This truly has to be one of the most frugal recipes we have ever shared. It wasn’t long ago that I posted a simple lentil salad using little more than caramelized onions and balsamic vinegar – and then I find out about this delicious staple dish, also using lentils and caramelized onions as the foundation, along with rice; omitting the balsamic and adding a bit of spice completes the flavor profile. Mujaddara is a Middle Eastern vegetarian/vegan dish which relies on pantry ingredients, with the exception of onions (which are quite economical anyway) and the optional fresh parsley. Perfect for a Meatless Monday.…
June Cleaver made meatloaf, as did all women who dared to call themselves housewives in the 1950s. Each woman’s meatloaf was a yardstick to measure her skill as a home cook. Meatloaf has been made in various versions for centuries, but it was the Americans during the Great Depression who added bread and eggs to the dish to stretch their pennies and added ketchup as a topping.
Like almost everyone growing up in America in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s, I ate my weight in meatloaf as a child. To this day, when anyone says “meatloaf,” the smell, taste and texture of this comfort food fills my senses.
So, we said to ourselves, “Could we remake this comfort food classic without meat but with as much flavor and comfort as the original hamburger dish?” Our answer: “Absolutely.”
I made about a dozen versions of this dish and there are two secrets to our final fabulous dish. First, add diced cooked dates. The dates add a rich taste and sticky texture that are necessary to replace hamburger. Second, use the American classic A-1 steak sauce. When I made previous versions of this, everyone wanted A-1 to drizzle on top of their slices. So == light bulb goes on == why not add this raisin-y, flavor-packed sauce right in with the loaf mixture?!
The combination of ingredients and flavors in this final version are astounding. The texture is rich, moist and firm and holds together while cooking and slicing. This is one of my favorite veggie makeover dishes of all time. Truly remarkable. Please try it – with or without your June Cleaver apron on!
SECRET INGREDIENT MEATLESS LOAF
Makes 1 loaf to serve 4 to 6 people; Prep Time 60 minutes; Cook time 30 minutes
1 cup dry brown lentils
2 medium carrots, grated
1 cup diced Medjool dates
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons A-1 sauce
1/2 cup ground or very finely minced pecans
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook lentils in boiling salted water for 30 minutes, or until soft. Drain well. Place in food processor and pulse until very small bits.
Saute the carrots, dates, onion, celery in the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until very soft, stirring frequently to remove moisture. Add in garlic, cumin, A-1 sauce and soy sauce and cook another minute. Add this skillet mixture to food processor and pulse until very well blended.
Remove from food processor and stir in pecans, rice, bread crumbs and eggs.
Place a tin foil sling into a loaf pan and spoon mixture into pan. Bake for 30 minutes at center of oven.
OPTIONAL GLAZE: While mixture is baking, simmer for about 2 minutes in a small saucepan 1 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1 tablespoon vinegar, until thickened slightly.
Remove loaf from oven and spread sauce on top. Return to oven and bake another 20 minutes. Slice and serve as you would meatloaf.
Other Veggie Loafs worth checking out:
Red Lentil Un-meatloaf, Book of Yum
Vegetarian Meatloaf, Branny Boils Over
No Meat Loaf, Expatriot’s Kitchen
Vegan Meatloaf, Iowa Girl Cooks
Vegetarian Meatloaf, Cathy’s Kitchen Journey
Pinto and Red Lentil Loaf, Cate’s World Kitchen
— posted by Donna
For Meatless Monday, I decided to attempt a re-do of an American classic recipe – Sloppy Joes. I tried a version with a variety of beans, but the beans turned out too starchy for this – not at all resembling ground meat. So then I thought of lentils. These little high-protein gems are packed with nutrients and they are so much easier and handier than using dried beans – no pre-soaking required! Turns out they are similar to the texture I was looking for to replace ground meat.
I used the ingredients I would have used 25 years ago to make Sloppy Joes for one of my kid-friendly desperation dinners – onions, peppers, tomato paste, brown sugar, spices and just a touch of mustard. Takes me back to the big-hair and florescent-fashion 80’s.
Sometimes a vegetarian re-do of a recipe is a distant second to the original in taste. Not so here. I was shocked to find out that this is a BETTER dish than if I had used hamburger. Seriously – much better. Bye, bye ground beef – Hello lentils!
Some more legume love coming your way – I eat lentils more regularly than just about any other pantry staple. Dahl, soups, and stews are the most common, but I’m always up for more.Â Of course, the Legume Love Affair event is the perfect excuse! (Thanks to Susan for the original concept!)…