My wife Liz (you know, the one who usually gives you these recipes) loves to cook, but she can get a little overwhelmed with non-stop meal planning and preparation. She spends all day making food at work, so it's nice for her to take a break a couple of times a week. I really only have a few meals that I turn to, so I'm trying to expand my menu. We found this recipe for lentil loaf that appeals to my manly carniverous past and my current plant-based diet.

I'm nostalgic about the meatloaf my mom made when I was growing up. I loved to crunch up Corn Flakes and mix it all up with the ground meat, eggs, and spices. I guess I just thought it was special because I got permission to handle the food with my hands and squish it between my fingers. Sure, it grosses me out a bit now to think of doing that with meat but, as a kid, it was pretty badass.

The loaf doesn't come out quite as dense as a regular meatloaf would, but it holds together well with the mushy lentils and the flaxseed meal to bind it all together. It may just help clear out some random veggies you have lying around in the refrigerator too.

Here's the recipe I used (and modified slightly), courtesy of The Simple Veganista.

Lentil Loaf

Loaf
1 cup dry lentils (I used red, but I've also used green for this)
2 1/2 cups water (I used vegetable broth, which gives it more flavor)
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for sauteing (or steam saute using 1/3 cup water)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 small bell pepper, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced or grated
1 celery stalk, finely diced

Add some mushrooms if you like 'em (I added about 5 or 6 finely diced white button mushrooms that we needed to use).

3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup oat flour or finely ground oats (I used 1/4 cup of pastry flour because I really didn't want to blend anything)
1 heaping teaspoon dried thyme (I didn't measure the spices so don't be afraid to add more)
1/2 heaping teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder & onion powder
cracked pepper & sea salt to taste

Glaze (If you like to have a lot of glaze, you'll want to be generous in these portions)
3+ tablespoons organic ketchup (I used Liz's secret, homemade ketchup)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1+ tablespoon pure maple syrup

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In small bowl combine flaxseed meal and 1/3 cup water. Put it in the refrigerator. You'll use it as a binder in the loaf.

Rinse lentils. In large pot, add 2 1/2 cups water with lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and set aside to cool. I overcooked mine, but the mushier they are the better; otherwise you'll need to puree about 3/4 of them once they're cooled.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I think I actually waited to do this until after I chopped up all of the vegetables because, even though I can follow directions well, I don't exactly move at breakneck speed in the kitchen).

Prepare vegetables. In saute pan heat oil or water over medium heat. Saute garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrots, and celery. Add spices and mix it up. Set aside to cool.

Combine sauteed vegetables with the lentils, oats, oat flour, and flaxseed meal and mix well. Add any additional spices if you think it needs it. Put the mixture into a loaf pan (I sprayed it with some oil first). Press down firmly along the edges. Don't worry if it looks weird and pale like this; it's going to be good.

Prepare your glaze by combining all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread over top of loaf and bake in oven for about 45–50 minutes.

Let cool 10–15 before slicing, or just dig in right away like I do. I've waited long enough by this point to eat, and I figure I can no longer ruin everything.