Vegan chickpea and red lentil loaf


We were "orphans" for Christmas this year..the first time we didn't have visitors or travel plans. I feared we'd be lonely; but while we missed family and wished we could celebrate with them, the day just flew by, the bulk of it  spent relaxing and playing with toys. It was a "Fitty" (Little Monkey's chosen nickname) merry Christmas, and he (and so, we) loved it. lentil loaf2

Without anyone to entertain, there was no reason not to go all out vegan for our mini holiday spread, and it was delicious and simple and happily stretched into days of leftovers: a whole bunch or roasted vegetables (herbed potatoes, and a separate pan of lightly honey roasted beets, parsnips, carrots and squash. There were small servings of sweet potato casserole and chopped kale salad; and, the not obligatory but very welcome lentil loaf.

lentil loaf

Nut, bean, or lentil, packing plants into a loaf shape is such a go-to vegan/vegetarian option to have on hand alongside the usual roasts. It's also easily a sort of culinary clown, the crazy uncle who should be invited to dinner. It's apt to be too dry, misshapen, bland. On the other hand, it embodies so much cheer and festivity! And this one, so far from bland plus simple to tailor to taste. Colorful, power-packed plants, a balance of crispness and softness, robust spices and delicate flavors. Best part, it's so easy to prepare. Just a little chopping, light sauteeing, quick skip to the blender, mix in a bowl, and slap into a loaf pan. It doesn't need monitoring, nor does it raise eyebrows over food safety. Which means, all the more time for play.

lentil loaf3

While it makes for a tasty dish year-round, I can't help but think of this one as a holiday loaf. We may even be making it a holiday tradition. If it could just come guaranteed with the kind of joy Christmas with a 2-year old has proven to be, deal sealed in a hearbeat. Wishing all a very Fitty New Year!

Chickpea red lentil loaf Yield: 5 servings Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes

  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 stalk thinly sliced celery
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked
  • 1.5 cups cooked red lentils (*cook to the point of being mushy/a little overcooked)
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup coarsely ground oats
  • ketchup or tomato sauce (about ¼ cup), or try this delicious Maple Sweetened Glaze from Eating Bird Food
  • *optional--if not gluten-free, 1 slice worth of bread crumbs (I like sprouted whole wheat) does add firmness
  1. Mix flaxseed meal and 1/3 cup water to a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Place large pan over medium heat and heat 1 teaspoon oil. Saute  onion, garlic, celery, pepper and carrots for 5-7 minutes or until onions are translucent and vegetables are becoming tender. Stir in spices and chopped parsley during last minute of cooking.
  3. Using a blender or food processor, blend the vegetable mixture with chickpeas, flax mixture and only 1/2 of the lentils. Pulse in walnuts and oats (you may have to remove part of the mixture to a bowl first).
  4. Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl and stir in the remaining lentils.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  6. Add mixture to a loaf pan lined with parchment paper, pressing evenly with a spatula. Use a spatula to spread a thin even layer of ketchup, tomato sauce or glaze over top. Cover with foil  and bake for 20 minutes; remove cover and cook 20 further minutes. Let cool slightly before serving (can refrigerate and reheat at 350 for 30 minutes).