Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lentil Loaf

When I was in grad school, most of my classes were in the late afternoon/evening. This was not good if you were used to eating dinner around, say, dinner time. A friend of mine and I had Biostats (mental shiver) from 4:30-7:10 every Wednesday. Since we'd both be starving by the time we'd leave, we decided to make dinners for each other. Every week, we would split who would bring the main dish, salad/bread, and dessert. Then on our 10-15 minute break, we would enjoy! Poor thing made the mistake of making a lentil loaf. I was hooked!! Whenever it was her turn for the main dish, guess what I would request. Now that grad school is over, I am still craving her lentil loaf. I have the recipe and have made it many times and I only hope it's as good as her version. (Mine tends to change slightly each time depending on what ingredients I have in my fridge at any given time.) The recipe looks intimidating because of the length, but it's really simple to make.

3/4 cup lentils (doesn't really matter the type, just go with your favorite)
3 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 cup brown rice
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (I used a shallot this last time...see note above about on-hand ingredients)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (I saved mine from the summer and then froze perfectly)
10 ounces fresh baby spinach (this last time I used arugula...adds a peppery taste)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 eggs lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tomato, chopped
2-3 green onions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

For the Sauce:
Combine the tomatoes, green onions, garlic, and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside.

For the Loaf:
Place lentils in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Then drain the water and rinse the lentils. Then in another large saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Add rice and return to boil. Decrease the heat to low and cover. Gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Add in the carrot, celery, onion, and lentils. Cover and continue cooking until the rice and lentils are tender. Turn off heat.

Add the corn to top of rice/lentil mixture and let stand, covered for about 5 minutes. Fluff and let stand again for 5 more minutes.

In a medium skillet, cook spinach over medium heat until it welts (few minutes). Drain, and squeeze any excess liquid. Chop coarsely.

Then in a large bowl, combine the lentil mixture, spinach, mozzarella cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the prepared sauce. Spoon into a greased loaf pan. You can sprinkle the top with more cheese or leave as is.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving or it will fall apart as you try to remove it from the pan. Top with the remaining sauce.

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