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11/18/2014 11:25 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

A Meatless Loaf for Thanksgiving and Weeknights Alike

Mark Weinberg

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: A vegan version of a childhood classic.

I wasn’t a big meat eater growing up, but I was a big meatloaf eater. It was one of my favorite and most-requested childhood dishes, which pleased my mother, who typically had to brace herself for battle when meat was on the menu. Ironically, one of the reasons I liked my mom’s meatloaf so much was that it was always chock full of the vegetables I loved so much, even as a kid: carrots, celery, and onions. 

This lentil loaf highlights those same vegetables, along with brown lentils, ground walnuts, and breadcrumbs. I think it evokes the dense texture of traditional meatloaf nicely, but I appreciate the kick of aromatics (garlic, sage, thyme, and rosemary) and the fact that lentils give it more texture and chew than any meatloaf I can remember (sorry, mom). 

More: Make a double batch of lentils, and turn some into sloppy Joes

As with traditional meatloaf, you can serve cold slices of this loaf on toasted, grainy bread for a hearty leftover lunch or dinner; the leftovers will keep for at least four days in the refrigerator and can be frozen for up to a month. A ketchup glaze is optional, but I love the tangy sweetness it adds to an otherwise earthy dish -- plus, it makes the loaf look super authentic. I like smothering it with my vegan gravy and serving it with some garlicky sautéed greens. Needless to say, it’s a great holiday dish: It serves a crowd, and it can sit proudly at the center of any table.

Lentil Walnut Loaf

Makes 8 slices

1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted

1 cup green or brown lentils, dry

2 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups diced white or yellow onion

1 cup diced celery

1/2 cup diced carrot

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon sage, rubbed

1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

1/2 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon flax meal, mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water

1/4 cup ketchup, for glazing (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Gena's new book Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is a thorough, relatable guide to incorporating raw and vegan foods into any diet. It's full of no-fuss recipes for every meal, which range from fully raw to mostly cooked, with plenty of snacks and desserts to keep everyone happy.

 

This article originally appeared on Food52.com: A Meatless Loaf for Thanksgiving and Weeknights Alike

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