Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Smoked Gouda and Green Chiles

I know, I know–lentil loaf?  That 1970’s crunchy-granola stuff that tasted like dirt and looked brown and felt squidgy?  Well, yes and no.  I am here to convert you to the cause.  This is not your mama’s lentil loaf!
I became mildly obsessed with lentil-nut loaves in the mid ’90s.  I spent some time in England and I was a full-fledged vegetarian at the time, so I ate my fair share of variations on this theme, ranging from wonderful to horrible.  When I got back to the states I made it my mission to come up with a version that would appeal to anyone, and let it be known that I think I make a pretty mean lentil loaf.  Now, you can too.
The key is the nuts, which add a great texture to the loaf.  I pulse the cooked lentils with the walnuts in a food processor until a chunky paste forms.  This holds the loaf together but still leaves a great mouth feel to the finished product.  I make several flavor variations of this basic loaf, and I have used pecans or almonds instead of walnuts, all to good effect.  Try it and see what you think.  No, you should not try to pass this off as “meatloaf.”  It is a wonderful dish in its own right.
Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Smoked Gouda and Green Chiles
4 cups cooked, drained lentils (I use green or brown)
1 cup walnut halves or pieces
1/3 cup chopped green chiles (I like Hatch)
1 egg
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups shredded, smoked gouda cheese
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped green chiles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse the lentils and walnuts in a food processor to form a chunky paste.  Scoop them into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the 1/3 cup chopped green chiles, egg, 1/2 cup ketchup, salt, cumin, and cilantro.  Mix well, then fold in the bread crumbs and shredded cheese.  Spoon the mixture into a loaf pan that you have sprayed with cooking spray.

Stir together the remaining ketchup and chopped green chiles, and spoon over the top of the loaf.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until firm in the center.  I like to sprinkle a little extra cheese on the top for the last five minutes of cooking.  Cool for ten minutes, slice, and serve.  This is softer than a traditional meat-based loaf, but it holds it shape well.  It also makes an excellent sandwich!

Thanks for reading,

-Angela

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3 Responses to Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Smoked Gouda and Green Chiles

  1. Anonymous March 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    WOW, that looks great. I have never used lentils in a loaf. I want to try this recipe. Thanks, your dear sweet mom, Jayne

  2. BigFatBaker March 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

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  3. Steven Merkel May 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

    Looks great! I do a black and red bean loaf along these lines. I will have to try this.

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