This Gluten Free Walnut Lentil Loaf is vegetarian done right. It was a home run in our house. Mike always enjoys it and loves the fact that he gets to have it for lunch the next day as well. He loves it cold just as much as he does out of the oven. I first made this when I received my Oh She Glows Cookbook in the mail. It was one of the first recipes I made from this amazing book. If you are looking to add more plant based recipes into your routine then make sure you grab her book-it is FABULOUS! I edited a few things to make this recipe my own but overall all the credit goes to Angela Liddon
For the Walnut Lentil Loaf:
2 (14-ounce) cans of lentils, drained and rinsed- I like to use the ones from Trader Joes that are already cooked. They are in the produce section.
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups finely chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup grated carrot- I buy the bag of shredded carrots from Trader Joes to save on time.
1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple
1/3 cup dried cranberries (chopped) or raisins- Try to use organic if possible, dried fruit is heavily sprayed with icky things
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Fine sea salt, to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons ground flax
1/2 cup oat flour- If you need to use gluten free check out the gluten free oats from Trader Joes and make your own.
1/2 cup gluten free bread crumbs- You can make your own or use any store bought gluten free crumbs. I like to use Ian’s brand.
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
For the Balsamic-Apple Glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce or apple butter
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan, and then line it with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the length of the pan. If using canned lentils, rinse and drain them in a colander. If using lentils cooked from scratch, follow the directions in the note below. After draining, add them into a very large bowl and mash the lentils with a potato masher. The goal is to create a lentil paste while still leaving about 1/3 of the lentils intact.
Spread the chopped walnuts onto the baking sheet. Toast the nuts for 8 to 12 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden. Set aside to cool. Increase the oven heat to 350°F.
Add the oil into a large skillet, and increase the heat to medium. Stir in the onion and garlic and season with a pinch or two of salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the celery and carrot, and continue cooking for another few minutes.
Finally, stir in the grated apple, dried cranberries (or raisins), thyme, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper. Cook for a couple minutes longer. Into the bowl with the mashed lentils, stir in the walnuts, ground flax, oat flour, ( If you want to make your own oat flour see tips below) and bread crumbs until combined. Stir in all of the the veggie mixture until combined. Add the red pepper flakes, if using. Taste and add more salt (I usually add another 1/2 teaspoon).
Press all of the lentil loaf mixture into the prepared loaf pan. Pack it down as firmly as you can as this will help it hold together after cooling.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, applesauce, vinegar, and maple syrup until combined. Using a pastry brush (or simply a spoon), spread all of the glaze over top of the lentil loaf. Bake the lentil loaf, uncovered, at 350°F for 50 to 60 minutes until the edges start to darken and the loaf is semi-firm to the touch. Place the loaf pan directly onto a cooling rack for 15 minutes. Then, slide a knife around the ends to loosen, and carefully lift out the loaf (using the parchment paper as “handles”) and place it directly onto the cooling rack for another 30 minutes. After cooling, carefully slice the loaf into slabs. Serve immediately. The loaf will continue to firm up as it cools. Some crumbling is normal if sliced while warm.
* If you’d like to make lentils from scratch, swap the two cans of lentils for 1 cup of uncooked lentils. Add the lentils into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-high, and then simmer the lentils uncovered for 20 to 30 minutes until tender. Drain well.
* If you want to make your own oat flour all you do is take old fashioned oats and put them in a high speed blender and let it rip. You can have your very own oat flour in seconds. I takes my blendtec 15 seconds to grind the oats into four.
I know this recipe seems daunting but I promise it is worth it. Crank your music and just be prepared to be in the kitchen for awhile. Remember this stuff is great the next day so consider it two meals with one time in the kitchen. Let me know what you think.