Apple, Fennel + Sage Lentil Loaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green/brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced (about 1 1/4 cup)
  • 2 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced or grated (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small apple, cored, peeled and diced or grated (use firm crisp like fuji or gala) (about 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds, use whole or lightly crushed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sage or 2 tablespoons fresh minced
  • 3/4 cup oats, quick or rolled (I used quick) or bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup flour (spelt, almond, oat, GF all-purpose, etc.)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened organic apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts, optional
  • salt & pepper to taste (I used white pepper)

Glaze

  • 6 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Cook lentils: In a dutch oven or large pot, add vegetable broth and lentils, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 40 – 45 minutes, most to all liquid should be absorbed. (If most liquid is not absorbed, cooked until it is mostly absorbed. If by chance your liquid absorbs too fast, add a tad more water as needed and continue the process.) Lentils should be overcooked and tender. Set aside to cool, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Mash lentils with the back of a spoon or fork, or roughly puree using an immersion blender or food processor, about 2/3 – 3/4 of the lentil mixture.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toast walnuts: Spread walnuts on a small rimmed baking pan, place in oven and toast until fragrant, about 10 -15 minutes. Set aside to cool..

Prepare vegetables and apple: Heat oil in a medium size pan over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrot, saute for about 5 minutes. Add apple, fennel, sage salt & pepper, heat for another 3 – 4 minutes.

Combine everything: Add the sauteed mixture with the lentils and mix. Add flour, oats, walnuts and 1/2 cup apple sauce, mix well to combine. If mixture seems to dry, add a little more apple sauce, mix again. Taste for seasoning adding extra herbs, salt and pepper as needed.

Line a 9 x 5 loaf pan with parchment paper, (this will make for easy removal later), add mixture and press down gently but firmly to remove any air pockets, fill in along the edges as well.

Make glaze: In small bowl, mix together the glaze and spread over top lentil loaf as evenly as you can. Here you can even add a fresh sage leaf in the center of the loaf, it won’t burn, it may roll a bit on the edges, and will add a nice decoration.

Bake: Place loaf in oven, on middle rack, and bake for 45 – 50 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool 10 minutes, remove from pan using the edges of the parchment paper. You may like to mix a bit more sauce and spread over top. Place loaf on serving dish, cut and serve individual slices.

Serving suggestions: Serve with roasted or mashed potatoes, or potato & cauliflower mash, a side of green beans or any combo of roasted brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash and beets. A simple fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette is also a great side! Left overs make for great sandwiches!

Makes 8 slices.

Notes:

If you don’t use a good vegetable broth while cooking the lentils, I recommend add in 1/2 teaspoon of onion and garlic powder, along with a big pinch of salt. The lentils are the base of the recipe and should have good flavor.

If mixture is too wet, add a tad more flour or oats/bread crumbs. If mixture is too dry, add a tad more apple sauce.

I’ve used both oats and bread crumbs. Both were great. I didn’t notice that the oat flavor came through at all (or maybe I’m just adapted to them).

I don’t recommend reheating the entire loaf at once. It will most likely become too dry, as the heat will take to long to reach the center. I recommend cutting slices and reheating. If you need, you can make your lentil loaf the day before and store uncooked until ready to heat, bring to room temperature and heat according to instructions above.

If you love fennel and sage, by all means add an extra 1/2 teaspoon of each! Or an extra tablespoon of fresh minced sage.

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