Glazed Vegetarian Lentil “Meat”loaf
Growing up family dinner was a key part of my life. Every day we would gather as a family for a meal, almost always cooked by my mother (of course there were those days when my dad or the local pizza place made dinner). My mother’s cooking is simple and delicious and meatloaf was one of the staples in her repertoire from as far back as I remember. Because of this, to me, meatloaf is the ultimate family dinner food. It conjures up feelings of simple times past, its essence is warm and homey and it begs to be put on a family table and surrounded by pleasant conversation of how the day went and what we’re planning for our family’s summer trip.
Even though the Fred family consists of just us two and our mischievous house creature, we also try to prioritize family dinner. Our family dinners are admittedly a bit different than those I had in my childhood. We do family dinner the non-kid way – we light candles and have flowers on the table and sometimes make fancy cocktails to match our meal, which usually consists of dishes that aren’t your typical kid friendly fare (though we, perhaps delusionally, think our future kids will be born with highly refined adult palettes). This week, however, we felt like making old-school family dinner. Meatloaf, smashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables – a family dinner that resembles one my mother or grandmother would make (although they would’ve made meatloaf, not ‘meat’loaf).
Glazed Vegetarian Lentil “Meat”loaf
makes one loaf pan, serves 6
I suspect this could be made without the egg for a vegan version, it may just not hold together quite as well.
1 cup lentils
1/2 cup bulgur
3 cups vegetable stock or broth
3 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (2 Tbs)
1 large or 2 small carrots, peeled and grated
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted tomato paste
3 Tbsp bbq sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup cracker crumbs
Salt and pepper
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 Tbs cider vinegar
1/3 cup mix of Ketchup and bbq sauce (fill a 1/3 cup measuring cup two thirds full with ketchup and fill the remaining third with bbq sauce)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and oil a 9 or 8 inch loaf pan
Rinse and drain your lentils, then place in a medium heat proof bowl. Cover the lentils in boiling water, cover the bowl with a plate or other lid and let soak for one hour.
To make your cracker crumbs, place one package of butter crackers (like ritz) in a food processor and pulse until they are the size of bread crumbs.
After the lentils have soaked one hour, drain them and place in a medium pot with the bulgur and vegetable broth or stock. Bring lentils and bulgar to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils and bulgar are both quite soft. When finished cooking, mash well with the back of a spoon or potato masher.
While the lentils/bulgur are cooking, heat your olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat and sauté your vegetables until soft, then add garlic and spices, cooking a minute or two further. Turn off the heat and add tomato paste and bbq sauce and combine well. When the lentils/bulgur are done and mashed add them along with the cracker crumbs and beaten egg.
Now make your glaze by combining all ingredients in the smallest saucepan you have and simmering for 5-7 minutes, stirring almost constantly until the glaze darkens in color, thickens and becomes a bit sticky.
Press your meatloaf mixture into the oiled loaf pan, and spread half your glaze evenly over the top. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, remove the loaf from the oven, top with remaining glaze and broil for 2-3 minutes until glaze is bubbling and brown on edges. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before attempting to slice or serve.