Easy Vegetarian Lentil Loaf
When I was little, one of my favorite foods was my mom’s meatloaf. I liked it even better the second day, when I’d have a packed lunch of meatloaf sandwich with ketchup on white bread. The ketchup made the white bread practically disintegrate, and I still remember the smell of meatloaf sitting in my locker all morning, but at the time it was amazing. Probably not to my locker-neighbors, or even my digestive tract (hello, food safety!) but I’m here to tell the tale.
When I switched to a plant-based diet eight years ago, one of the first recipes I experimented with was a lentil loaf. I remember absolutely loving it, even though I had never cooked with lentils before. I credit that recipe to opening my eyes to a whole new flavor palette of plant-based cooking. I wish I saved that recipe! I’ve tried to find it, with no luck, so I did the next best thing: recreate it. Using some Trader Joe’sstaples, this couldn’t have been any easier to whip up.
1 box Trader Joe’s prepared lentils (or 3 cups cooked lentils*)
1 packet Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice (or 2 cups cooked brown rice)
1 onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup ketchup plus more for “glaze” on top of the loaf
A few dashes of dried sage
A few dashes of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (or any Italian spice blend or Mrs. Dash)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine lentils, onion, rice, egg, olive oil, ketchup, sage and spices and mash with a fork or potato masher.
Spread into a greased loaf pan, and spread on a layer of ketchup glaze.
Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving.
*If you cook your lentils from scratch, I’d recommend cooking them in a vegetable broth for extra flavor.
I added in the egg to help bind this whole loaf together. I’m not sure if it actually helped at all. The loaf was slightly crumbly, but not overly so. I wonder if I left out the egg if it’d hold together just as well, so if you want to keep this loaf vegan, make sure to really mash those lentils, and it should hold together just fine.
The result? Amazing. The apartment smelled amazing. The loaf tasted amazing. And it was so simple! Funk loved it, (and enthusiastically exclaimed, “I LOVE THIS!”) so I’m flagging this recipe as a goof-proof one to make again and again. We paired it with oven roasted green beans, which is my new favorite vegetable to roast. I just drizzled them with some olive oil, sea salt and pepper and roasted in the 350 degree oven towards the end of the loaf baking, for about 25 minutes.