What do you feed veggies at a festive event? They will shudder at the meat options and sometimes will self sacrificingly say they will be happy with ‘just the trimmings’. This leaves everyone feeling uneasy. The usual solution is to make a nut roast, fine if you like nuts, but personally I don’t so I don’t inflict them on others. I devised this veggie loaf a few years ago to feed the veggies in my family and it goes down well. You can serve it hot with a little cranberry or home made tomato sauce but I think it’s even better cold with salads and pickles. It freezes well, wrapped in a double layer of foil. There is a lot of grating and chopping in this recipe but a food processor or mini-chopper makes short work of the tedious side of the prep.
Exact measurements are not that important here so I have given lentil quantities, American style, in cups or you could just use a standard small mug as your measure.
Makes one loaf in a 1lb tin
5 large chestnut mushrooms
Green top of 1 leek
4 garlic cloves
5 sundried tomatoes in oil
1 cup orange lentils
1 dessertspoon soy sauce
3 cups water
1½ teaspoons salt
Freshly ground pepper
6 fresh sage leaves (or ½ teaspoon dried sage or oregano)
½ cup dried white breadcrumbs, eg Panko
A little butter to prepare the loaf tin
Prepare all the fresh vegetable ingredients first by reducing them to fine shreds in a food processor or mini chopper. If you don’t have one of these, then grate or fine chop everything by hand. Heat a generous amount of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and put all the chopped ingredients in, stirring constantly under a low heat with a wooden spoon until they begin to look transparent – about 8 minutes. Now fine chop the sundried tomatoes and add them along with the lentils, soy sauce and water. Add the salt, pepper and finely chopped fresh sage leaves. Bring the contents of the pan to the boil then reduce the heat to as a low as possible, put on the lid and leave the lentils to cook and soften to a mush. How long this takes will depend on their age. Supervise this carefully in the last ten minutes or so as you don’t want the mixture to burn. It should be slightly stiff with no water visible. Take it off the heat and either mash it or use a stick blender to reduce it to smoothness. Let it cool completely. Check the seasoning and adjust it if necessary.
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a 1lb loaf tin with baking parchment and smear butter over the paper. Beat the eggs lightly and add them along with the breadcrumbs to the cold lentil mixture. Turn it into the loaf tin and smear some more butter over the top. Cover the top lightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Take off the foil and let the loaf cook for another 15 minutes. The top should be browned and firm and the inside still very slightly moist when you slide a knife in.
Let it stand for 10 minutes still in its paper and tin before lifting it out, peeling the paper away and turning it out gently on to the serving plate with a sharp palette knife at the ready to slice it.