As a vegetarian, I have to get creative with “main course” dishes. People typically make a meat or fish of some sort for their main dish, and then supplement their “meal” with one or two side dishes but I don’t have that option. Often time, veggies are my main course – which often times weirds people out because that’s what they would eat as their side dish. (Anyway, I think THEY are the weirdos haha).
Around the holiday season, when friends and families are gathering around the dinner table, is when people REALLY question what it is that I eat. They can’t understand that I won’t eat turkey, not even on Thanksgiving. It trips people up, but a vegetarian is a vegetarian, even during the holidays. Often times, I just eat several side dishes and completely X out a main course option, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have options.
This Lentil Loaf, for instance is comparable to a meat loaf and can be served as a main dish. I love, love lentil loaves, especially this time of the year – can you say comfort food? THIS is exactly what a vegetarian would serve as their main dish option for a holiday meal.
This loaf was pretty quick to whip up, and I made it because I already had all of the ingredients on hand. One ingredient that I considered adding to the loaf is onion, but I didn’t have it on hand so I didn’t use it. If you’ve got an onion, use it – it’d be a tasty add-in (although I liked the loaf just fine without it). My favorite ingredient in this loaf is the ginger – it added a warm, comforting flavor without over-powering and it smelled so good.
- 1 cup lentils, uncooked
- ½ cup mixed nuts, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. ground flaxseed
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch of ginger, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup carrot, grated
- ⅓ cup apple, grated
- ⅓ cup raisins or dried cranberries
- ½ cup dried bread crumbs** (see note)
- ½ cup flour (gluten-free is an option here)
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- a pinch of sea salt
- a pinch of pepper
- 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup cranberry apple sauce or apple sauce
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Cook the lentils according to directions then allow them to cool.
- In a food processor, puree the lentil and mixed nuts.
- In a large pan or wok, sauté the garlic and ginger in oil for about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic. Add the apples, carrots, celery, raisins, salt, and pepper. Sauté for another 5 minutes.
- Combine the mixture with the lentils, nuts, flaxseed, flour, bread crumbs, oregano, and thyme. Stir together, and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Pack the lentil mixture firmly in to a loaf pan.
- Now it's time to make the glaze!
- In a small bowl, whisk together the cranberry apple sauce, ketchup, balsamic glaze, and maple syrup.
- Spread evenly over the lentil loaf.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 50-60 minutes.