recipe: lentil loaf

Back in the day I used to throw mini-Super Bowl parties at my apartment with an open door for anyone who wanted to drop by with a similar motif to my New Year’s parties of bring what you want and I’ll make a meal out of it – usually trying to theme on the cities in grid iron combat. The crew that used to show up have long since scattered across the tri-state area and beyond, many having started families or significantly changed lifestyles, not much unlike myself.

This year, while most people were preparing predictable dips and ordering mass produced pizza-like products and other assorted snacks tailgating in their living rooms in a semi-drunkin stupor I was at home craving comfort food with the fiancee who is anything but a sports fan. We still watched the game, made fun of the performances, giggled at the commercials (which are always the best part, sorry NFL but the games feel too scripted for drama these days) and craved comfort food. Rather than doing the predictable game day fair vegetarian style I decided I really wanted meat loaf, which then becomes veggie crumble loaf normally. However, my Crazy Crumble Loaf was not to be because there was none around so I was forced to make up something else … and having heard rumor lentils can be used as meat substitute I invented this.

A few notes: First, the lentils are made with the tomato soup that was a home made from earlier in January that we saved (veggie stock can be substituted) and it’s basically 3:1 soup to lentils because they should cook to very tender. Second, we routinely make barley berries and brown rice together so there were left overs but typically it’s about 2.5:1 stock to starch the barley takes about 1.25 hours and the rice about .75 hours or so to cook to the proper tender. Finally, the grits typically worked well in the meat and veggie versions of the loaf but I’m told that steal cut oats would help with the flavor and texture profile so that’s something to test out.

If you have time to do a test bake on a small ball to check the flavor that would be good, but if not, don’t be afraid to over season slightly because the flavors will tend to dull during the process and you can always serve with ketchup or a homemade brown sauce or other topping.

1 large carrot shredded
2 medium parsnips shredded
1/2 large vadalia onion finely diced
1 celery stalk finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic microplaned
1/4″ ginger microplaned
1 cup of dried lentils prepared
1/4 cup dried wheat berries prepared
1/4 cup brown rice prepared
short cook (5 minute) grits
cider vinegar
vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (sauce minus the fish paste)
Soy Liquid Aminos (soy sauce substitute)
ancho chili powder
cracked black pepper
basil (thai) julienned
Small mixing bowl
large mixing bowl
loaf pan

Prepare the shredded, diced and microplaned veggies
Combine in the small mixing bowl the veggies with the cider vinegar, soy aminos, and equal parts ancho, paprika and black pepper and allow to marinade
Prepare the barley, rice and lentils and allow to cool to a temperature you can handle
Place the rice and barley in a food processor and lightly chop
Combine the rice and barley combination with the lentils in the large bowl and season with qual parts ancho, paprika and black pepper
Add the grits to the mixture and combine thoroughly
Add the prepared veggies and the basil from the small bowl to the large bowl and combine
This part is by “feel” as it should be mostly firm to the touch but not tough or squishy, you would want it to feel like it should just about hold shape
Crack the egg and add to the mixture and combine but be careful not to overmix
Move the mixture into the loaf pan. Unlike regular meat loaf that should hold form and you can do out-of-mold this may not retain the same consistency so baking in-form is fine
In a pre-heated 350 degree oven bake the mixture 35-45 minutes
Allow to rest in the mold 10 minutes before turning upside down and releasing

If you do it in the mold using foil will help, otherwise a light butter with a breadcrumb or raw nut crumb will help, or if you can practice to the right “raw” consistency you can get it to cook on a sheet rather than in a mold without a formed crust. You can also add pecrino romano or parmagano reginao or other hard cheese for added crust effect. You definitely want at least one of the sides to be crispy


About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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