Vegan Lentil Loaf
This is the best vegetarian and vegan meatloaf! This easy lentil loaf is stuffed with veggies and lentils, and is even better than the classic!
I’ve been working on this lentil loaf recipe for weeks and am so excited to finally share it with you. This veggie lentil loaf is hearty and has those cozy flavors I remember from when my mom made meatloaf when I was a kid. If you’re ready to move away from light summery salads, this is a great place to start. I’m not going there yet, but you may want to pin this recipe for Thanksgiving. Just saying.
This recipe developed in a funny way. One night a few months ago, my family was having dinner at one of our favorite local Italian restaurants. My littlest love started having a hard time and went on a little walk with Yummy Hubby. They strolled past a diner and came back to our table excitedly chatting about “Meatloaf Mondays” at the diner. As you can imagine, I immediately began dreaming up ways to make a meatless Meatloaf Monday at home. I tried a vegetarian lentil meatloaf recipe but it was just too mushy, and I wanted to get rid of the dairy. After about 5 tries, I’ve gotten the lentil loaf down.
I remember as a kid loving the sweet tomato glaze, but being a little grossed out by the actual loaf of ground meat. This vegan loaf has the meatloaf flavors, but is so much better. It’s packed with veggies that add a ton of flavor and texture, and bulked up with protein and fiber rich lentils. Not to mention how inexpensive lentil based recipes are!
Most of the time I make lentils I cook dried French green lentils from scratch. Freshly cooked lentils are far superior in salads and soups, but in this lentil loaf? I use the vacuum packed steamed lentils from the produce section of the grocery store. After testing this recipe with both dried lentils and vacuum packed steamed lentils, I’ve decided that using store bought cooked lentils is totally worth the shortcut. I usually get my lentils from Trader Joe’s. If you cook your lentils from dry, you will need about one cup, as they double when cooking. Be sure to use green or brown lentils, as the red ones are much softer.
Important tip alert!
1. Be sure your lentils aren’t still wet from cooking or your loaf could end up soggy.
2. Don’t over blend. You want some chunks of lentils and veggies for texture.
When I made this vegan lentil loaf this week, I decided to ditch the loaf shape and stuff the mixture into sweet bell peppers instead. Be sure to watch the video to get a better idea of the stuffed peppers! I love the extra texture and sweetness the peppers add underneath the vegan “meatloaf” and they are just plan cute, aren’t they? You could also bake this in a muffin tin for mini lentil loaves.
Which do you like better? The loaf or the pepper version?
Vegan Lentil Loaf
This easy veggie filled lentil loaf is even better than the classic meatloaf! Be sure to use green or brown lentils, not red.
- 2 cups cooked French lentils (I used vacuum packed steamed lentils from the produce section. Be sure your lentils aren’t too wet from cooking.)
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1 ¼ cup diced crimini mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon bbq sauce
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ cup quick oats
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 3 bell peppers, halved and seeded (optional)
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- pinch brown or coconut sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet over medium heat, saute onion, carrots, celery, pepper, and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper until softened. Add the garlic and saute another minute longer.
- In a food processor, pulse together the lentils, cooked vegetables, tomato paste, bbq sauce, flax meal, parsley, salt, pepper, oats, and breadcrumbs. You may have to work in batches if your food processor is small. Do not puree, but blend into a chunky dough. You want some bits of veggies for texture.
- Form the dough into a ball and place on the prepared cookie sheet. Form into a “loaf” shape as shown in the pictures. Alternatively, fill bell pepper halves with the lentil mixture and place in a baking dish. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the ketchup on top. Sprinkle with sugar to help caramelize the topping. Bake for another 10 minutes. Let the lentil loaf cool at least 10 minutes as it firms up during this time.