Vegan Lentil Loaf
This vegan lentil loaf makes for a lovely vegan main entree for a holiday meal. It can be prepped 1-2 days in advance and leftovers can be frozen!
Oh boy do I have a treat for you today! It’s a vegan lentil loaf that’s like the meatloaf my mom used to make only with lentils instead of meat. It’s amazingly flavorful and works beautifully as a vegetarian or vegan main-entree for a holiday meal. That said, don’t be surprised if you find the meat-eaters in your life enjoying it as well.
Like traditional meatloaf, this vegan lentil loaf has a sweet and savory tomato-based glaze, but it’s homemade and free of refined sugar. Maple syrup is one of my favorite natural sweeteners and I knew it’s subtle sweetness would pair nicely with the flavors of the loaf so I started experimenting. It gives the loaf the perfect amount of sweetness and a bit of a nostalgic factor for those of us that were served traditional meatloaf as kids. Just remember to use 100% pure maple syrup, not the processed syrups sold for pancakes. Literally the first ingredient on those syrups is corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup… no thanks!
The nice thing about this particular lentil loaf (besides the flavor, which is amazing btw) is that it holds together really well and doesn’t crumble when you cut it for serving.
If you want to prep the lentil loaf ahead of time I recommend prepping it fully, covering it with foil or plastic wrap and keeping it in the fridge for 1-2 days before baking as instructed in the recipe.
Leftovers should keep for up to 5 days in the fridge, but you can freeze the lentil loaf too. To freeze, just bake lentil loaf and let cool to room temperature, wrap slices in foil or plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. To reheat, thaw slice(s) in the fridge then heat in the microwave or bake in a 275°F oven until the lentil loaf slice has heated through, about 15 minutes.
- 1/2 cup dry brown (green) lentils
- 1 1/3 cup water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1/2 large onion (about 1 heaping cup), chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 stalk of celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3 Tablespoons tamari
- 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
MAPLE SWEETENED GLAZE:
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- pinch of sea salt
- Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Prepare lentils by rinsing them and adding to a pot with water and a bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat down and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from heat, discard the bay leaf and set the lentils aside to cool. This step can be done in advance.
- In the meantime toast walnuts by spreading them onto a baking sheet and toasting in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a medium sauté pan and cook onions, garlic, carrots and celery until they’ve softened and become fragrant. About 5-10 minutes. Once cooked remove from stovetop to cool.
- Add lentils (reserve ½ cup for later), cooked veggies, toasted walnuts, oats, tamari, tomato paste, ground flaxseed, nutritional yeast, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, thyme, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and sea salt to the food processor (affiliate link). Pulse until mixture is just combined and the texture is to your liking. You want the mixture to be combined enough to stick together, but you don’t want it to be completely pulverized.
- Stir in the reserved lentils and press mixture into parchment lined loaf pan. I used a 9? x 5? x 2½”.
- In a small bowl stir together glaze ingredients and spread the glaze over top of the loaf.
- Bake covered with foil for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for about 8 more minutes. Let the loaf rest 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Store leftovers in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the fridge. Or freeze for up to 1 month.