Traditionally, I am not a fan of “loaf” of any kind. I usually find them a bit underwhelming. So, I felt challenged to create a vegan lentil loaf recipe that was flavorful, savory, and stayed together.
I used dried porcini mushrooms, because the flavors are more concentrated than using fresh mushrooms. Plus, there is the added bonus of using the mushroom’s soaking liquid to boil the lentils.
I chose walnuts and sherry vinegar, because they go together like a DREAM. This recipe for Rosemary Walnut Lentil Burgers proves this point expertly. If I had my way, everyone (without a nut allergy or an issue with either ingredient) would be eating more walnuts and sherry vinegar together.
I didn’t want to use any processed sauces, like vegan Worchestershire sauce or bbq sauce. The flavors can vary widely, and I was pretty sure I could pull it off without them.
So, here we are, with a beautiful, moist lentil loaf on our hands that is practically begging to be covered in a rich, delicious gravy, like Roasted Garlic Gravy... YUM.
This recipe works well for fall, winter, Thanksgiving, holidays or any time you want homemade vegan lentil loaf. It takes a little time to pull off, but it is easy to do and tasty!
Vegan Lentil Loaf with Porcini Mushrooms, Walnuts and Cashews
1 ounce package of dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed very well to remove any grit, sand or dirt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried green lentils
1 sprig of fresh thyme (OR a pinch of dried thyme)
¾ cup raw walnut halves and pieces
¾ cup raw whole cashews
1 ½-2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp fresh sage (OR 1 tsp dry rubbed sage)
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram (OR 1 tsp dried marjoram)
2-3 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce (OR gluten free tamari)
½ tsp mustard powder
½ cup oat flour (OR ½ cup breadcrumbs)
2 ½ Tbsp flax seed meal + ¼ cup water
Salt and black pepper
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add dried porcini mushrooms and the boiling water. Cover with a plate, and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Remove the plate, and strain the liquid into a medium saucepan. Add the reconstituted porcini mushrooms to a food processor.
2. Add the lentils and thyme to the porcini soaking liquid in the medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, and cover with a lid. Boil for 15-20 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig (if you used fresh thyme), and drain off any excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Add the walnuts, cashews and sherry vinegar to the food processor with the porcini mushrooms. Blend until it forms a thick paste, but still has some recognizable bits of nuts. Spoon into the large mixing bowl, and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a loaf pan. Then, in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, a pinch of salt, and olive oil. Sauté until carrots are softened or ~5 minutes. Add sage, marjoram, soy sauce and lentils. Saute another 3 minutes. Taste, and adjust, if needed (does it need more soy sauce?).
5. Add the lentil mixture, oat flour (or breadcrumbs), and ground mustard to the porcini-nut mixture in the mixing bowl.
6. Combine the flax seed meal with water, allow it to “gel up” (~3 minutes), and also add to the mixing bowl. Combine everything together, and taste. Adjust taste, if needed (more soy sauce? more sherry vinegar? More salt? etc).
7. Press into the greased loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 F for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove foil, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite gravy.