I always hated meatloaf as a kid, and I still do. I can’t even say the word meatloaf without adding ‘shmeatloaf’ after it. It’s funny that when I was young, it was more the vegetables, onions and little crunchy bits in the meatloaf that I hated, and now it’s the idea of a tray full of packed meat that turns me off. A lentil loaf full of vegetables though? Much more up my alley!
I know some people will have the same reaction I have to meatloaf when they hear the word ‘lentil loaf’. Indeed, my fiancé in particular was extremely skeptical at the idea. But even he ended up admitting that this was really good, so if you’re hesitant, I encourage you to give it a chance!
Why should you give this a chance over regular meatloaf? Because lentils are full of fiber and protein to fill you up and give you energy, along with other important minerals like potassium, folate, and iron. There’s also oats and a little egg for even more fiber and protein in this, along with vegetables like onions, carrots, and peppers for added nutrition. Of course, I had to add a little extra appeal to convince the fiancé to try this, so I included buffalo sauce to give it extra flavour and kick, which I loved! You could substitute bbq sauce though if you’re not into spicy food.
Though it takes a little time to cook, the result is worth it! I love this lentil loaf on its own with a side of vegetables (mashed potatoes would be great too!), but I ate most of it in sandwiches for lunch. Toast some whole grain bread, add some lettuce, barbeque or buffalo sauce, tomato, and a couple slices of lentil loaf and you’ve got a hearty, filling, and tasty meal!
Buffalo Lentil Loaf
Makes one 9x5 loaf, serves about 4-6 (or more depending on how you serve the loaf)
1 cup dry brown lentils
2-1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small or medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 a large red bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Pinch each of salt and pepper
1 cup rolled oats, pulsed in a blender or food processor a few times to more of a coarse crumb
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buffalo sauce (your favourite brand, such as Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce or PC Buffalo Wing Sauce)
2 tablespoons bbq sauce (plus more for after baking, if desired)
2 tablespoons buffalo sauce
Add lentils and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and let simmer 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is mostly evaporated. Remove from heat, drain any excess water, and puree about three-quarters of the lentils in a blender or food processor (or with an immersion blender). Set aside to let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, red pepper, and carrot and sauté, stirring often, for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Stir in the spices (cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper), then remove from heat.
Fold together the lentils, sautéed vegetables and spices, oats, eggs, and buffalo sauce in a large bowl or in the saucepan until combined. Line a 9x5 loaf pan with parchment paper, spray lightly with cooking spray, and spread lentil mixture evenly in prepared pan. Mix the 2 tablespoons each of bbq sauce and buffalo sauce for the glaze, and brush in an even layer on top of the loaf.
Bake loaf in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until the top of the loaf is dry, firm, and golden brown. Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes, run a knife around the edges, then use parchment paper to lift out of pan. Top with a bit of additional bbq sauce if you like. Slice into 10-12 slices and serve however you desire – either on its own, in a sandwich, on top of a salad, etc.