Friday, September 12, 2014

VEGAN MOFO 2014: Lentil Loaf Goes With Gravy!

My Middle 'Sprout' made me dinner!
Lentil Loaf, rice, gravy, veggies!
So now that you can make gravy, what do you serve all that gravy WITH?
The answer is ... Everything.

For example, this happened tonight.
Lentil loaf.
With garden veggies from my teeny backyard.
And rice.
Why rice and not potatoes?
Because my college-age Sprout has tons of friends, who apparently own no kitchen appliances except rice-cookers, and when they have a shared meal (like every Monday for 'Game of Thrones'), she makes this loaf, and everyone else volunteers to bring rice!
So in her mind, they automatically go together.
And since SHE cooked dinner for ME tonight, that's what we had.
Seriously. Who am I to complain?
I did make the gravy though.
It's a Mom-thing. Gravy is my signature contribution to any meal.

So. Lentil loaf. It seems so "Vegan-Cliche" and it probably is, but you need to give it a chance - this lentil loaf is better than so many I've had.
It's an easy, tasty, inexpensive standard in our house. One of those comfort-food recipes my kids grew up on and now make for their own friends, which I think is completely awesome!

College-age boys are pretty notorious for being none-too-picky, inhaling anything semi-edible, but this recipe specifically (well, the slightly stripped-down, cheaper version), gets requested of my girl almost every week while away at school, because her entire circle of friends LOVES it. And it makes completely EPIC "meatloaf-sandwich" type leftovers, which hungry people seem to love as well!
I'm glad she's carrying on the "cooking for friends" tradition.

Lentil Loaf close up.
Do NOT let the long list of ingredients or instructions discourage you, it's EASY, probably stuff you have on hand, goes together quickly and is a VERY flexible recipe. (I just wrote lots of tips).

Mix and match, leave out or add more of whatever you have on hand, and make it your own! For example, I make the recipe as written, always adding all the "optional" ingredients, while my kids usually leave the mushrooms, Daiya and nuts out, and they always top with BBQ sauce while baking. Do what your budget allows.
This does make a lot. But it freezes well, and as I mentioned, leftovers are the BEST!
I'll be sharing several more of our favorite gravy-accompanying meals in the next few weeks.

Lentil Loaf

  • 2 cups well-cooked, fairly dry, brown lentils (or any beans will work!)
    (TIP: make sure to cook in seasoned vegetable broth or at lightly salted water!! They cook up PERFECT in a rice cooker, by the way)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mushrooms *(optional)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery *(optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot *(optional)
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick or large flake)
  • 2 cups cubed, cheap brown bread
  • 1 cup grated cheddar-style Daiya vegan cheese *(GOOD! but optional)
  • 4 Tbsp. melted margarine
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts *(optional but adds great texture! I'm allergic to walnuts, but they're good for you, so use whatever you prefer, or no nuts if you want)
  • 2 egg-replacer (powder and water mixed in the amount to = two eggs, or flax + water)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cup tomato juice, mushroom broth, mushroom soup or soymilk
  • 1 package George Washington Broth OR 1 tsp. whatever vegetarian broth/bullion powder you have
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 tsp powdered sage
  • ¼ – 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper


- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Mix lentils, nuts and cheese (if using) in a large bowl and mix well.
- Add melted margarine to a large skillet, add onion, mushroom, carrots and celery and fry on medium heat until vegetables start to soften. Add bread cubes and stir more until bread soaks up moisture and possibly starts to brown.
- Add to lentil mixture.
- Stir in egg-replacer and tomato or mushroom broth, mix again.
- Add the broth/bullion powder, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.
- Let sit for 30 min. The mixture should be thick and dense, so a spoon could almost stand up in the batter; It will depend somewhat on how much of the optional ingredients and veggies you've used.  If too sloppy, add some oats or more bread cubes, if too dense, add more tomato/mushroom liquid. This part always needs to be estimated.
- (OPTIONAL STEP) At this point, for a "smoother" textured loaf, you can mix it with an electric eggbeater-type mixer, it's a bit thick but works fairly well...
- Grease 2 loaf pans or a 9 X 12 casserole baking dish. (Depending on how many vegetables and "optional" ingredients you use, the recipe will be yield more or less.) Pour/scrape the lentil mixture in. Even out the top surface with a spatula or fork. (If there's extra, put in a smaller pan and bake less time).
- Bake uncovered 45 - 50 minutes (for a loaf, less for a flatter dish) or until top is golden and crispy and a knife comes out almost clean - (if top is getting too crunchy, cover with ketchup, BBQ sauce or cover pan with foil) .
- Let cool at least 5 minutes. Run knife around edges.
- Turn out onto serving platter or scoop straight from the pan.
- Top with Brown Gravy, (or whatever gravy you prefer).
- Leftovers make AWESOME sandwiches, (if you have leftovers).


Susan said...

This looks so good, just perfect for gravy smothering.

Panda With Cookie said...

Thank you! We're going to make this for breakfasts!