Last year's Thanksgiving main course for vegan boy was a store bought "Tofurkey", and while it was surprisingly tasty, it just goes against my cooking philosophy of avoiding as much prepackaged food as possible. I could have opted for my black bean burgers, they are a crowd pleaser, but they do not quite work as a holiday protein.
I needed something new. I came upon a recipe for lentil loaf and gave it a try. It was not bad, but it fell apart too easily.
After experimenting with different ingredients I hit upon this recipe. It holds up well and tastes great. Paired with a simple mushroom vegan gravy it makes for an elegant holiday main course.
Ingredients for loaf:
1 cup brown lentils
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon flax powder mixed with 2 tablespoons of water (a vegan egg substitute)
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 large onion chopped
1 carrot chopped
1 red pepper chopped
1 fresno or jalapeno chopped, seeds and ribs removed.
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Ingredients for gravy:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
1 shallot minced
1 clove garlic smashed
1/2 ounce dried mushrooms
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
3/4 cup dried mushroom liquid
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, your choice, but please no button!
3 cups vegetable stock
1 sprig thyme
1 small sprig rosemary minced
salt and pepper to taste
Directions for loaf:
Put lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer until lentils are very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Put bulgur in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer until bulgur is tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a large skillet, combine mushrooms, onion, garlic,carrot, peppers, cider, poultry seasoning, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over medium heat until vegetables are very tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until just chopped. Scrape into a bowl and fold in lentils, bulgur, oats, flax powder mixture and parsley.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Pack lentil mixture into pan and smooth the top. Bake until edges brown slightly, about 1 hour. Cool in pan 25 minutes. Invert pan onto a serving tray and remove from pan. Carefully slice with a serrated knife and serve with mushroom gravy. Recipe follows. Hint: I have found this recipe works better if you put in the fridge and serve the next day, which makes it an ideal holiday recipe. . The cold tends to firm up the loaf.
Directions for gravy:
Place your dried mushrooms in a glass measuring cup and cover with hot water, enough to equal at least 1 cup. Let stand for 10 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium high heat add the olive oil and heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until golden. Add the fresh mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes. Add the dry mushrooms the thyme and rosemary. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle the flour around the pan and stir to combine. Add the mushroom liquid and the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper,if necessary.