Turkey is usually the center piece of Thanksgiving, but as I wrote in my blog post “Let’s Talk Turkey”, it is the other things we bring to the table that make Thanksgiving interesting. Turkey is pretty boring and I think that this Lentil loaf makes a healthy and delicious alternative to pour gravy & cranberry sauce on and eat with stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the other yummy things on this menu.
You have a few different options with this main dish if you want to mix it up. You can line a “meat” loaf pan with cranberry sauce and press the mixture into the pan and bake, or if you want to get a little fancy, you can wrap the lentil loaf into puff pastry and bake it for a little more savory and decadent version of this recipe. I have also used phyllo dough to make little individual servings of the loaf wrapped in phyllo. My picture shows the loaf version but I will walk you through the other options at the end of the recipe.
I like to use French lentils because they hold their shape better than other types of lentils; making the loaf bind together without it becoming mushy.
- 1 cup of French green lentils
- ½ cup of roasted walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup of celery finely chopped
- 1 cup of carrots finely chopped
- 2 cups of Shitake Mushrooms sliced (you can use cremini or regular mushrooms too – I just love the texture of the shitake)
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¾ oats
- ½ cup oat flour or gluten free flour
- 2 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (I like No Chicken Broth from Imagine).
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (I like the Not Chick’N bouillon cubes by Edward & Son)
- 3 tablespoon of ground flax (dissolved in 1/3 Cup of warm water)
- ½ Cup dried cranberries
Options: Cranberry Sauce, Vegan Puff Pastry or Vegan Phyllo Dough
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Rinse the lentils and put in a medium sauce pan with the vegetable broth and the vegetable bullion. Cover and put on medium heat; cooking for about 30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are soft. Remove from stove and take a potato masher and mash up the lentils right in the pan.
- While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onion, celery, carrots and mushrooms until soft and well cooked. Add in the garlic and spices and cook for a few minutes more.
- Using a large bowl, mix together the mashed lentils, the sautéed vegetables, the flax & water mixture (which should be thickened in 5-10 minutes after you mix together), roasted walnuts, oats, flour and dried cranberries. Mix well.
- If you are going to bake this in a loaf pan, I put a piece of parchment paper into the pan. It makes it so much easier to get the loaf out in one piece..not to mention it is much easier to clean the pan after. Plus..I do not like cooking spray. I am a big fan of parchment paper. After lining the pan with parchment (make sure it hangs over the edge so you can pull the loaf out easily when done baking) put about a cup of cranberry sauce on the bottom of the pan. I like to make my own (straight up recipe off the cranberry bag with water and sugar) but you can always use canned cranberry sauce in a pinch. Press half of the mixture into a loaf pan. This recipe makes 2 loaves. You can either save the rest for another time or if you are cooking for a larger crowd – cook both loaves. I usually make the mixture a day or two before Thanksgiving which is great when you can get a few things done ahead of time to make Thanksgiving Day a little less stressful.
- Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Let it sit for a few minutes before pulling it out of the pan and plating it cranberry side up. You can add a little more cranberry sauce and top with mushroom gravy for a pretty presentation.
- If you want a more decadent and savory option, you can bake the loaves in a puff pastry. I have a hard time finding vegan puff pastry sometimes but when I do find it, my kids really enjoy this version of the loaf. If you have access to vegan puff pastry, thaw the dough and roll it out a little so that you make the rectangle a little bit larger. I spread some cranberry sauce on the puff pastry-but if you are not a big fan of cranberry sauce, you can omit this step. Take half of the lentil mixture and make it into a loaf with your hands. Place the loaf in the center of the puff pastry and fold the sides over tightly. Flip it over so that the smooth side bakes on top. If you want to get fancy, you can take a small piece of the dough before folding the loaf up and use a pumpkin or leaf shaped cookie cutter and place it on top of the loaf. I like to use a little almond milk brushed on top of the puff pastry before baking. Bake for 45 minutes.
- The reason I found the phyllo dough option is because it is a lot easier to find vegan phyllo dough. If you want to try this version, it makes for a fun presentation with a platter of individual size phyllo dough wrapped lentil loaf balls. Thaw the phyllo dough on the counter for about two hours. Take one sheet and fold in half…and then fold it in half again. The take a ¾ cup scoop of the mixture and then take the sides of the phyllo dough and wrap up and sort of twist it at the top. Brush with a little olive oil and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.