A plant-based palate pleaser
Taking an extra effort to prepare a vegan meal for a get-together
By Kasia Kwaczynska
Trying to find ways to serve more plant-based foods, I came upon this recipe that seemed like a good place to start. We were having a get-together with around 200 people, and I was asked to help prepare meals for some who had dietary restrictions.
Cooking is one of my favorite activities, but the whole area of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free diets was a little foreign to my repertoire up to this point. But, full speed ahead, I dove into my assigned task to explore this new world.
I’m Polish and accustomed to preparing hearty, flavorful foods; so, trying to find ways to make a vegetarian dish tasty and looking like the meatloaf that the rest of the group would be eating, I put on my creative hat and began the adventure.
When it came time to serve the lentil loaf to the 35 people who requested the special diet, it was hard telling all the others it was only for the select few. However, we couldn’t limit it when we saw the wanting faces, and miraculously there was enough for all who wanted to taste it — even for second helpings. Some even asked for the recipe to make it for their own families.
In the end it seemed that each one felt the special love that went into making this unique dish, and we all were overjoyed with its success. It’s a delicious meal that will convince even the most devoted meat lover that plants and vegetables can be equally satisfying to the eye and the palate.
Lentil loaf (serves 6)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
4 tablespoons water
½ cup diced onion
5 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced carrots
3 cups cooked lentils according to package directions
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
dash of cumin, paprika, oregano
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free)
salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup ketchup
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soak ground flaxseed in water, then add them when ingredients for meatloaf are mixed together.
Sauté the onion in a little water over medium heat until soft and translucent, then add garlic, celery and carrots, and sauté for two to three minutes until softened. Add another splash of water if it appears dry.
Transfer cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl and add cooked lentils, Italian seasoning, ketchup, Dijon mustard, panko breadcrumbs, flaxseed, water, salt and pepper. Fold until well combined, transfer to a non-stick silicon loaf pan (or a metal or glass pan sprayed with vegetable oil) and pat down tightly.
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup ketchup with balsamic vinegar, then brush the top of the lentil loaf with the mixture.
Bake for 25–30 minutes. Remove loaf from oven and allow to rest 5–10 minutes. Carefully remove and serve with potatoes or rice and salad.
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