I wasn’t quite ready for you. Even after you dragged your feet. And let 60-degree days creep into my December. I am still not prepared for your arrival.
I’m sorry. I wish I liked you. I really do. But for now, I cope with comforting foods. And warm blankets and faces and seven layers of sweaters.
As a vegetarian, sometimes you just need something comforting, and it’s not always as easy to identify those quintessential items as it is in the meat kingdom.
Sure, there is soup. Which I adore.
But sometimes I want mashed potatoes, and gravy, and something hearty. And wholesome, too, of course.
This meal satisfies all of the above.
You could consider lentil loaf akin to meatloaf…that is, if you don’t think meatloaf is yucky.
It looks a little dull, but if prepared right, it’s oozing with herbs and umami flavor and warmth that radiates up from your plate.
It also happens to be packed with some rather superb ingredients, like lentils and walnuts, and in this case, tomatoes and collards, too. Those latter two actually bring some color to this particular lentil loaf recipe.
I like to serve lentil loaf alongside some of my other favorite wintry dishes of comfort. However, the sides for this dish are endless.
It must also be mentioned, my absolute favorite is to sandwich the leftovers between two slices of whole grain bread with a healthy handful of sprouts and good smear of ketchup and/or mustard on top. No reheating needed.
Ketchup isn’t a bad condiment for it when hot, either. I’m always torn between that and a veggie gravy. Try them both out, and decide what appeals most to you.
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1.5 cups chopped collards
- 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, liquid drained
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh sage
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 cup dried brown lentils, cooked according to package directions
- 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
- 2 eggs, beaten (to make vegan, swap with 3 Tbsp. flaxseed meal)
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- Ketchup/mustard/gravy, optional
- Preheat oven to 350F. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high. Saute onion, celery and garlic until onion nears translucent. Add collards and cook for another three minutes. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste and fresh herbs. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Place cooked lentils in a large bowl. (You should have about 2 1/4 cups of cooked lentils.) Add remaining ingredients aside from the ketchup/mustard/gravy. Stir in the veggie mixture until all the ingredients are combined.
- Grease a loaf pan that is approx. 9"x5". Press lentil contents into the loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place oven on 410F, uncover, and cook for another 20 minutes, or until top is browned and center is hot.
- Serve aside a dollop of ketchup, mustard or gravy, if using.
You may swap the fresh herbs if needed for dried herbs. Use 1.5-2 tsp. dried thyme and 1/2 tsp. dried sage. Add dried herbs at the very end of sautéing the veggies, and cook for another two minutes, until fragrant.
Leftovers also make for great sandwich material. Place on whole grain bread with a smear of ketchup and/or mustard and a healthy handful of sprouts.