Lentil Loaf

Let’s talk about awkward moments for a minute, shall we? 
What do you do when you find yourself in an awkward or potentially embarrassing situation?  Do you try and avoid it?  Or are you the type of person that just owns it? 
I learned a little bit about myself today.  I learned that I’m the kind of person that just owns it.  I own it hard.
Let’s take the gym locker room for example.  There are lots of embarassing and awkward situations that happen in locker room, right?  Like when you exit the shower in your way-too-tiny-gym-towel and run into an acquaintance.  What do you do?  Do you ignore them and make your way to the dressing room?  Or do you say hi?
Well, if you’re anything like me you have that moment of awkward panic in your head, but then you say hello.  Then you take it a step further into that this-is-totally-awkward-but-I’m-trying-to-make-it-not-be territory and ask how they’re doing.  Then you mentally pat yourself on the back for owning the awkward situation… get dressed… put your contacts in… and realize that you didn’t actually the know the person at all.  
So what I  really learned about myself today is that not only am I the person that owns an awkward situation, but apparently, I create them. 

If there is one thing that I can do for you, I hope it is this: prevent awkward situations at the dinner table. Forget the locker room.  Nothing is more awkward than showing up to a dinner party and bringing the exact same item as another guest.

Christmas cookies?  Been there.  Kale salad?  Done that.  Veggie platter?  Forget about it.  Lentil loaf? Now we’re talking.

This lentil loaf was the very first thing that I made when I became vegetarian and it’s been a staple in my home ever since.  It’s one of my favorite items to bring to potlucks and get-togethers because I’ve never seen anyone else show up with a similar item, but it’s also a great main dish that can be enjoyed by everyone. Even meat-eaters will find this dish to be a delicious and hearty veggie option.  There’s nothing awkward about that.

This loaf has minimal hands-on prep time, but you can even cook the lentils ahead of time to make assembly faster.  If using regular rolled oats, I recommend pulsing them for a few seconds in a food processor to make them a little smaller and easier to incorporate into the loaf.  You can also mash some of the cooked lentils in the food processor along with the oats to help the loaf bind together better.

Lentil Loaf
Serves 4 – 6

2 cups water
1 cup grey-green or brown lentils
2 Tbs ground flaxseeds + 4 Tbs water
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup instant or regular rolled oats
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
2 Tbs ketchup

Bring water to a boil.  Add lentils and simmer 25 – 30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is evaporated.  Drain any excess water and partially mash lentils.  Scrape into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Mix the flaxseeds and water together and let sit for about 15 minutes. (This will allow it to become sticky and will be a better binder for the loaf.)

Saute the onion in the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. 

Stir the onion and oats into the lentils until mixed.  Add the flax mixture, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.

Spoon into loaf pan that has been generously sprayed with non-stick spray.  Smooth the top with the back of a spoon.  Top with the BBQ sauce and ketchup.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until the top of the loaf is dry, firm, and golden brown.  Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edges of pan then turn out onto a serving platter.  Top with additional BBQ sauce or ketchup if needed.

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  1. says

    I am always on the lookout for new vegan (or even vegetarian) recipes to try. This is something I know we will enjoy. I’m glad I came across your post! (Found you on Foodgawker.) :)

  2. says

    Hi Tahina,

    Thanks for your comment and your concern. As a recipe developer myself, I think it is really important to always give credit to people that inspire recipes of mine or recipes that I use on this blog. I am a fan of Angela Liddon myself and I love her blog, Oh She Glows. However, until you pointed this out, I wasn’t even aware that she had a lentil loaf recipe! I’ve looked at her recipe now (http://ohsheglows.com/2011/01/01/ultimate-vegan-lentil-walnut-loaf/) and hers is actually very different from mine. In addition to lentils, her loaf contains apples, raisins, walnuts and breadcrumbs and is topped with a glaze consisting of ketchup, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, and apple butter. It sounds amazing and super delicious, but it is not where I got the inspiration for my loaf. My recipe was developed after I became vegetarian five years ago and was looking for a meatloaf substitute. I hope this clears up any confusion! :)

  3. Anonymous says

    Well I for one can’t wait to try this! Thank you for posting, super excited to make it, paired up with mashed potatoes and veggies!

  4. says

    Tahini: Just because a recipe is similar does not mean it has been stolen! If you wanted to address the issue, be woman enough to ask courteously! Seriously, who does that!

    I made this recipe, twice actually, because I accidentally used 16oz of tomato sauce…oops! Second I made exactly. They are sooo good! I am glad I have found an awesome way to use my lentils :)

  5. says

    This is FANTASTIC! I’ve just made it for the first time and had some for tea and you’re right – this is going to become one of my staples. I threw in a handful of chopped spinach simply because I had it, and it has worked well.

    I’m new to veganism, but this makes it so easy and best of all, a tasty lifestyle choice.

    Thanks so much!

  6. says

    @ Anonymous
    Great question! I’ve never frozen it, but I bet it would hold up okay with freezing and reheating. I have made and assembled the loaf, kept it in the fridge overnight, and then baked it off the next day and it turns out great. Let me know how it goes! :)

  7. says

    I’ve made this recipe once and it was sooooo good!!! I had the left overs for lunch at work the next day. I wasn’t able to heat it up so I had to eat it cold and it was still just as tasty! I’m making another loaf tonight to bake tomorrow for dinner. Thanks for this awesome recipe!!!

    • says

      Great question! The flax seeds are used as a binder in this recipe and make it vegan since eggs would typically be used to hold it together. I am not familiar with using bread crumbs, but I know that you can use Ener-G Egg Replacer instead. I used to use egg replacer before I started using flax seeds. Egg replacer is a vegan product made from tapioca and potato starches. Any health food store should carry it or you can buy it through their website: http://www.ener-g.com/egg-replacer.html

      If you end up trying it with bread crumbs, let me know how it goes! :)

  8. Carolyn says

    This recipe is awesome ; I have tried others and there is none like this. I have had left overs from other recipes and the family just love thiis one ; as of left overs none whatsoever instead they are asking for more. Thank God for giving you that wisdom so that others like myself could benifit as well.

  9. says

    Today I was thinking about making a meatloaf for supper when I was surprised to realize what I actually want is lentil loaf. Having never had or made such a thing before I googled “lentil loaf” and found this recipe and your beautiful site! Love your recipes, pictures and tone. Can’t wait to try some, especially this loaf and that tantalizing raw chocolate cupcake!

    Thanks for your lovely work,

    ~ Melinda

    P.S. LOVE Kale smoothies too!

  10. says

    I do not have flax, but have Ener-g Egg Replacer. Should I use an amount equal to two eggs? (I wasn’t sure how many eggs equaled the amount of flax you listed) Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Sonnet, I’m new to veganism. I wanted to try lentils. Your recipe sounds terrific. My questions is, can you use brown lentils? I guess I don’t know the difference. Thanks.

    • says

      Hi Maggie, I actually had to google lentils myself to figure out the difference. I’ve always referred to these lentils as “grey-green” because that’s what I’ve heard them called, but I think technically they are the same as brown lentils. As long as you don’t use red lentils (they will fall apart) you should be fine. Hope you enjoy the recipe! :)

  11. Brandy says

    I hate lentils! Let me say that again. I despise lentils! But I LOVED this recipe. It was amazing. Will make again. 😀 Thank you!

  12. Dora says

    do i need to top with bbq sauce or ketchup if i don’t like either? does it moisten the recipe, or is it just for flavor and therefore optional? what should i top it with instead if i need to?

    • says

      If you don’t like BBQ sauce or ketchup, you definitely don’t have to use it. It mostly provides flavor, but it does also keep the top from drying out. You could always try a marinara sauce instead. Let me know what you think! :)

  13. Anonymous says

    I love this recipe! I have made it 3 times and it always is soo satisfying. Tonight I was all out of flax so I used eggs instead, it definitely turned out way firmer but I still prefer it with flax. Also, I was crunched for time so I put the mix in my muffin pan in hopes that it would cook faster. It did and they turned out sooooo goooood! I was worried they would get stuck but they were really easy to turn out.

  14. Pegg says

    I’m about to start making this and will have to go without the BBQ sauce as we don’t have any. Do you have a recipe for homemade BBQ sauce that you could share? Or a recommendation for a favorite store bought one? Thanks!

    • says

      This recipe is great without the BBQ sauce – just sub a little extra ketchup on top. I’ve never made BBQ sauce at home so I don’t have a recipe to share and I can’t think of a favorite brand off the top of my head. I typically just browse my local health food store and look for the one with the least amount of sugar. :) Hope the loaf turns out well!

    • Pegg says

      Delicious! I made them in a muffin tin, which someone else mentioned earlier. I did use egg white and a little bit of cheese. This is now my favorite lentil loaf recipe, thanks!

  15. says

    I came across your site after googling for lentil loaf. Everyone seems to be raving about it, so I’ll give it a go tonight, while everyone else eats homemade chix soup. I was a vegetarian until I got married and my husband turned me back to meat. I’ve always been grossed out by it (even after 20 years), and lately, after trying Paleo for a while, I just decided that being vegetarian is more comfortable for me. For the past couple years my 14yo daughter has been talking about not eating meat too (gross-out factor), plus she has friends who are vegetarian. I thought this would be a great first recipe to try, especially if they make good sandwiches because she packs lunch….Think I’ll give your site a good go-round and see what other goodies you have. Thanks

  16. Anonymous says

    This is just perfect for the sort of end of the month stretcher, I always have these items in the pantry! Talk about cheap, easy and delicious! New favorite recipe for this poor college student!

  17. Anonymous says

    I stumbled upon this by coincidence. But im a student and I dont have much money, so I tried it today cause I had a lot of lentils left. Me and my friend ate it all in just a few minutes. So now I have to double the size. I think I will make it again tomorrow. This can turn most people vegetarian. Awesome! Thanks.

  18. says

    Sonnet, I am sorry that people have to be silly and accuse of stealing recipes. I have come across several recipes for lental loaf and all seem to be different. Yours looks to be very tasty and simple to make. I will be making it this weekend. My 4 year old just saw the picture of it and asked if we could have it. I will be adding mushrooms to mine for a little extra flavor. Also I don’t know how great this is, but I omit the bbq sauce and use organic ketchup with a little brown sugar mixed in. Adds a great flavor to it and the kids scarf it up. Thanks for sharing! Happy Holidays

    • says

      I’ve never tried it with canned lentils, but I can’t see why that would be a problem. Let me know how it goes with the kimchi! It’s so addicting once you know how to make it! :)

  19. Anonymous says

    Looks amazing! Cannot wait to make it tonight! I cannot find ground flaxseeds though (plus I don’t think I can handle any more fiber!). Anything I can use instead? Thanks so much for sharing.

  20. says

    I made a lentil loaf yesterday, but it was a bit too carb-heavy for my taste (lots of bulgur). This one looks fab. I think I’ll add sauteed mushrooms for extra flavour and sunflower seeds for crunch. mmmm, can’t wait!

  21. Anonymous says

    It looks lovely, I’m just making it now! I came across a little problem though so I thought I’d ask. When you list the ingredients do you mean them dried or cooked? For example, I measured 1 cup of lentils (dry) but now that they’re cooked it’s at least double that… :/ Same with flaxseeds – I ground 2 Tbs and now it looks like 4… So which “state” should I measure out – the dry or the “processed” one?
    Please help 😉

  22. Anonymous says

    I ground the flax seeds and then measured out 2T. Is that what you mean? Or do you grind 2T of flax seeds and use that quantity?

    This was pretty good the first day, but the flavor of the sauce on top seemed to be absorbed into the loaf on the second day. Regardless, my 4 and 6-year-old children ate it both days with no complaints (well, no complaints AFTER they tried it)!

  23. Cassidy says

    There are few recipes I’ve kept from my vegan days, and this is one of them. I’ve only made this a few times, but whoooa, it’s always so good! And so easy, too. I need to make it more. :)
    I follow a Paleo-ish diet, so I “primalized” this recipe a bit. I made it with sprouted lentils and replaced the oats with finely chopped veggies and a couple eggs instead of the flax gel. It worked out perfectly. Thanks so much for the recipe, Sonnet!
    I love your name, by the way. It’s so pretty. <3

    • Sonnet says

      Thanks Cassidy! The funny thing is that I definitely lean more towards Paleo these days so I was just wondering how I could adapt this recipe for fall! Love your suggestions! :)

  24. Peggy says

    I have one word for this recipe…YUM!!! Meatloaf is one of my comfort foods that I no longer eat since my sons have grown up and moved away (it was a cheap yummy dinner when I had no money). I have made your lentil loaf recipe and absolutely ADORE it!

    Thank you so much xo

  25. Erica says

    Anyone know if I can use yellow lentils? Typically use them for Dal but I have a ton and would love to make this recipe without having to buy more lentils.


    • Sonnet says

      Unfortunately, red/yellow lentils would be too soft and they won’t hold together. Grey/green lentils, brown lentils and french lentils would be a better choice if possible. :)

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