Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lentil "meatloaf" with fresh sage

Lentil meatloaf; looking like the real thing.
On the way home in my carpool yesterday I mentioned I was attempting a meatless meatloaf (what's the point huh?). I was stating this out loud in an attempt to convince myself that maybe it would be good; I gotta say I wasn't buying it though. Frankly it sounded gross a little bland and not like meatloaf at all. But I consider myself an adventurous cook and have wanted to try a meatless meatloaf recipe for a while now. I used to love meatloaf and mashed potatoes, a taste I have found difficult to replace since I've become a 90% vegetarian. We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up so it was a rare 'treat' to have a meal that consisted of more than 30% meat. Meatloaf night was always exciting. Usually my mom would buy a package of ground beef and spread it out between like 10 meals to make it last. It was only once every two months or so that she would use the whole package of meat for one delicious meal: meatloaf. I can't say I get excited over meatloaf like I did when I was 8, but it is a comfort food; a slight reminder that we weren't completely poor back when I was a kid (though my worn out LA Gears probably gave another impression). A reminder that maybe my life was like the other kids I went to school with who ate steak and potatoes on the regular and grilled large portions of meat for sport. I appreciate my upbringing now that realize it was healthier and has made me more appreciative of meatless dishes. The 8 year old version of me at the time was not so impressed.

I never tell my husband what I'm making as I cook it. I requested that he cook lentils in vegetable broth and cook brown rice for it to be ready when I get home and I would finish dinner. If I leave it a mystery, he can't pass judgment before he tries it - it took about 3 years for me to learn this handy trick. I recommend it for both husbands and children ('communication is the key' is marriage BS).

I always just guestimate when I add ingredients to a dish, but here is more or less the recipe I used for lentil "meatloaf". Make modifications where you deem necessary.
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I prefer organic low sodium)
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (thats the only kind I had in the cupboard)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 BBQ sauce
  • 2-4 tablespoons ketchup (definitely organic ketchup!)
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • Chopped sprig of fresh sage (about 1 loose tablespoon)
    So excited to already have sage in the garden!
  • Salt and pepper to taste
My husband cooked the lentils in the 3 cups of vegetable broth. I strained and saved the vegetable broth once the lentils were done to save for vegetable gravy.

Mash the lentils until half of them are mashed, leave a few whole for texture.

In a saute pan cook the garlic and chopped onion in the 2 tablespoons of Olive oil just until the onions become slightly translucent (5-ish minutes). You could also add some mushrooms and green pepper to this if you prefer. I added a little salt and pepper at this time too.

Lentil rice mixture with fresh sage from the garden
In a large bowl mix the lentils, cooked rice, onion/garlic mixture, breadcrumbs, flour, egg, BBQ sauce, mustard, cumin, some salt and pepper and sage. I also squeezed in about 2 tablespoons of ketchup just because I was on a roll.

Press this mixture into a bread pan and to the best of your ability spread some ketchup over the top to make it look pretty.

Cook @350 degrees for an hour. I only cooked mine for 40 minutes and it wasn't as firm as I wanted. I recommend the full hour and also allowing it to cool for 10-15 minutes after you take it out of the oven for it to firm up a bit. 

The Shed BBQ Sauce. Pure Magic.
I was so shocked how delicious this really was. I think I even used some explicit language with the reaction of the first bite. I think some of the incredible flavor attributed to the BBQ sauce I used; we recently went down to Mississippi and had dinner at The Shed. A local favorite in Ocean Springs, MS. I used the BBQ sauce we purchased and brought home from the trip. Highly recommended. If you make this dish, use a quality BBQ sauce, it really does make a difference.

On the side I made mashed Yukon Gold potatoes with vegetable gravy. For the gravy I just sauteed some mushrooms, garlic and onions in olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of butter. I added some fresh sage, salt and quite a bit of pepper. When the onions and mushrooms were cooked through I added in the remaining 2 or so cups of vegetable broth that I cooked the lentils in, well mixed with 3 tablespoons of whole wheat flour. Continually stirring until thick. Who says vegetarian can't be comfort food?

And the leftovers? Slathered a little more of that magic BBQ sauce with a slice of lentil loaf on a whole wheat bun for a mock BBQ pork sandwich. Can't wait!
The finished product.
Lentil meatloaf, yukon gold mashed potatoes,
vegetarian gravy and organic salad mix.


simple life ain't easy said...

I made this recipe again tonight - I didn't have any bread crumbs in the cupboard so I added an equal amount of quick cooking oats. I also cooked the loaf for the full hour. Very firm, and very good yet again!

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