If there aren't that many people left raising their hands, I understand. I must admit, I would have been one of the ones whose hand would have gone down at the "enjoyed" question. But then a few weeks ago a friend posted a picture of her lentil loaf dinner, and my brain went "!!!".
Levi and I have really been working on making lentils a staple of our diet because of their crazy awesome benefits--and the list I'm about to post comes from the Holy Grail of information sites: Wikipedia, but never, ever, tell my former students that!
1. Chock-full of protein (30% of their calories are from protein)
3. High in iron
4. Low in sodium
5. High in dietary fiber
6. Listed as one of the five healthiest foods
7. Crazy tasty!
Now that I've convinced you about the Wonder Food, the Lentil, using my scholarly research, let's get to the recipe for lentil loaf, which is now our favorite dish.
Well, top three at least!
1 c. dry lentils
3 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbs. rosemary
1 egg or 1 flax egg (3 tbs. ground flax seed mixed with 1/2 c. warm water)
1 tbs. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 onions, diced
1/2 c. green onion, diced
2 carrots, finely grated
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1/4 c. raisins
1 c. bread crumbs
2 tbs. ketchup
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 tbs. maple syrup
*Don't skip the glaze! It's well worth it!
1. Cook the lentils. Rinse the lentils under cold water thoroughly. Pick out any small pebbles or gritty items that might be in them. Add the chicken or vegetable stock to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the dry lentils and the rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring those to a boil and then simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender, stirring frequently. This takes about 40 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the burner and set aside to cool.
*Side note: These cooked lentils were so good that we'd eat them plain like this! So if you don't want to go all the way to lentil loaf, just cook these, scoop them on top of some brown rice, and you've got an incredibly healthy and savory (and cheap!) meal.
2. Preheat the oil. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Prepare the veggie mix. While your lentils are cooking, dice and grate your vegetables and apple. Once these are ready, in a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion and minced garlic for about 5 minutes. Once the onions are tender, add the carrot and saute for 2-3 more minutes. Add the apple and raisins and saute for another 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, remove from the heat, and set aside.
4. Process 75% of lentils (optional). If you want a loaf with a smoother texture which holds its shape, you can do this step. Once the lentils are cooled, take 75% of the lentils and place in the food processor. Process them until they are mostly smooth and then add them back to the rest of the lentils. Personally, Levi and I like the chunky texture when we leave the lentils whole, and we don't mind if it crumbles a little bit!
5. Mix it up! To the lentils, add the egg, breadcrumbs, and veggie mixture. Stir well with a spoon. Mash it together with your fingers if you want! I, personally, love doing this. Taste and adjust the seasons as necessary, but I wouldn't recommend this if you're using a real egg!
6. Press into a loaf pan. Dump the mixture into a loaf pan (spray with cooking spray or coat with parchment paper) and press it firmly down. My tool of choice? A rinsed shopping bag! Using this, I can push as firmly as I want without any of the delicious mixture sticking to my hands, and I can smooth it down to remove fingerprints.
7. Prepare glaze. In a small bowl whisk together all glaze ingredients. Spread evenly over the top of the loaf.
8. Bake. Bake the loaf, uncovered, for 45 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Cool for about 10 minutes, serve, and enjoy!
*Adapted from the recipe found at Oh, She Glows.