Meatless Meatloaf (Vegetarian Lentil Loaf)
This meatless meatloaf uses lentils as the base. It’s totally nut-free, gluten-free, and dairy free and only wouldn’t suit vegans (who don’t eat eggs). It’s a great high-protein option for vegetarians, and it’ll satisfy even the meat eaters in your crowd.
This is a recipe I’ve worked on- tweaking here and there- for years. I now have it down to my favorite texture and flavors. I used to make it with quinoa, but I found it came out too light and airy. Not substantial enough, in my opinion. I also discovered that using very much oat flour (or other gluten-free flours) made it too dry and thick.
I have used adzuki beans before, and a blend of lentils and adzuki beans. That comes out great too. Feel free to give it a try for variety.
For ease, cook the brown lentils and rice ahead of time, while you are doing something else. Then use them in this meal and in other dishes during the week. (I sometimes like a straight up rice and lentil bowl for lunch, maybe with some fresh tomato and avocado on top.) Lentils freeze well, so go ahead and make extra!
To cook brown lentils, rinse the lentils thoroughly and cover with about twice the amount of water as legumes. I often add 2-3 whole (peeled) garlic cloves and a tablespoon or so of apple cider vinegar during the cooking. Then salt and olive oil at the end. (See my in-depth post on cooking great tasting and low gas beans and legumes here.) I find that the brown lentils I buy here take about 35-40 minutes until done. They should still be recognizable as individual lentils, yet totally tender. If you go too long they will turn to mush.
I almost always make yamani rice, which I had never heard of before moving to Argentina. It’s a Japanese short-grain brown rice. Apparently it’s one of the most whole of the brown rices. I like how it cooks up a bit sticky. I probably make at least a pot per week.
To cook yamani rice, start by rinsing it well. (At least 4-5 times in the pot over the sink. You can use a fine strainer to make it easier). Then cover the rice with twice as much water as rice. I add a 1/2 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon olive oil.
Cover pot and bring to a boil (this takes about 10 minutes where I am, it might vary depending on the altitude where you are), then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered 30 minutes. (You can barely crack the lid if it’s making a mess.) Then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and cook covered another 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, and leave covered for at least another 10 minutes. Serve immediately, or let cool completely and store in the fridge for up to a week.
This meatless meatloaf is delicious straight out of the oven and also cold the next day.
I often make cold sandwiches, or stuffed grilled cheese, with the leftovers for my husband, and a salad with cold strips or cubes on top for me.
Read on for the recipe!
P.S. For those of you who make nutmilk at home and wonder what to do with all that extra nut pulp, this is a great recipe to use it in. Just add a cup of nut pulp, no other changes required. I don't eat nuts anymore, but I used to regularly add walnut pulp to this recipe. It comes out great.
Recipe for Lentil Loaf (Vegetarian Meatless Meatloaf)
Makes one 9x12 pan, or 8 single servings.
1 large onion- diced
3 cups cooked brown lentils- drained
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (warm or cold is fine; I prefer the sort grain Japanese 'Yamani' rice)
1/4 cup oat flour (or ground traditional oats)
1 small can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crumbled)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon ground red pepper (not chili powder which is spicy, the mild stuff. You could also use paprika.)
2 tablespoons molasses (I use miel de caña in Argentina)
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari if you are celiac)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the thick reduction type if you have it)
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons onion flakes
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon olive oil
Large bunch fresh flat-leafed parsley (big stems removed and finely chopped)
Precook the brown lentils and rice. This can be done earlier in the week, if you prefer. Both keep well in the fridge for at about a week.
Heat oven to 350F (175C).
In a food processor, combine the ingredients as listed above, blending a bit after each new addition (you can do all of the spices and sauces together). You are looking a complete incorporation or all of the ingredients while keeping some texture. Avoid turning it into a total puree.
(You could also do it by hand in a bowl, which will make a chunkier version that will still taste good but won’t look quite like a 'meatloaf'.)
Bake uncovered for 25 minutes in a well-oiled 9x12 baking pan until the loaf is getting firm and brown and starting to crack on top.
Blend the topping ingredients thoroughly and spread in a thin layer oven the loaf (after the initial 25 minutes of baking).
Bake another 15 minutes until the topping is glazing and browning.
Wash, de-stem and finely chop the parsley.
Remove the lentil loaf from the oven and sprinkle an even layer of the parsley over the top while it is still hot.
Let cool for about 10 minutes, cut into squares and serve. Keeps in the fridge and makes great leftovers. Freezes well too.
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