Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Vegetarian Meatloaf

Now before you go running for the hills thinking I've lost my marbles making a VEGETARIAN meatloaf, give me a minute to tell you how yummy this comfort food dinner is! Meatloaf is another one of those meals I didn't think I'd get to eat again after making the decision to not eat meat. But a few years ago, I came across this recipe claiming to taste a whole lot like meat loaf. Of course, I was really skeptical, but I decided I would give it a try. It surprisingly tasted quite a bit like that good ol' homecooked goodness that I grew up with.
Of course, it is also much more healthy than all that ground beef. This dish is full of lentils, and before you frown your nose at the idea of lentils ... for one, the taste combined with all the other flavors of this recipe, is really quite tasty. Secondly, lentils have the third-highest level of protein of any other plant-based food. Someone who bases their proteins on plant-based proteins would absolutely benefit from this protein laden dish! Health magazine also named lentils as one of the top 5 most healthiest foods as well.
Of course, the real test was whether or not the meat-eaters of the house would enjoy it. I'm very happy to say that Tiffani gave it a thumbs up! That's saying a lot for a rib and pulled pork lovin' kinda girl. As one who picks Famous Dave's as her birthday restaurant every year, I'm always impressed when I can satisfy her tastebuds with something as outlandish as a Veggie Meatloaf.
So without further ado, please open your minds, and check out this taaasty comforting main dish!

Vegetarian "Meat"loaf

2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lentils
1 small onion, diced
1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup grated cheese (cheddar, swiss, jack, american)
1 egg, beaten
4.5 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Add salt to water and boil in a saucepan. Add lentils and simmer covered 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and most of the water is evaporated. I accentuated simmer because this is very important. I learned the hard way that if you continue a rolling boil on your lentils, your water will all evaporate within 15 minutes, and if you're not watching closely, you'll burn everything and scorch your pan.... don't ask how i know that..... Lesson of the story is, SIMMA those lentils! Check frequently to make sure your water hasn't evaporated out before their done.
Anyway, so now you remove from the heat, drain and partially mash lentils. Scrape into mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Stir in onion, oats, and cheese until mixed. In my opinion, getting your hands in their is the best way to get everything mixed up well.
Add egg, tomato sauce, garlic, basil, and pepper. Mix well - again, wash your hands, take off your rings, and get in there!
Spoon into a loaf pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Smooth top with back of spoon and bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until top of loaf is dry, firm, and golden brown.
Coo in pan on rack for about 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges of pan then turn out loaf onto serving platter.

I served this up with some yummy smashed potatoes and rolls. Oh yummy in my belly! Comfort food at it's best. Please give this a try and let me know what you think. I promise you won't be disappointed.

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