat" Loaf and rustic roasted veggies.  After having three servings, I can say that this is one of the best, and therefore post worthy, lentil loafs I have ever made!!  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did!
My sister and me at the local Medieval Fair! It was really fun and typical of PNW weather, it went from sunny to rainy and back to sunny making it feel all the more authentic! As usual, we held our outspoken vegan tongues as we passed way to many people decked out in period piece costumes complete with (ack) fur and leather.  Sadly, the medieval times were not good for the animal rights agenda.  However, I envisioned the girl with the fox head hand bag as I got a bulls eye in the bow and arrow arena :)  

Back to lentil "meat" loaf.  This recipe is soy free, gluten free, and cruelty free!!  I'm so glad that I live in the 21st century, I doubt I would have gone far as a 15th century Venturing Vegan!

Serving Yields 8 Servings
Loaf Mix
2 cups cooked green lentils
2 flax eggs (2 tbsp. freshly ground flax seed + 1/4 cup water)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup mushrooms, diced
2 cups kale leaf, de-stemmed, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped (or your favorite herb such as thyme or oregano)
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour (1/2 cups almonds, put in coffee/nut grinder and you have flour)
salt and pepper to taste

3/4 cup tomato puree
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, diced
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. black strap molasses
1 tsp. mustard seed powder
1 tbsp. Siracha (use two if you want it über spicy)

Preheat oven to 375 ℉
- For the sauce, add all ingredients to blender and blend well.  Set aside.
- For the cooked lentil, an average rule of thumb is that 1 cup dried lentil will equal 2 cups cooked.  1 cup dry lentils into the pot with 2 cups water, bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.  In about 15 - 20 minutes the water will be absorbed and the lentils will be done.
For the loaf:
1. In a small dish, add 1/4 cup water to 2 tbsp. of flax seed.  Whip with fork then set aside and let thicken.
2. In a skillet, bring to medium heat and add 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.  Add chopped onions and sauté until tender - about 5-10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and stir.  Cook for about 2 minutes or until the mushroom is tender.  Add the herbs and kale and 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Stir to mix all the ingredients.  Remove from heat.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper.  
3. In a blender or food processor, process 1 1/2 cups of the cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of the oats.  Blend until the mixture is smoothish.
4. In a medium bowl, add the blended lentils and oat plus the remainder of your unprocessed lentils and oat.  Mix well.  Add the flax egg and the almond flour, mix well.  Add the veggies from the skillet.  Mix well.
5. In a 9"x 5" loaf pan, lightly coat bottom and sides with olive oil.  Then spoon a small amount of sauce onto the bottom of the loaf pan.  Into prepared loaf pan, spoon lentil mixture.  Press it in nice and snug so it all smooshes together. The tighter you pack it, the better it will hold when you remove it.  Add the remaining sauce to the top of the loaf.
6. Bake at 375 ℉ for 30-40 minutes.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Then flip your loaf pan onto a cooling rack and gently remove.  The loaf should slide right out in one glorious piece. Enjoy!
* you can line the loaf pan with parchment paper and then lift finished loaf to remove as an alternative method. 

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