No vegetarian’s recipe box is complete without a good lentil loaf – especially around the holidays. It’s the perfect savory meal with lentils, oats, herbs, and fresh veggies.

The greatest part about this recipe? It puts an end to the “where do you get your protein?” nonsense. The next time someone asks you this question, roll your eyes (as usual) and then send them here. To my count, these 5 servings have a total of 115 grams of protein, or 23 grams per 340 calorie serving. Beef, by comparison, has 15 grams of protein per 340 calories. Yes, people, plants can have more protein than animals.

This lentil loaf has lots of fresh veggies, tons of protein, a delicious combo of herbs and spices, and just the right texture. For a lentil-and-potatoes kind of guy like myself, this meal is as good as it gets.

Lentil Loaf Potatoes

Makes 5-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup (recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon each: dried thyme, basil, fennel

Lentil Loaf Slice

Step One – Prep

Cook enough dry lentils (brown or black) to yield about 1 1/2 cups. You can alternatively use prepared or canned lentils to cut down on prep time.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Mince the garlic and finely chop the mushrooms, celery, and onion. Add these to a sauté pan with a splash of water and a pinch of salt & pepper. Allow them to soften over medium heat for several minutes.

Step Two – Mix

In a large mixing bowl, crumble about 1 cup of tofu between your hands until it is in small chunks, resembling cottage cheese. Then, stir in the cooked lentils, sautéd veggies, a handful of chopped parsley, and oats.

Next, add the dried herbs. Like with all “meats,” the flavor of this loaf is brought alive by the spices. The combo of thyme, basil, and fennel is the perfect blend of earthy and meaty flavors for our lentil loaf. To get maximum flavor, combine these herbs in a mortar and pestle and gently grind together. Then, stir them into the lentil loaf mixture.

Finally, add a few tablespoons soy sauce and some ketchup to bind this loaf together. Stir until everything is very well combined. At this point, the loaf should hold together fairly well (i.e. if you wanted to form it into meatballs, they would hold their shape). If it’s too crumbly, add a little more ketchup or even a tablespoon of water. You do not want your loaf to be too dry!

Note: store-bought ketchup is not the most processed condiment in the world. Most health-conscious grocers have organic versions that use natural ingredients. But if you would prefer to make your own, it’s surprisingly easy, SkinnyTaste has a great writeup on the process: How to Make Ketchup. I’ve tried it myself and much prefer this “one ingredient approved” version over store-bought varieties.

Step Three – Bake

Add this mixture to non-stick loaf pans (or something similar) and bake for about 50 minutes at 350º F. You’ll want to cook until the top starts to develop a browned crust and the insides are fully cooked.

Allow to cool for several minutes before carefully slicing and removing from the pans. Ideally, serve with ketchup, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies. This loaf keeps very well for several days in the refrigerator and makes excellent meat(less)loaf sandwiches for leftovers.

Lentil Loaf