Anyone can be "the family chef". You just need good recipes and techniques! Chef Amy Fothergill shares her best recipes with you for quick and easy dishes with an emphasis on gluten-free.

Get information here about her cookbook, The Warm Kitchen: Gluten-Free Recipes Anyone Can Make and Everyone Will Love.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Lentil Loaf, aka Meatless Meatloaf

I am very fortunate to hang out with a group of green moms. In the past 3 years, I have been making small changes in my life to become a little more green. I never feel guilty about what I haven't done yet but feel great about what I have accomplished. My journey has been a series of baby steps.

Once a month or so we have a vegetarian pot luck. If you know me, you know I'm not a vegetarian but I always consider it after these meals as I feel so satisfied as well as healthy. To me, cooking without meat means you have to be more creative with flavors and textures. I had wanted to create a tasty lentil loaf for a while, but lacked the motivation. When I saw that the topic was legumes and winter veggies, I decided to give it a try.

I knew some of the main ingredients I wanted in the dish; lentils, maybe brown rice, veggies and possibly nuts. I found this recipe and really liked the structure of it. When I cook, that's usually what I do. I use a recipe as a general guideline but not as a road map so I might get there a different way. Although the end result was delicious, you need to have time for this one as the lentils and rice have to be cooked. You certainly could use leftovers so if you plan ahead on another day, the ingredients could be sitting in your fridge.

Ground nuts are a great way to replicate the texture of meat. I decided to toast mine in a non-stick skillet. Toward the end, I threw in some wheat germ I had in the fridge for flavor and extra nutrition; it takes on a new character when toasted. The oats help to bind it but I could have used bread crumbs as well. I feel like cooking is all about what you have on hand.

The recipe had originally called for barley. I didn't have enough so I used a combo of barley and short grain brown rice. Why did I cook it together? Hands on your buzzers, please...the cooking time is almost the same and the grain size is almost identical. That also meant one less dish to wash for me.

The key to this dish is working in parallel. Here are the steps but the first 3 should be happening all at the same time:
  • Cook the barley/rice (this takes the longest)
  • Cook the lentils
  • Chop and cook the veggies
  • Toast the walnuts and wheat germ; cool, then place in food processor with the oats
  • Mix it all together and bake
Let's move on to the recipe itself. I really think I'm going to make this again, even if most of the time I'm a carnivore. I hope you'll give it a try.

Amy's Lentil Loaf

1/2 c barley or short grain brown rice (or a combo of both)
1 c brown lentils
Olive oil
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
Herbs de Provence
1 Tbl tomato paste
1/2 c walnuts
1/4 c wheat germ
1 c oats
1/2 c ketchup + 2 Tbl for the top
2 Tbl brown mustard
1 Tbl soy sauce
1/4 c Milk or water
1 egg, beaten

1. Cook rice or barley: bring 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add rice/barley and a pinch of salt. Cover and bring back to a boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes; you may need to add more water.
2. Cook lentils: add 1 cup of rinsed lentils to 3 cups of water with a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook about 25-30 minutes, covered. Leave cover off toward the end if there is still a lot of water.
3. Cook veggies: Heat oil in pan. Add carrots, onions and then celery with seasonings until golden brown. Add 1/2-1 cup water and allow to evaporate. This will help soften the veggies and get all of the flavor from the pan. Add tomato paste and salt to taste.
4. Toast walnuts in a non-stick skillet until golden, adding wheat germ toward the end to lightly toast. Cool. Add this with the oats in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (or chop on a cutting board).
5. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray or coat with oil.
6. Once lentils, rice, and veggies have cooled, mix in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients EXCEPT egg. Season with salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and make sure it has enough flavor. Once you are happy, add the egg and mix well. Make sure the mixture is somewhat "wet" or else it will be crumbly instead of moist. You can add more milk or water if necessary.
7. Place in loaf pan and top with ketchup. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees F.
8. Allow to rest for 5 minutes and then cut. Serve with a mushroom sauce.


Anonymous said...

I love, love your Lentil Loaf aka Meatless Meatloaf. I have made it several times. You suggest at the end of the recipe to serve it with mushroom sauce, but I have been unable to find this recipe on your website. I would greatly appreciate you sharing your mushroom sauce, as I would like to try it as you suggest, even though I just love this loaf without the sauce.

The Family Chef said...

Thank you! I will post a recipe for the sauce on the blog now. I really appreciate your feedback.

Andie said...

I made your lentil loaf today for dinner because my cousin is a vegetarian and she has a lentil loaf and says it is her favorite. Turns out she loved your recipe far better than the one she was using. Your mushroom sauce you posted is also fantastic, except I used a carmenere vs. the Marsala because that is what we were drinking. I made minor alterations to the recipe. but overall I will tell you it was fantastic. Will definitely go in the family cookbook to make time and time again! Thank you for sharing your passion to cook!


The Family Chef said...

Hi Andie,
Thanks for your comment; I am flattered!

Sorry for the delay in posting your comment. I have been having trouble with spam so each comment has to be moderated. Yours slipped through the cracks!

I just made a gluten-free version which I will also post. Come back to visit!