Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lentil Loaf: Trying a Much-Maligned 70's Hippie Staple.

On several occasions, I have read articles on vegetarian food that said something like "These days, vegetarian cooking is about more than lentil loaf." Well darnit, after years of seeing lentil loaf badmouthed in the media, I decided to actually make it. It's actually pretty good. (Tastes better than it looks.) Shown here reheated from the deep freeze in my office cubicle, served with mac n' cheese w/ broccoli.

Lentil Loaf:

  • 1 bag dry lentils (2 ½ cups)
  • ½ cup dry TVP (texturized vegetable protein) (optional, use less water if omitting)
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ cup smoked almonds (hulled sunflowers or pumpkin seeds work too)
  • 4 eggs or 5 egg whites or egg substitute
  • 2 cups dry bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, 1 carrot + optional: 1 spear of celery, ½ Green pepper, ½ cup mushroom stems
  • 2 tbs. sage
  • 2 tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 tbs. hot paprika 9or sweet paprika + ½ tsp cayenne)
  • ¼ cup ketchup or BBQ sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce

  1. Combine lentils, TVP, half the garlic powder, sage (no salt!) w/ 4-5 cups water and cook covered on med heat until very tender (45 minutes) checking several times to make sure there is still some liquid in the bottom of the pan so they don’t burn (water absorption can vary)

  2. Meanwhile, finely chop veggies and sauté in some olive oil on low heat – add garlic powder or fresh chopped garlic after they become tender.
  3. Chop almonds in food processor, blender or by hand until finely chopped.
  4. Drain lentils, reserving cooking liquid. Pulse lentils and ½ cup cooking liquid in food processor so that there are still some whole lentils.
  5. Preheat oven to 350
  6. Pour lentils in mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except the eggs and bread crumbs. Taste mixture and add salt and/or extra herbs and spices to taste. Add eggs and stir until combined. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture becomes more firm but still very moist (like watery mashed potatoes). If it gets to thick, like clay, add some reserved cooking liquid to loosen)
  7. Spray loaf pan with oil. Line bottom with parchment paper. Fill with lentil mixture leaving ½ inch at the top, spread ketchup on top. Cover with foil.
  8. Bake at 350 for aprox. 1 hour, until center has domed up some (it will collapse again later).Refrigerate overnight or eat now but risk some crumbling. If eating now, make gravy in step 10 while loaf is in oven.
  9. Run knife around edge of pan and turn over on cutting board. Slice and serve (If chilled, reheat in microwave or in nonstick frying pan)
  10. Serve with gravy [sauté pint of thinly sliced mushrooms and one finely chopped onion, add two cups vegetable stock (wine or soy sauce optional), bring to boil and stir in 2-3 tbs. flour (or 1-2 tbs. corn starch) dissolved in ¼ cup cold stock.]

Substitutions: This is a versatile recipe. Go wild. Go nuts. Wild rice for ¼ lentils or the TVP. Pistachios instead of smoked almonds. Cooked rice or quinoa for some or all the bread crumbs. Omit all herbs and spices and soy sauce and use a taco seasoning or vegetable soup packet in step 6 instead. Cook in muffin tins instead of loaf pan.You can't go wrong - worst case you turn it into sloppy joe's.

Frugal Factor: This is a great budget food item - the recipe below is about 10 good servings and costs maybe maybe $4 for ingredients. That's $0.40/portion - cheaper than a potato.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... but nut loaf will always beat lentil loaf, says I.