Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sprouted Lentil Loaf

Served here with dressed arugula and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Here's another special something for that holiday table.  I tried to keep the ingredient list manageable and open to substitutions.  I used carrots, onions and celery as the main vegetables because most people have these around during the holiday season (did someone say stuffing???).  Feel free to experiment a bit though - maybe throwing in some mushrooms or a bell pepper.   I used almonds for a topping because that's what I had, but this is excellent with hazelnuts, and not too shabby with walnuts.


Part of what I like about this recipe is that it uses sprouted lentils which, as I mentioned before, I love to grow and use in salads, on soups as garnishes, and even in these winter spring rolls.  Using sprouted lentils, you don't have to spend time cooking them.  You just cover the lentils in hot stock while you prep your vegetables.  That's plenty of time to soften them up and prepare them to go into the loaf.  However, if you're looking to make this at the last minute and don't have sprouts on hand, you can substitute the one cup of sprouts for 1/2 cup of dried lentils.  Then you'll need to simmer the lentils in the stock for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the liquid is absorbed.


If you have some vegetarians or vegans coming over for a holiday dinner, don't leave them to pick over the mashed potatoes and pie.  Try this out on them.  They'll love you forever.  And, of course, if you're not a vegetarian but just a person who's lookin for a tasty week night meal, give this a go.  It pleases veg and non-veg palates alike.


INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup crimson lentils
2 T Ground Flax
2 cups veggie stock (or water - or water with 1T veggie stock powder)
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes - cut into strips (optional) *

1 cup carrot - medium dice
1 cup celery - medium dice
1 cup onion - medium dice
2-4 cloves garlic -minced
4 T mixed fresh herbs of your choice - thyme/rosemary/sage

Approximately 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs **
1/3 cup chopped nuts

* If using these, I recommend getting the dry ones, not the ones packed in oil
**I usually just whiz a few WASA crackers around in a food processor until they become crumbs


METHOD
  • Measure the lentils, flax, and sun dried tomatoes if using into a bowl, pour in the boiling water/stock, cover and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 350 and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  • Chop the vegetables while the lentils steep - this gives the red lentils time to soften up
  • In a large skillet, sweat the vegetables on medium/low heat with a big pinch of salt for about 10 minutes.  You want to keep the heat low so that the vegetables sweat and release their juices, creating the flavor base for the loaf.
  • Add the garlic and fresh herbs and sweat for another 2 minutes.


  •  Now that the vegetables are softish, add the lentils and stock.  Dial up the heat to medium and cook for a couple of minutes, until everything is incorporated, the water has reduced a bit, and the red lentils are soft.
  • Now add the nutritional yeast and bread crumbs.  You'll want it to get pretty thick, as in the picture below, where it will stand up on the side of the skillet if you push it with spoon.  Too much liquid and the loaf won't stick together, too little and it'll get overly dry.  


  •  Press the mixture into the loaf pan and cover with the the chopped nuts.  
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes, until it's firm to the touch.
  • Let it stand in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then lift out by the edges of the paper and enjoy!

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