Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Not Your Mother's Meatloaf

I've mentioned before that while my mother was no Julia Child in the kitchen, there were a few things that she made really well. One, as I've told you, was mashed potatoes, and another was meatloaf. Put these things together and it was a pretty darn good comfort food meal. I also used to look forward to making meatloaf and mustard sandwiches with the leftovers the next day. (Other people do this, right? This isn't some weird thing I did that I just admitted to on the internet?) So, when I took up being a vegetarian, meatloaf was one of the things I really did miss. I've tried a few different meatless loafs over the years, and there are many different ways to approach it. I think I like the lentil, brown rice base the best, but I'd need to experiment some more before I could say that for sure. (And yes, I have tried to make sandwiches from the leftovers. It's not quite the same.)
On Sunday night I was thinking of making a vegloaf, but it got too late and I really didn't have all the ingredients I needed. So I decided to take this task on last night. It really isn't a weeknight endeavor - especially since I worked late, had to go to the grocery store on the way home and needed to get on my bike for at least an hour as well. But, my grand plan was to get the pan in the oven and hop on my trainer, since it needed to cook for an hour anyway. I did follow through on this plan, but once again, we were eating dinner at 10:30. There are versions that use crumbled up veggie burgers, which would be far less time consuming.
I took a recipe and messed around with the ingredients, since there are many variations on a theme when it comes to the vegloaf. Feel free to mess around with this one yourself. The important thing is to have something that binds it together so you don't end up with a pile of mush. This one uses eggs, but for a vegan version, I noticed a lot of recipes used quick cooking oats. I may try that next time.

Lentil Loaf
1 1/4 cups lentils (brown or green)
1 small to medium chopped onion
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup cooked brown rice (I used a little more)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
3 small eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional - this was a last minute addition. I thought the mixture looked a little soupy and thought some cheese might help.)
1 14 oz can tomato sauce
1 tblspn olive oil
1 tspn dried thyme
1 tblspn mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper
salt to taste

1. Measure the lentils into a saucepan and fill with enough water to cover them by at least an inch. Make sure you use a big enough pan because they will get bigger. Bring to a boil , and then simmer until tender, about 40 minutes.
2. Cook the rice at the same time the lentils are cooking.
3. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease an 8x4 loaf pan.
4. In a mixing bowl combine the onion, carrot, bell pepper and wheat germ. In another bowl mash up the cooked lentils, then add to the veggies, and mix in the rice, bread crumbs, walnuts, eggs, cheese, 1/2 the can of tomato sauce, olive oil and spices.
5. Spoon the mixture into the loaf pan and cover with remaining tomato sauce. (You may not need to use all the remaining sauce.)
6. Bake for 45-60 minutes, until cooked through and brown on top. (I cooked for 50 minutes, turned the oven off and let it sit in the oven for at least another 20 minutes. )Cool slightly before slicing and servings

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