Meatless meatloaf. Did you ever think that was a thing? Cause it totally is.
I remember going vegetarian when I was 13. My parents had no idea what to cook for me. I started watching a lot of the Food Network. I started experimenting a lot more in the kitchen. In fact, that’s really my origin story as a “hobby chef.” A mum that could cook frozen fishsticks and a dad that could barbecue meat = two exasperated, confused, overworked people with no idea what to make a vegetarian kid for dinner. That’s where I stepped in.
I started making dinner more and more often. I kind of became the “head chef” of the family as a teenager, making simple meals of salads, soups and pastas from mostly scratch. One recipe I stumbled onto was a recipe for a lentil loaf. I was pumped – I loved lentils! And the recipe called for a ton of cheese. I loved cheese, too! Match made in heaven, right?
Wrong, cause that recipe just made a sloppy mess.
But this recipe… this is what I’m talking about.
Got a food processor? Good. Bust it out. Pulsing the lentils is the key to this thing sticking together. (Pulsing? Pulses? Lentils = pulses… See what I did there? Sorry, dorky food nerd joke)
There’s no cheese in this recipe, but it does call for eggs. It can easily be made vegan with some flax seed eggs or another vegan egg substitute. I would’ve happily tried it that way but didn’t have any flax seed available. Maybe next time.
One of the things that really makes this loaf stand out is the roasted, caramelized vegetables. You know what I’m talking about. Caramelized onions and carrots and Portobellos and some liquid smoke really give it that umami, smoky, meaty taste you’re craving. You won’t even miss “real” meatloaf. This is so much healthier, these lentils are going to give you all that protein you want out of a main dish with tons of dietary fiber and iron. And if you want it extra healthy I bet a bundle of cooked spinach thrown in would be a great addition as well. Try it and let me know!
- 2 cups of lentils (green or brown) – rinsed
- 3 eggs or vegan egg substitute
- 2 medium carrots – peeled and cut in half length wise
- 1 large onion – peeled and cut into large pieces
- 6 to seven large Portobello mushroom caps - stems removed
- 2 cloves of garlic – peeled (I use pre-minced garlic in a jar - SO easy - use a couple teaspoons or tablespoons depending on how much you like garlic)
- 1 and ½ cups of bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon of liquid smoke
- 1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of dry Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons cumin powder
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Sprig of fresh rosemary
- Ground sea salt and pepper to taste (I added a LOT of salt and I prefer white pepper to black)
- Olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 385°F
- Cook the lentils by covering with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer once boiling and let cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat, adding more water as needed. The lentils should be fully cooked and soft - taste them along the way.
- While the lentils are cooking, roast the carrots and onion on a baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and sea salt. Roast for five minutes, flip and add mushrooms, then roast another 5 minutes. Repeat, keeping a close eye, until veggies are caramelized and soft. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.
- Once the lentils are done cooking, drain excess lentil water in a fine mesh colander and pulse half of the lentils in a food processor. Add to a large mixing bowl and pulse the other half of the lentils.
- Add the caramelized vegetables to the food processor along with the minced garlic and pulse until they are cut into small pieces. Add to mixing bowl with the lentils.
- Add the bread crumbs, eggs, liquid smoke, and diced tomatoes (reserving part of the tomatoes and juice for pouring over the top of the loaf), rosemary and desired seasonings and stir until well combined.
- Make sure to taste the mixture and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Line a 1 lb. (8½" x 4½" x 2¾") loaf pan with parchment paper or lightly grease it and put the lentil loaf mixture in the pan. Firmly press it into the pan until it forms the shape of the pan.
- Bake for 55 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and cut three slices into the loaf and evenly pour the leftover juice and tomato from the can of diced tomatoes on top. Don’t drench it, it should just cover the loaf. Bake another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let it set for ten minutes.
Based on this recipe by Veganosity.
I just had it with some buttery mashed potatoes that I whipped up quickly. With all the prep involved this probably isn’t your every day weeknight dinner, but the leftovers sure could be. And they make an amazing work lunch the next day – ALL of my co-workers commented on how delicious my lunch smelled and wondered what it was. (That delicious smoky rosemary smell just wafted through the entire lunchroom)
This would be a great main dish for a veggie dinner party, or even a regular one! My carnivore boyfriend gave it the seal of approval. This recipe is a real winner! Try it out and let me know how it worked for you!