I know, I know. “Veggie loaf” sounds about as unappetizing as unappetizing gets, but I’ve spent about as long thinking about alternate names for this recipe as I’ve spent making it…and it’s about time I quit thinking and start sharing. Ashley over at Edible Perspective first posted a version of this in 2014, based on a recipe originally shared by Angela of Oh She Glows fame in 2012. Now, these women know their way around a plant-based kitchen, and you’d be in good hands to follow their recipes to a T. But after a couple years of making this in my own little space, I’ve developed my own take on it and love it so much, it’s time I tell you about it, too.
I probably should have done this months ago. This lentil veggie loaf has a very late-Fall feel to it, the kind of meal that has totally usurped the dried out turkey in the Thanksgiving feast of my dreams, but since I apparently know nothing of timeliness and, in fact, just finished sharing a “late late” harvest nourish bowl with you last month, well…Fall in February shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Besides, who wouldn’t want a piping hot slice of this beauty to warm them up in the dead of winter?
I always, always serve this with extra root vegetables, roasted to perfection with just enough salt, pepper, and oil to elevate their natural flavors — Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, perhaps a butternut squash, and a few big handfuls of kale are always safe bets. They add color, and there’s never such a thing as too many vegetables. The loaf itself is soft, but maintains the perfect amount of textural chew from the walnuts and lentils. I’ll bet sunflower seeds would be equally tasty for anyone with nut allergies. It has a touch of sweetness in the glaze, which I tried once to switch up for a mustard concoction and immediately regretted, because it balances out the savory veggies in the loaf itself. I could seriously live on this one recipe alone from October through March, though I think I would get one or two grumbles from Liam. Something about wanting variety, and also some meat now and again? Whatever.
Some other pluses? It freezes well. You can make it ahead of time. It’s pretty versatile, so you can change up the grains and even the veggies a bit. I’ve made it vegan with flax eggs, and though it works for the most part, it is slightly more prone to falling apart without the actual eggs, so consider yourself warned. (This may or may not have made for a dramatic fiasco when trying to transfer it to the platter for the photo shoot the most recent time I made it.)
I think my kitchen escapades could make for a fairly successful sitcom.
This vegan riff on the classic meatloaf is hearty, satisfying, and the only thing I want to eat from October through March.
- 2 tablespoons ground flax
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2/3 cup French green lentils
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup farro
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil
- 1 small onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup grated sweet potato (about 1/2 medium)
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, minced
- 2 cups loosely packed, chopped curly kale
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat or almond pulp/meal
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup organic ketchup
- 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Whisk together the flax and water in a small bowl and set aside in the refrigerator to thicken.
- Bring the lentils and broth to a boil in a medium sauce pot over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Stir every few minutes for about 25 minutes, then add in the farro and cook an additional 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the farro and lentils are both tender.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange the walnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the preheated oven, shaking the pan occasionally and watching like a hawk, until fragrant and lightly golden. Careful - it's easy to burn them! Remove from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and chop up the onion. Add to the pan and saute 6-8 minutes. Mince the garlic and toss that into the pan too, followed by the grated sweet potato for about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and kale, cooking until the greens have just wilted, 2-3 minutes.
- Line an extra-large loaf pan (or two standard-sized pans, or a bunch of smaller ones, or...) on all sides with parchment. Set aside.
- Whisk together the glaze ingredients. Set that aside, too.
- Back to the veggie loaf! Add the walnuts, oats, and half of the lentil-farro mixture into a food processor (I use my vitamix) and pulse until finely chopped but not pureed. Add to the pan of veggies along with the rest of the lentil-farro mixture, flour, salt, pepper, and a few tablespoons of the glaze (you can alternatively use pretty much any other sauce you have on hand: I've used leftover enchilada sauce and worcestershire on separate occasions with success). Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, but remember, the glaze will add more flavor to the end recipe. Finally, stir in the flax mixture from the fridge.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan(s) and press firmly, smoothing out the top a bit. Spread the glaze over the top and bake in the preheated oven until the glaze has darkened and the edges begin to brown, 40-45 minutes for the largest pan size. (Smaller pans may take less time).
- Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and attempting to slice, and when you do, do so quite carefully.
- Serve alongside extra roasted veggies or a hearty kale salad.
source, adapted: edible perspective
(1) you can use 2 eggs instead of the flax and water mixture; obviously skip the soaking-in-the-fridge step and just add the whole eggs right to the veggie mixture after you season with salt, pepper, and the few tablespoons of sauce.
(2) to freeze, cool completely, slice into smaller portions, and wrap tightly in foil; I reheat by thawing completely and either microwaving (at work, not as ideal) or in a toaster oven until warmed through.