HANNAH MCKENZIE, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
Originally published May 2015 and republished with the express permission of the author.
Lentil loaf is a savoury go-to meal made with simple flavorful ingredients for our vegan family. It lends itself to substitutions or additions depending on what vegetables or fruits are available and in season. Canned or fresh tomatoes would be a lovely substitution or nuts that are grown or available in your region. Pecans are plentiful in North Carolina, so they are often found in deserts and dinners in our home. Sometimes we use fresh apples and cranberries as the pizazz rather than tomatoes. Add herbs of your choice to customize the flavour. the oat flour glues the loaf together so don;t omit this key ingredient!
Double the recipe to make one loaf for your family and another for friends. It freezes well and can be prepped in stages if you’re chasing children while cooking. Toddlers love scooping, dumping, and mixing ingredients alongside you. They can even wield a table knife to cut this grown up meal.
1 tbsp olive oil, preferably from sundried tomatoes
2 carrots, diced
Minced/crushed garlic, to taste
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1 cup uncooked dry green lentils, rinsed and soaked for an hour in refrigerator
3 cups water
To add to the cooled lentil mixture:
1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water, soaked for 15 minutes (or an egg if you’re not vegan)
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 cup oat flour or rolled oats, pulsed into flour in food processor
1/2 cup corn meal or breadcrumbs
6oz tomato paste
Salt to taste
Combine and rapidly simmer the first list of ingredients for 40 minutes. Cool, and add the second list of ingredients. It should be a thick pudding consistency once all the ingredients are combined. If not add more oat flour or cornmeal as needed. Press into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 C/ GM3 for 45 minutes.
Serve as the main attraction with fresh fruit or a hearty side dish, slathered with spicy mustard or ketchup. If you omitted all tomatoes and added chopped fresh apples and dried cranberries to the cooled lentil mixture, a balsamic reduction is delicious on the finished loaf. Noone will notice that it is vegan.