Traditionally, I am not a fan of "loaf" of any kind. I usually find them a bit underwhelming. So, I wanted to create a loaf that was flavorful, savory, and stayed together. I wanted to create a loaf that was easy to make and delicious. I wanted to create a loaf that would urge everyone that tasted it to get a second helping. In the end, this loaf is it.
I used dried porcini mushrooms, because I knew the flavors would be more concentrated, and there would be the added bonus of using the soaking liquid from the mushrooms to boil the lentils. I chose walnuts and sherry vinegar, because they go together like a DREAM. The rest of the ingredients just felt like the holidays or colder weather to me. I didn't want to rely on prepared sauces like vegan worcestershire sauce or bbq sauce, because I felt like I could create the flavor without them. And here we are, with a beautiful, moist loaf on our hands that is practically begging to be covered in a rich, delicious gravy... YUM!
Porcini Lentil Loaf
1 1 ounce package of dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed well to remove any grit and/or dirt
2 cups boiling water
1 cup dried green lentils
1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 pinch of dried thyme
¾ cup walnuts
¾ cup raw cashews
1 ½-2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ Tbsp fresh sage or 1 tsp dry rubbed sage
1 Tbsp fresh marjoram or 1 tsp dried marjoram
2-3 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
½ tsp mustard powder
½ cup oat flour OR breadcrumbs
2 ½ Tbsp flax seed meal + ¼ cup water
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1. In a medium mixing bowl, add dried porcini mushrooms and the boiling water. Cover with a plate, and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Remove the plate, and strain the liquid into a medium saucepan. Add the reconstituted porcini mushrooms to a food processor.
2. Add the lentils and thyme to the porcini soaking liquid in the medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, and cover with a lid. Boil for 15-20 minutes. Remove the thyme sprig (if you used fresh thyme), and drain off any excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Add the walnuts, cashews and sherry vinegar to the food processor with the porcini mushrooms. Blend until it forms a thick paste, but still has some recognizable bits of nuts. Spoon into the large mixing bowl, and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a loaf pan. Then, in a large skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, a pinch of salt, and olive oil. Sauté until carrots are softened or ~5 minutes. Add sage, marjoram, soy sauce and lentils. Saute another 3 minutes. Taste, and adjust (does it need more soy sauce?).
5. Add the lentil mixture, oat flour (or breadcrumbs), and ground mustard to the porcini-nut mixture in the mixing bowl. Combine the flax seed meal with water, allow it to "gel up" (~3 minutes), and also add to the mixing bowl. Combine everything together, and taste. Adjust seasonings (more soy sauce? more sherry vinegar? More salt? etc).
6. Press into the greased loaf pan. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 F for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove foil, and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with your favorite gravy.