This glazed vegan loaf is made with lentils, walnuts, vegetables, oats, polenta and chia seeds, which altogether combine to create a savoury and flavourful loaf for those times when you just need some good old fashioned comfort food.
My childhood memories feature plenty of old fashioned meatloaf, usually served with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables. It's a safe and comforting meal, which sometimes is just what you need. It's been a very long time since I've had traditional meatloaf, but I do very much enjoy a good lentil and nut based loaf from time to time, when that comfort food mood strikes.
This loaf uses canned brown lentils for a convenient and quick base. Walnuts, oats, polenta and chia seeds add protein, savoury flavours, texture and binding ability to ensure this loaf turns out moist and sliceable. It's quick to throw together, then you can forget it while it bakes. Perfect if you have young children and don't actually want to be in the kitchen during witching hour, trying to cook with children climbing up your legs. That's me, on too many days to count.
I've kept the flavours pretty straight forward here, with just a bit of garlic, cumin and thyme thrown in. Change up the herbs and spices to suit yourself and what you've got in the pantry.
The finishing touch is a sticky tomato glaze which caramelises around the edges and provides a delicious counterpoint. It might seem a bit odd putting so much wet sauce mixture onto the loaf, but it dehydrates as it cooks and comes out just right in the end.
It's best to let the loaf cool a little in the tin before lifting it out to slice, as it's a bit fragile when first cooked. It makes fantastic leftovers and reheats well, as it's even firmer once it's had a day or two in the fridge.
For the loaf:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 carrot peeled and grated
- 1 red capsicum (bell pepper) finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 can brown lentils drained
- ½ cup walnuts roughly chopped
- ½ cup rolled oats (gluten free if required)
- ½ cup canned chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup instant polenta
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
For the glaze:
- 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup smoky bbq sauce
- Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
- A little salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 190C (375F) fanbake, and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
- Heat olive oil in a frypan (skillet). Add onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes to soften.
- Add carrot, red capsicum, thyme, cumin and cayenne. Cook over a low-medium heat for 5-10 minutes or until softened and excess moisture has cooked off.
- Put drained lentils, carrot mixture, walnuts, oats and tomatoes into a food processor. Pulse to combine. You want it well mixed but with some remaining texture. Scrape mixture into a bowl, stir through polenta and chia seeds, then season to taste.
- Tip mixture into your lined loaf tin and smooth evenly.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- While the loaf is cooking, prepare the glaze. Put all glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until reduced a little, and thick and glossy.
- When the 30 minutes is up, pour the glaze over the loaf, smooth it out evenly, then return the loaf to the oven for a further 30 minutes (for a total cooking time of one hour).
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before lifting out of the tin and slicing.
- Serve with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and a spoonful of your favourite chutney or relish.