Today was absolutely refreshing. We had one of our first real days of autumn–a day full of cool, rustling breezes and saturated blue skies, while birds chirruped and squirrels gathered food. But not only the birds and the squirrels, but also our little animal children have been effected by the new weather. Mr. Rachmaninov has been literally tearing up and down the furniture, springing from piece to piece, while Minuet has been prancing around the house like the little princess she is. In addition, the two of them have been trying to play with Lovey, which rarely ever succeeds since she is as skittish as ever.
With the changing of the seasons upon us, all I want to do is throw myself head-first into fall. I want to cook fall food and only eat desserts that harken to this time of the year (hello, apples!), I want to pull out my knitting needles and knit cozy sweaters, and I want to cocoon into soft knit dresses and long cabled scarves. Though some of this dreaming is a bit premature, I can start cooking with deep herbs while baking with alluring spices to make the house smell divine. With all these lovely changes happening, I felt it necessary to share with all of you one of the most tried and true cool-weather recipes in our arsenal.
Almost every vegetarian or vegan has, at one point in time, made or eaten some sort of mock-meatloaf. I wouldn’t consider this lentil loaf to be a meatloaf substitute, though it is similar. Here the flavours are developed with classic cool-weather herbs, onions, soy sauce, and a splash of vinegar. The original recipe calls for a cup of chopped walnuts–adding both texture and protein. While I enjoy it that way, I’ve opted to leave out the nuts for multiple reasons, the main one being that I usually lack them. If you can, or feel inclined to, go ahead and mix them in as you add the lentils. Either way, the result is dense yet creamy loaf that pairs perfectly with a hearty gravy or ketchup and oven-roasted potatoes.
The loaf is also excellent (if not better) the next day, served cold on multigrain bread with ketchup and sprouts. Because the leftovers are so dang tasty, I like to make a whole recipe that results in two loaves. If you don’t want that many leftovers, you can split the recipe and use one egg.
Adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen
2 cups dry lentils
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced fine
1 1/2 cups whole grain oats, ground to a mealy powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/4 teaspoons dried sage
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable broth or water
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
4-6 teaspoons shoyu or soy sauce
2 tablespoons unhulled sesame seeds, toasted (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Well grease two loaf pans and set aside.
Set a large pot of water over high heat to bring to a boil. While you are waiting for the water to boil, pick through and rinse the lentils. Once the water is boiling, throw them in and let them simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
In a saute pan (I generally use the pot I cooked the lentils in), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Toss in the onion and saute until soft.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the thyme, sage, eggs, broth, vinegar, and shoyu. Add in the onions, one spoonful at a time, while constantly mixing (this is to ensure none of the egg cooks). Dump in the lentils, flaked oats, and whole wheat flour. Mix well to combine. Divide the mixture into two loaf pans and top with sesame seeds. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, increase the temperature to 375 F and uncover the loaves. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate and slicing.
Makes 2 large loaves