I made this lentil walnut spinach loaf for the first time over the holidays. I liked it so much that I have made it again since. Something that doesn’t happen very often. Rarely, do I make the same thing twice in a matter of a couple weeks, mostly because I am always trying to come up with new content for this blog.
A lot of the recipes I post here are recipes that I make up myself. The inspiration for this recipe came from my friend Nathalie. Yes, the same Nathalie that I made a couple videos with recently. Nat was telling me about all the delicious vegan food she had made over the holidays, and one of the things she made was a lentil walnut loaf. Sounded good to me. I had never made a vegan loaf of any kind before. Lentils and walnuts. Hmmmm. Thank you Nathalie for sparking my curiosity. Has anyone made a vegan loaf before? If yes, what kind?
A few days later, I found myself needing to make food for several people for New Year’s Eve dinner. I remembered what Nathalie had told me, so I decided to give it a shot. I googled lentil walnut loaf and the first one that came up was from OhSheGlows.com. Angela from Ohsheglows.com has a few different lentil walnut loaf recipes on her site. I took a look at a couple of them as well as a similar recipe from eatliverun.com
I tried to follow the recipe as closely as possible, but couldn’t help but change a few things to make it my own. Nathalie also had some great ideas on how to modify the recipes to suit her dietary needs. Instead of breadcrumbs, she used cornmeal for those of you avoiding gluten and/or yeast. She also used lemon juice instead of the balsamic vinegar. I also added some cumin to the mix.
I did not use any apples in mine, but I did add spinach. Beans and greens baby! You know me. I try to add greens to everything I possibly can. This lentil walnut loaf is no exception. I couldn’t resist. An easy and nutritious addition. A great way to improve your diet without much effort is to simply add greens to the dishes you make whenever you can. Curries, stews, salads, rice dishes, chilli or even quesadillas. Oh, and how could I forget smoothies. I think you get the point. There isn’t much you can’t add greens too. The possibilities are endless. So next time you are the store, pick up some greens. I am talking about spinach, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, collard greens etc.
Why add greens to your diet?
Here are a few reasons:
-low in calories
-high in fibre
-very high in vitamins and minerals
-help boost immune function
-reduce the risk of heart disease
-help with weight loss
-contain a wide variety of phytochemicals that help reduce the risk of cancer
The first time I made the the glaze I reduced the amount of ketchup in the recipe. The second time around my friend Justin was helping me, and I got him to follow the recipe exactly. I found it a little sweet for my liking. This is really up to you. Making your own homemade ketchup is another great option if you have the time. I am not a huge fan of ketchup, and especially not the Heinz variety, but home made is definitely better.
I served the lentil loaf with my roasted garlic & olive oil mashed potatoes and a vegetable on the side. Pretty easy way to serve a group of people. The best part is you can make it ahead of time.
The second time I made this is when a friend of mine, Rosanna, an incredible musician and person (by the way), suggested we do a dinner for 6 on Friday night. No big deal? Except this was at 10:30 pm on Thursday night and I was working all day Friday. Oh ya, and we were all going to go do a 90 minute power flow class from 6:30 to 8:00 before this Friday dinner. Sounds impossible, but fun. I can’t say no to Friday night dinners with good people, good music, good food and of course good wine. I woke up early before work. Cooked some lentils, and prepped some of the other ingredients. Got home from work,and put the rest together in a hurry before yoga.( with my friend Justin’s help, thank god). Back from yoga at 8:30 with dinner pretty much ready to go.
Lentil, Walnut, Spinach Loaf
1 cup uncooked green lentils
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped and toasted
3 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil, or coconut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 cups diced sweet onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup grated carrot
2 packed cups spinach, roughly chopped
1/3 cup raisins
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 3/4 tsp dried thyme)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
salt & pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
Balsamic Apple Glaze
1/8 cup ketchup
1 tbsp pure maple syrup, or agave syrup
2 tbsp apple butter (or unsweetened applesauce in a pinch)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
For the glaze, simply whisk the ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
1. Rinse and strain lentils. Place the lentils in a pot and cover with water. (about 3 cups) Season with salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 40 minutes. The goal is to slightly overcook the lentils so they are starting to fall apart a little bit. Once cooked, remove from heat and mash the lentils a little bit with a fork or spoon. Do not mash into a complete mush, but enough so some of the lentils are broken down and some are still whole.
2. Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the chopped walnuts for 7-8 minutes. Set a timer to be sure not to burn them.
3. Whisk ground flax with 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl and set aside.
4. In large skillet, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin and celery. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Then add the carrots, raisins and spinach. Sauté for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients: the lentils, walnuts, veggie mix from the skillet, breadcrumbs and the flax mixture. Mix well. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Mix.
6. Line and loaf pan with parchment paper and brush with coconut oil. Press the mixture into the pan to form a loaf.
7. Brush the glaze on top. Keep the remaining glaze as a sauce for serving.
8. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes. Pull the loaf out simply by lifting the parchment paper up by its edges. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Here are a couple songs from Cody Chesnutt’s new album Landing on a Hundred. I am absolutely obsessed with this album right now. I hope you can find some of the same pleasure in the songs as I have been. It took me a few listens to really get into the album. So give it a chance. I have definitely been enjoying these songs while cooking some good food. All part of my health and happiness. Enjoy. Would love to hear what you think?
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