I’ve been looking for a great lentil loaf recipe, and finally I’ve found one! Unfortunately, I can’t claim credit for this delicious dish. That goes to Dreena Burton and her new book, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. Fortunately, Dreena and her publishers have given me permission to share the recipe for this hearty, savory (dare I say “meaty”) loaf with you.
What I love about Let Them Eat Vegan! (which is also available in a Kindle version) is the emphasis on whole foods. Dreena’s recipes contain no processed vegan “meats,” cheeses, sour creams, and the like and use no white flour; the recipes, even the desserts, are built around whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you’re following an allergen-free diet, you’ll find plenty of gluten-free and soy-free recipes that fit your diet, as well as suggestions for adapting many of the other recipes.
Though most of the recipes do contain oil, it’s usually such a small amount that those of us who are used to adapting recipes can easily leave it out, and Dreena actually marks it as optional in some of her recipes. Many of the dishes do rely on nuts, so bear that in mind if you’re following a completely fat-free diet. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that two big chapters are devoted to cookies and other desserts, and though they’re healthier than most dessert recipes, even the raw recipes look wildly decadent and most are rich with nuts, unrefined sugar, and sometimes coconut oil. If you’re trying to lay off the sweets, skip those chapters because reading them in bed had me planning a raid on the refrigerator and wondering where I could get my hands on some vegan chocolate in the middle of the night.
Let Them Eat Vegan! is a very attractive book, with a clean layout and ample space around the recipes, each of which fits on one page or on two facing pages so there’s no flipping back and forth as you cook. Dreena provides a wealth of information about ingredients and cooking techniques, plenty of kid-friendly ideas, and lots of variations and menu suggestions. An insert includes 27 photos taken by the talented Hannah Kaminsky, each depicting several dishes, so you get a good look at many of the 200 recipes.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that I’ve been obsessed with this No-fu Love Loaf ever since I made it. I’ve served it for dinner once and made “meatloaf” sandwiches out of it twice (using my Tofu-Cashew Mayonnaise, of course). I made it exactly as written, with the small exception of the blackstrap molasses, which I omitted because I didn’t have any. I didn’t miss it because my loaf came out full of flavor, dense with grains and lentils, and very satisfying. Served with a side of mashed potatoes and some mushroom gravy, it was the ultimate comfort food.
- 1/2 cup brown (green) lentils
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3/4 cup bulgur (toasted cracked wheat) (for gluten-free version, use certified gf steel cut oats)
- 1 cup water, boiled
- 1/4 cup natural ketchup
- 1 cup rolled or quick oats (ensure gf certified for gluten-free)
- 3 tablespoons tamari (use wheat-free for wheat/gluten-free version)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons ground white chia (or can use flax meal)
- 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (see note for gf version)
- 2 tablespoons tahini or sunflower seed butter
- 2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon ground fennel (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 – 4 tablespoon natural ketchup
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional) OR 2 tsp vegan bbq sauce (optional)
- Combine the lentils, vegetable stock, 1⁄3 cup of water, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until just about tender. Once done, add the bulgur and boiling water, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for another 8 to 9 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil an oven-proof glass loaf pan and line the bottom of the pan with a strip of parchment paper to cover (place it in to protrude along the short ends of the pan; this helps for easier removal of the veggie loaf from the pan). Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl.
- Once the bulgur is cooked, remove the bay leaf and add all the remaining ingredients (except topping). Stir very well. Transfer the mixture to prepared pan and pack it in. Spread the topping mixture over the top.
- Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 28 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes or so, before cutting to slice and serve. Serves 5-6.
Allergy-Free or Bust! Despite its not having any tofu, tempeh, or TVP, I cannot technically categorize this recipe as “soy free” because of the inclusion of tamari and vegan Worcestershire sauce. These are important seasonings in the loaf. That said, to replace the Worcestershire for a gluten-free version, use instead an extra 1⁄2 tablespoon of wheat-free tamari, along with an extra 1⁄2 teaspoon of molasses, and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar.
Savvy Subs and Adds: If you’d like to add some veggies to the loaf, try adding 1⁄2 cup of seeded and finely chopped green pepper, or 1⁄4 cup of finely chopped celery (stir into the mixture with the seasonings).
Serving Suggestions: Rosemary Gravy is excellent with this loaf, but this dish is equally delicious served with condiments as a burger of sorts: Pop slices of the loaf into pita or a folded tortilla, along with ketchup and vegan mayonnaise (or “Almonnaise”). (Susan’s note: Try it with my Vegan Mushroom Gravy or Tofu-Cashew Mayo.)
From the book Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012. www.dacapopresscookbooks.com
Disclosures: Da Capo Lifelong provided me with a review copy of the book. This post contains Amazon affiliate links; when you buy something through them, a few pennies on each dollar goes to me to support my work on this site.