Classic Meat(less) Lentil Loaf

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Lentil Loaf Potatoes

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.

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

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 Classic Meat(less) Lentil Loaf

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30 Comments

  1. Andrew, do you press the tofu first? Thanks!

    • I have been trying meatless loaf recipes for a while but they all failed:( Either don’t stick together and mushy or too rubbery or no taste at all!! I bet this is IT!!!

    • I did not press the tofu, but did of course drain any excess water.

      I have tried many recipes as well, but I really like this one and I hope you do too. Give it a shot and let me know! :)

  2. Sprouting the lentils would make this recipe ideal. I swear by sprouting- more proteins and enzymes, but no phytic acids to befoul the castle. I can’t wait to make this for the holidays!

  3. Hey, I absolutely can’t stand mushrooms, smell or taste. Any suggestions for a substitute? I’d love to make this, as I love everything I’ve made from your site, but can’t hang with the shrooms. :)

    • Hey Tara! Hmmm. The “easiest” thing would be to add more oats or tofu, but that wouldn’t be very exciting… You know what I’ve seen others do with lentil loaves? Walnuts. You may try adding 1/4 cup of walnut pieces to your loaf and that could work nicely!

    • How about eggplant as a substitute? You can broil it first so it is already soft like the mushrooms would be? (Salt it & broil it 4 mins & then flip & broil for another 3 mins).

  4. Any suggestions as to what I can use as a substitute for the tofu? I’m allergic to soy. Thanks :)

    • Hi Patricia! Hmm, that might be tough because the tofu does make up a big portion of this recipe. I can’t promise it would work, but if you added a little extra mushrooms, lentils, and oats, you might be able to get by without the tofu. Good luck! :)

    • We made this last night and didn’t have tofu around and used two eggs instead, and it worked great! So delicious!

  5. I just found this recipe for Soy free Tofu, so now hopefully I can make your meatless meatloaf. I hope to try this in the coming week :) SO excited!
    http://littlefigblog.com/2013/01/27/shan-tofu-easy-delicious-soy-free/

    I need to find meatless, filling, satisfying meals for my family. They all seem to still think they need meals with meat.

    • That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! Thanks for sharing your find… I’m trying that asap, just for fun.

      Ah, make enough delicious meatless meals and your family will come around eventually :)

      • :) That is my goal. I know it will take a little time, but I am hoping that it won’t take long for them to get used to the idea that my home is now a vegan home 8-|
        No dairy or meat allowed

  6. I can’t have tofu because of thyroid issues , you could use ricotta cheese !

  7. I made this earlier this week. When I first brought it out of the oven and flipped it onto a plate it looked fine, but then it totally crumbled when I cut it! I was so disappointed… but then the next day after it had set in the fridge overnight when I cut a piece and re-heated it it stayed together perfectly! I’m not sure what I did wrong initially though– although I did add 2 extra tablespoons of ketchup. But man this tastes great.

    • Hey Allison! Sorry it didn’t hold together at first… Lentil loaf stability can be hit and miss sometimes, they need just the right amount of moisture and ingredients. But most importantly… I’m glad it tastes great! :)

  8. Mine didn’t hold together either but it really didn’t matter because it…was… DELICIOUS!

  9. Funkipickle says:

    Made this last night and it was amazing, held together fine for us. I love fennel so nice to have this with it. Made my favourite vegetarian gravy , mash, carrots and green beans. Even my fussy husband scoffed it! Thank you!

  10. LisaDawnn says:

    This was incredible. I love to experiment, never really measure and rarely follow directions to a tee (smile)
    So seeing I didn’t have any celery, I added green and red peppers instead. I also minced up one small jalapeno pepper just for a kick-back. I substituted cilantro for parsley and eliminated the ketchup all together. I drizzled a little soy sauce on the top of loaf which seeped in while it cooked.

    I baked it with a small amount of olive oil so the bottom came out crisp as well. It held together beautifully.

    I am so pleased. Thank you.

    • THAT’S How you do it, Lisa! I love it when people remix my recipes even more than when they follow the directions. :) Your version sounds awesome, thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  11. Dumb question – what size loaf pan(s) are you using?

  12. Anonymous says:

    I made this last night for a large group of non-vegan friends, and it was popular! I reduced the soy sauce to 2 Tbsp, but otherwise kept it as it. Mine also didn’t stay together well, but if I’d let it cool before slicing, I think it would’ve! Thank you for a great recipe.

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