One of my favorite comfort foods growing up was mom’s meatloaf. There’s nothing like a big plate of meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy, and peas (okay not so much the peas) to fill your belly and your soul with love. When I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle, I would periodically get anxiety about no longer being able to indulge in these nostalgic meals. I knew I did not want to eat meat or animal products, but I still wanted mom’s meat loaf! I immediately decided that using meat substitutes to create meatloaf would be cheating, and set out to create a legume and grain-based version. I’ve experimented with a few plant-based “meatloaf” recipes and this is now my favorite. It’s hearty, filling, and a recipe I believe could hold its own in a meatloaf lineup.
Even better, this lentil loaf is packed with fiber, protein, folate, iron, copper, and other minerals. It’s easily gluten free (just use gluten free oats and condiments), and quite versatile – you can experiment with using different types of mushrooms and veggies in the base. Top it with your favorite sauce (mushroom gravy, organic ketchup, BBQ sauce) and a side of mashed potatoes for a meal bursting with love, comfort, and flavor.
Hearty Lentil Loaf
Time: 1 hr, 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to medium
Makes: 2 loaves
You’ll need: cast iron dutch oven or large skillet, loaf pan, blender or food processor
- 1-1/2 cups cooked lentils (I use 1 container of pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s)
- 10 oz organic firm tofu (could sub mashed black or pinto beans)
- 1 to 1-1/3 cup oats (gluten free if needed)
- 3-4 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 green onions (optional)
- 3/4 cup of mushrooms of your choice, diced
- Veggie stock or olive oil to saute veggies
- 2 T organic ketchup or tomato paste
- 3 T tamari or liquid aminos
- 1 T whole grain or dijon mustard
- 2 T BBQ sauce
- 1-2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp rosemary
- Preheat oven to 350. Saute diced onion, garlic, mushroom, celery, and green onion in veggie stock or olive oil. Once veggies soften, add lentils. In a mixing bowl, crumble tofu (or mash beans). Add your flavor extras to this.
- Remove about 1/2 of the lentil and veggie mixture into a blender, add some veggie stock and blend until all big lumps are gone. Then add everything into your mixing bowl and fold together, adding oats and taking note of the consistency (it should slightly wetter than a traditional meatloaf). Add extra oats if needed.
- Line two loaf pans with foil or parchment, and spoon in equal amounts. Cover with foil and cook for 40 minutes, remove foil then cook for another 20-25 minutes until top is browned. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving. Top with mushroom gravy, BBQ sauce, or organic ketchup, serve mashed potatoes and your favorite roasted veg. Enjoy!