Monday, January 10, 2011


This loaf, despite being completely vegetarian, has all the familiar comforting taste of a genuine meatloaf, especially when you add the slightly sweet, rich, ketchupy glaze part way through the cooking. And, unlike a regular meatloaf, this one has NINE GRAMS of fiber per slice. NINE. So if your New Year's Resolutions involve eating healthier, this recipe is for you. (Even if you don't have New Year's Resolutions that involve food, sometimes it's a good idea to take a break from meat once in a while. It's cheaper, for one thing, and it's better for you and the environment.)

Part of the secret to how good, and how like a traditional meatloaf this one tastes is because of two secret ingredients. That's right, not one, but two secret ingredients. The first is steak sauce. The original recipe called for A-1 sauce, but we prefer HP so that's what I used, and lots of it. The second, very surprising, secret ingredient is finely chopped dates. I know. But they add a sweet, sticky texture that actually mimics meat surprisingly well. I wouldn't leave them out if I were you.

I'll warn you, though, that it's not as quick a meal to throw together as an actual meat-meat-loaf. If you add up the times on the page of the original recipe, even they have underestimated by at least 20 minutes by their own count. I would say allow 30 minutes for prep, but using the food-processor for everything will speed stuff up. I had to cook my rice as well as my lentils, so that also added time to the recipe, despite my renowned talent for multi-tasking.

I don't want to scare you off, though, because the results are amazing.

So! Now that I've rambled sufficiently, here is the recipe, which I've altered slightly from the original. It makes one large loaf, which we managed to cut into 9 slices. We ate the leftovers the next night and they were equally tasty.

You need:

A food processor (you will save yourself a lot of headache, trust me.)
1 cup dry brown lentils
2 medium carrots, grated or shredded
1 cup finely diced dates (I did mine in the food processor)
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons HP sauce
1/2 cup ground or very finely minced pecans (did 'em in the good ole food processor)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs

Sauce for Topping Loaf:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

First, note that you can do all your chopping in the food processor. You might as well, because you need it anyway to get the lentils the right texture, so if it's already got to be out, you may as well take advantage of it. Do the pecans first, then do the onion, celery, and carrot, and lastly the dates, because they are sticky and you  want to minimize the cleaning effort.

1. Cook your lentils in plenty of boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until they're very soft but not yet mush. Drain them really well and set aside to drain more.

2. Meanwhile, sautee the onion, carrot, celery, and dates in the butter over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes, until things are getting soft (like the onions) and there isn't a lot of liquid. You should stir a lot to make sure all the liquid gets a chance to evaporate. Add the garlic, cumin, soy sauce, and HP sauce and cook for another minute.

3. Pulse the lentils in the food processor until they're smooth. Put them in a big bowl. Pulse the cooked vegetables in the food processor until they're smooth. Add them to the lentils in the big bowl. Mix all this well and make sure it's cool enough to not cook eggs.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients for the loaf to the bowl and mix well. Make a sling with tin foil and put it in the bottom of a loaf pan. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan for easy removal. Spoon in your loaf mixture and cook for 20 minutes at 375ºF.

5. While it's cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and cook on low for 5 minutes, until thickened. After your loaf has cooked for its 20 minutes, take it out and slather it with the sauce. Then put the loaf back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

6. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve as you would normally serve meatloaf! In our house, that means with lots of ketchup.

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  1. My wife and I are trying Meatless Mondays as our new years resolution. This seems right up my ally considering I love meat loaf. I will have to try it out.

  2. This sounds really good. I'm trying make more meals with legumes, so I'm going to keep this on my radar. :)

  3. This looks really interesting. I wonder, does its stay together well? Is the consistency actually pretty meatloaf-y? Because the pictures and the ingredients are pretty convincing, and I'm a big fan of left-overs. I think I'm making this. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Yep, it really has the consistency of meatloaf. It's time consuming, but worth it, especially if you make a big batch and freeze individual loaves for future use. Enjoy!