Vegan Lentil Loaf (aka Meatless Meatloaf)

Ok. I am still a blogger in progress… I learn things from trial and error. Case in point: I now know that I should have spread some ketchup on the top of this to make it “pop” more in the pictures. It looks bland, it looks boring, it looks…like meatloaf. But I assure you, this loaf is not only cheap to make, healthy to eat, packed with protein, and unphotogenic — it’s also really, really tasty. I had my worries when I served it to my friends Matt and Megan; I had finally actually measured what I put into this dish, and written a real recipe down. I worry that meals don’t turn out as well when I have to use tablespoons to calculate instead of handfuls and pinches. But Matt and Megan ended up asking for the recipe to make an appearance on the blog! I figure, if Matt was comfortable saying, “This is my new favorite food! Something Loaf! What did you call it?” it can’t be that bad. This is a very tame recipe, too, so it’s a decent way to introduce lentils to someone not very well acquainted with them. I’d like to do more potent variations — strong Italian flavors, and so on. Mmm. So on.

Also… Meat Loaf is my ALL TIME favorite 80s/90s rocker. My friends and family totally know what I mean when I casually talk about “The Loaf.” In high school, I once jammed out in my little red Saturn to his best song ever (see below) with my friend Haley. As we sat parked in her driveway, Sonic Limeaides in the cupholders (forgive me), at the height of the ballad, I grabbed my car lighter and proceeded to wave it around like a “real” lighter. You know, just like you would at a concert? Yeah. One limeaide too many, apparently, because my thumb slipped… The burns didn’t go away until late college. ( = I had a circle on my fingerprint for years.) True fan devotion.

There is a fine line between “ironically” liking something (the 80s, for instance), and actually liking something. Meat Loaf was once in the blurry overlap of these categories for me. Now, I think I’ve discovered that I legitimately enjoy the doofus. He’s lovable, in a stray cat kind of way, you know? A really, really large, odd, stray cat. That likes to dress up in costumes. Bonus: I do the best rendition of “I Would Do Anything for Love” (the 12 minute version) that you will ever see. Seriously. I have witnesses.

Back to the Non-Meat Loaf… I honestly don’t remember where I first learned about the concept of a lentil loaf, so I’m not sure who to credit for initially inspiring the idea! I’ve been making these types of loaves for a year or so, and this week when I did a search to try and find out where I encountered it back then, I found that there are a myriad of similar recipes out there. That did not make sorting through them easy, and I still don’t know who the catalyst was for me. But I did find Angela at Oh She Glows’ lentil loaf recipe in the process, and Angela’s version looks wonderful, with accents of apple, raisin, and walnut. I would definitely recommend checking out her unique take on this dish if you’re looking for something a little different. Also, she used the blending method with success as well, so trust us — it works : )

1/4 C flax meal
1/2 C water
1-2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 C shredded carrot (I used a cheese grater…classy)
1 small onion (I always use red)
2-3 cloves garlic
1 Tb oregano
1 Tb (heaping) cumin
2 C cooked lentils (I used French; they were on sale)
1/2 C almond flour

1) With a fork, whisk together flax and water in a bowl and set aside.
2) Dice onions and garlic.
3) In a large pan, saute onions and shredded carrots in olive oil over medium heat. (I sprinkle salt on mine to get them to sweat out moisture.)
4) Add garlic after a few minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
5) Remove from heat after onions become translucent. Add lentils and almond flour.
6) Place 80-90% of the mixture in a food processor or blender until it is more processed than not. (See below for pictures.) Place back in pan or a large bowl.
7) Salt (and pepper) generously, and add flax “egg” mix to lentil mix.
8 ) Press into two loaf pans (mine are the strange size of 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2 1/4, but you can use bigger or smaller ones — the baking time will vary, however), and place in a 375* oven.
9) Check on the loaf periodically, but they will most likely take at least 45 minutes. It’s done when you tap on the top and it’s stiff, and sides are browned. Let them cool before slicing!

Some tips: I tend to put some parchment or foil into my pans before I make this (mainly because my pans are kind of…”used”). It makes taking the loaf out a cinch, so I remove it after a few minutes of cooling to speed up the process. Here is the texture I achieved when I processed the lentil mix (go a tad smoother than this, though — I liked it better that way when I re-tested):

Here’s the contrast of how the processed lentil mixture looks next to the whole mixture.

You can omit this step, but it will most likely be crumbly if you do. Just a head’s up!

We love to have these loaves on hand during the school year, especially, because they make a portable, fast lunch, and a quick, easy dinner if made ahead of time on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We douse ours in agave ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce. It sounds juvenile, but really it’s just delicious ; )

Have you tried lentil loaf before?

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I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It