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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