It’s the week of lentils and of course that means I’m testing lentil recipes (The last two weeks didn’t have much direction. I felt like I was lost in the woods with a spinning compass.) Lentils are amazingly versatile and like I said in my last post, super nutritious.
I grew up eating lentils, usually in soup form and I have some very fond memories of them. As I started to cook on my own, I experimented with other ways to eat lentils. Going Vegan has given me even more incentive to do this, as I’m not relying on meat to flesh out a meal any longer.
They can be used to make anything from the aforementioned soup to meat loaf. Yes, you heard me right. Meat loaf. (Well, meatless loaf I suppose since there’s no actual meat.) I’m sure you all have your own theories and opinions on meatloaf. I always enjoyed it, probably because the stuff I had as a kid was packed with fatty meat and loads of ketchup. (Hello processed sugar! A child’s favorite food group.).
Lentil loaf is something else entirely. It’s chewy and moist (I feel the need to add “if prepared correctly” here. I may have some experience messing up recipes. Oops) and unlike the fatty processed meatloaf I had as a kid, this is nutritious and delicious.
I knew I wanted to make some sort of pho-meat based thing for this week’s recipe test and as usual I went to our friendly neighborhood Pinterest board to search for it. I found lots of recipes for lentil style loaf, but one of them stood out. Spicy BBQ lentil Loaf by thevegan8.com. (Seriously how could you turn down a recipe that sounds that delicious?) You can find the recipe here.
I love BBQ, I love a little heat in my food and the texture and look of the dish was extremely appealing. I looked through the ingredient list and the recipe itself looked easy and straight forward. I should have no trouble making it.
Yeah, about that…famous last words and all. (What kind of post would it be if I didn’t tell you about my mishaps in the kitchen.)
You’ve all heard about the importance of reading a recipe all the way through before you make it. It’s good advice, and you should do it. (Yes, I totally read through the recipe and since the recipe’s I make are from blogs, I also read the blog post associated with them.) What people don’t tell you, (frankly they shouldn’t have to but as exemplified by my mess in the kitchen, It does warrant repeating) is that you should read the package of the ingredients you grab from the pantry.
I mean how silly will you feel if you grab say, split peas instead of lentils and didn’t notice until a week later. Who would possibly do that? I mean it’s so easy to read a package. Right?
As you have all likely figured out by now, I grabbed split peas instead of lentils and shock of shocks, my recipe didn’t turn out right. I wish I could say this has never happened to me before and will never happen again, but that would be a lie. In fact, I did it twice in one week and didn’t realize it until the third time I almost added split peas instead of lentils. (Yes, I’m blonde, but no my mistakes aren’t caused by my hair color. They’re caused by shear silly inattentiveness.)
The lentil loaf came out (not surprisingly considering I used split peas) very dry. At first, I thought it was because I live in Colorado and due to the higher elevation, I need more liquid in things I bake. I was all ready to blame elevation for the recipe turning out the way it did before I realized my mistaken pea swap.
Even before I realized my mistake I had put this loaf on my “to be remade” list. It might even end up on a weekly or biweekly rotation. It’s easy and super yummy. The flavor of the homemade BBQ sauce the author makes for the recipe was fantastic. (Yes, I used her BBQ sauce instead of my own. At some point I may play around with the BBQ sauce portion of the loaf but that is for later.)
The loaf had the perfect amount of heat, spicy and delicious without overpowering my taste buds. Even when it was super dry it was chewy enough to have a pleasing texture (once I drowned it in more sauce of course.) but once I remade it with the proper ingredients it was even better and I didn’t have to drown it in sauce to make it edible.
Lots of “meatloaf” style dishes come out dry and crumbly even when they’re made with real meat. This recipe came out great. Even when I used split peas it held its shape and adding more BBQ sauce made it moist enough to eat.
The flavor profile changed for the better when I used lentils instead of peas. (I hope no one is shocked by this. Split peas are definitely not lentils). And the chewiness the author promised in the blog really came through.
My only complaint with this recipe is the length of time it takes to make it, but that is a common problem with all meatloaf recipes. They’re a Sunday dinner kind of meal, not a throw together after work sort of dinner. You need to set aside a couple hours for prep and bake time. Some of the parts can be made ahead (like cooking the lentils and whisking up the BBQ sauce) but you still have to have time to mix the ingredients and bake it in the oven.
That being said, it’s a very solid choice for a nice sit-down meal over the weekend and the meatloaf reheated nicely as leftovers. I paired mine with green beans but it would be great with mash potatoes as well.
On Friday, I’ll be sharing my favorite recipe using lentils, lentil curry. Do you have a favorite recipe using lentils? I’d love to see it.
I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or medical professional of any kind. I am just a regular person sharing my personal journey on a way to a healthier, more satisfying life. Consult with a medical professional before starting any new exercise or diet plan. Please see full disclaimer here.