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It being scarf and hat weather down here in the southern hemisphere, I was hankering after something earthy, and a bit stodgy, to fill my vegan belleh. After a morning tramping round Zealandia, I somehow managed to do a search on my phone, while pushing both girls on the local swings (because I am multi-tasking QUEEN) and found a very promising recipe over on Oh She Glows for Lentil Walnut Loaf.

I usually give lentil-loaf the side eye, because past experience has taught me that it usually ends up as a vaguely cohesive slab of sawdust and rat droppings. Still, God loves a trier, and I needed comfort food.



As always, my spur of the moment cooking meant I had to get creative with some of the ingredients, so below is the original recipe, with my notes on the right. Also, please note that the instructions on the original are about twelvty hundred steps long, and I don’t have that much patience, so I was a little more efficient with my assembly method.

Beetloaf


       2 tins of lentils, drained and rinsed
Off to a good start. I was extra sure to rinse my lentils of that weird foamy liquid that seems to dwell in the tins of all pulses.
   1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
We had no walnuts. In fact, we had no nuts of any kind in the house. Instead I used 1 cup pumpkin seeds
   2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Check
     2 cups sweet onion
I used onion. Not entirely sure if they were sweet or not. I was too busy mopping my crying eyes to notice.
   3 garlic cloves
Yup, and I made sure ours were bit fat cloves to boot. Because Mediterranean.
   1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup grated carrot
We don’t have celery as a general rule. Right now, I do have a metric ton of beetroot, so I substituted these two ingredients for grated beet.
   1/3 cup peeled and grated sweet apple
Check. Except I have to be honest, I didn't peel the apple. Nobody noticed.
   1/3 cup dried cranberries (chopped) or raisins
I used raisins. I wasn't sure whether the chopped instruction was supposed to apply to both dried fruit options, but I didn't chop my raisins. I don’t have that sort of time.
   2 teaspoons fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
It’s the middle of winter; safe to say I'm on the dried herbs right now.
   1 teaspoon dried oregano
Mine was a generous teaspoon.
   Fine sea salt, to taste (I use about 1 teaspoon)
OMG me too!!! It's like our minds are one.
   Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
OK, I flat out forgot to add the pepper.
   3 tablespoons ground flax
Pretty sure we have never had this in the house. I used 3 tbsp of coarse semolina assuming this was something to do with texture.
   1/2 cup oat flour
I used normal, slummy, wheat flour.
   1/2 cup spelt bread crumbs (or bread crumbs of choice)
My breadcrumb of choice today was normal bready breadcrumbs.
   1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Not with my children, sunbeam!
   For the Glaze:
1/4 cup ketchup

I may have been slightly generous
   2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce or apple butter
I toyed with the idea of using marmalade instead, but in the end I just left it out.
   2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
I emptied the dribble we had left in the bottle. It was about 2 tbsp. Probably.
   1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Ends on a high! Hashtag nailedit!

Method:

1. Set oven to 180oC and get out food processor. Drain lentils into colander and stick under a running tap.

2. If turning perfectly good future toast into breadcrumbs, do this first. Put in a big mixing bowl.

3. Put onion and garlic into food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Scrape out into a pan, add some oil and salt and set on a low heat to sauté.

4. Rinse the food processor and then add the pumpkin seeds. Pulse until chopped. Add to the pan with the onion and garlic

5. Measure out the raisins, herbs, flour, flax substitute, and add to the breadcrumbs. Go back and add the pepper you forgot.

6. Wonder why you feel the need to visit the toilet. Remember the lentils still under the running tap and turn off tap. Bang colander to drain excess water, grab 2 handfuls of lentils and put in bowl and add the remaining lentils to the food processor. Set to frappé.

7. Check on onion/ garlic/ seeds mix and stir if necessary. I had a few toasty bits in my pan, but these really added to the flavour.

8. Grate apple and beet. Beware the beet spray. Add to mixing bowl.

9. Add lentil paste to bowl and mix everything together.

10. Line a loaf tin with parchment paper. Add the mixture and squish the whole thing down as hard as you can.

11. Mix the glaze mixture together and pour over the loaf. Shove in oven for 60 minutes.

12. Remove from oven. Put on cooling rack for 15 minutes then use the parchment paper to lift out the loaf and allow to cool for as long as you can before cutting.

We ate this with jacket spuds, onion gravy and peas. Frankly it was the perfect winter comfort food, and didn't taste at all of either sawdust or rat droppings.

Oh and PS, I will write about something other than food soon. I am currently processing the terrifying spectre of Olive being 3, which I'm sure we will all laugh about in a few days, once my tears have dried enough for me to type.

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