At a time when we’re being bombarded with news feeds from every device that all seem to trend toward the negative, I offer you a good news story everyone can celebrate. Headliner lentil mushroom lentil loaf with quick balsamic glaze unites diners under one common goal – a deliciously satisfying, plant-based celebration of great food.
Not mom’s loaf – exactly
Growing up, our family dinners were usually a combination of debating the news of the day and home cooked meals. I have no idea how my mom managed to cook up a story of ‘meat and potatoes’ meals and accomplish her full time job, let alone the mob that came home shouting ‘what’s for dinner’ knowing full well that full service would begin promptly at 6:30.
Let's make our not-mom's lentil mushroom loaf
I remember mom’s meatloaf although I suspect that my memory is a bit tainted, because I remember looking forward to it. This is contrary to the fact that after leaving home, I went decades without eating it, let alone making it. Maybe it was nostalgia or just longing for a time when the larger world didn’t feel in such disarray, but after my moratorium, I developed a huge craving for homemade ‘loaf’. You can probably guess what happened next…
The ties that bind
Just like mom’s meatloaf recipe, everyone has their own take on lentil mushroom loaf. That said, there are a few requirements that need to be addressed. The first, which will remind you of every burger you’ve ever made or eaten, is the binder. If you’ve tried my baked chickpea burgers, samosa burgers or Mediterranean veggie burgers (to name a few), you’ll recognize my use of rolled oats to bind.
Seeds to the rescue
Although the oats held up their end of the bargain in terms of binders, the lentil mushroom loaf proved to require a bit more binder/thickening agent. Just a little something else. So, I turned toward another standard of many a plant-based kitchen – ground chia or flax seeds. If you aren’t keeping a little container of ground seeds, start doing it. The process is simple, you grind them and store them someplace dry. Not only are ground chia seeds great for setting a lentil loaf, they thicken up a chipotle cream or create the perfect cornbread topping for lentil tamale pie like nothing else.
And an egg substitute
I went with this option after my first trial and the famous crumbling lentil loaf incident because, when my memory kicked in, I recalled the egg my mom used in her meatloaf. Turns out that a tablespoon of ground chia or flax seeds with 2 tablespoons of water makes a perfect egg substitute. I discovered that when making my lentil loaf, I didn’t need to mix the ground chia seeds for this recipe, just 2 tablespoons of hit the mark and the headline in the kitchen was ‘loaf set’.
Reinvention of past recipes and habits
Obviously, I left my past (real or invented) of meatloaf the minute I set out to create an entirely plant-based lentil mushroom loaf. I didn’t even consider lentils as a meat ‘replacement’ as I’ve long since stopped trying to reinvent my meat laden eating past. About all this recipe has left with my past is the word ‘loaf’. That’s not old news – it’s an entirely new headline.
The trick with this loaf relies on fully cooking the lentils. You want them to break down when you process them with the cooked veggies, chopped walnuts, oats, ground chia or flax seeds and all the rest of your ingredients. Try to resist the urge to process everything until it’s smooth. A bit of texture it good in a loaf. You want to see bits of onion and carrots. Texture is another reason I reserved 1 cup of the cooked lentils and mixed them in with a spoon.
Prepare for loaf baking
If our headline is lentil mushroom loaf, then the subheading should be ‘adjust your baking dish accordingly’. Here’s what I learned with respect to that particular new item. If you use a glass baking dish (which is my preference), your lentil loaf might decide to stick to the bottom. It’s a bit frustrating after making your perfect loaf, baking it to perfection and then having to debate its removal from the dish.
If you use a non-stick loaf pan, you can just skip all this over. Proceed to spreading your ingredients straight into the pan. If not, I used my tried and true (possibly over reliance) on parchment paper. It’s entirely possible that this has more to my aversion to not scouring dishes, but if you spread your loaf mixture into a parchment lined dish, you can avoid a potentially sticky situation. Always a good thing.
Quick balsamic glaze
We might all be satisfied with just a ‘good’ headline, but hey, our lentil mushroom deserves greatness and that’s easily accomplished with a quick balsamic glaze which is seriously, 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar accompanied by tomato paste and maple syrup. Because I had my own balsamic vinegar reduction ready in the fridge, I ended up with a nice thick glaze. Don’t despair if you don’t have reduced balsamic on hand, a good quality balsamic will work great. If you go that route, you may want to adjust the tomato paste upward by a tablespoon depending on how thick you want it.
If our happy dinnertime headline is lentil mushroom loaf with quick balsamic glaze, then the good news story is surely that while you might not be running home to gin up mom’s recipes, you can set a happy, healthy table of your own making. You can even direct the conversation away from the gloomy new of the day to more optimistic happenings, because no matter what, there is always a good news headline somewhere. Good food is even better with heaping side dishes of laughter and joy. I’ll take a second helping of that thank you very much – oh and more lentil mushroom loaf please. Peace.Print
a headliner sure to please everyone, lentil mushroom loaf with quick balsamic glaze is a deliciously satisfying, plant-based celebration of great food.
Lentil mushroom loaf
- 1 ½ cups cup dry brown or green lentils, rinsed
- 3 ½ cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium onion (about 1 heaping cup), diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used brown button but any kind or a mix will work)
- 1 tsp. teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp. ground chia or flax seeds
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 2 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (Check the label to ensure it is gluten-free and oil-free)
- 1 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp. maple syrup (you can also substitute another liquid sweetener if desired)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 ½ Tbsp. maple syrup
- Start by cooking the lentils. Add the rinsed lentils to a medium pot along with 3 cups of water and 1 bay leaf. Bring the pot to boil and then to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer the lentils for about 20 - 25 minutes until they are tender. Check the lentils periodically and if they need more water, add another cup. You can always drain them if there is water left in the pot once they are done.
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onion, garlic, celery, carrot and mushrooms. Heat a pan over low heat and add the veggies. Stir in 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. dried basil, ¼ tsp. cayenne and ¼ tsp. ground pepper. Simmer everything on low for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
- When the lentils and veggies are done, remove them from the heat and set them aside.
- Preheat your oven to 4000 F (2000 C).
- If you need to grind your chia or flax seeds, then this is the time. (1 tablespoon of whole seeds will grind to 2 tablespoons). You will want to use a spice grinder as they are too small and light for the food processor to break down.
- In a food processor, add the ground chia seeds and oats process them for about 30 seconds to allow the oats to break down a bit before adding the other ingredients.
- Next, set aside 1 cup of the lentils and add the rest to the food processor along with the sautéed vegetables, ½ cup walnuts, 2 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp. tamari, 3 Tbsp. tomato paste, 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast, 2 tsp. maple syrup and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar.
- Process everything until it is broken down. You can leave it a bit chunky depending on the consistency you like.
- Next, use a spoon to mix in the reserved 1 cup of lentils.
- Add the lentil loaf to a baking dish (I used a 10″ x 7″ x 2½”). See my notes in the post about the option of lining the baking dish with parchment paper.
- Once you have the lentils spread, you can make the balsamic glaze (if you didn’t do this earlier). In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp. tomato paste and 1 ½ Tbsp. maple syrup.
- Spread the glaze evenly over the top of the lentil mushroom loaf, cover the loaf with foil and place it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes, then uncover it and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Let the loaf rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
- The prep time is for prepping the lentils, the rest of the prep can be done while they cook. Cooking time includes 15 minutes of resting time for the lentil mushroom loaf.
- If you have a non-stick baking dish, then you will not need the parchment paper. If you decide to use it. Slide the loaf off the parchment paper onto a serving plate before cutting.
- If you want this to be gluten free, then be sure to use Tamari, not soy sauce.
- Wrap any leftover lentil mushroom loaf in foil and keep in the fridge. To reheat, wrap slices in foil and heat in the oven or heat slices (without foil) in the microwave.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: lentil mushroom loaf