I’ll admit that even for me, the words lentil and loaf in the same sentence conjure up unpleasant visions of bland 1970s era communal meals. But out of all of my recipes, this barbecue glazed lentil loaf made with red lentils is one of my guys’ most requested meals. Clearly, they think it’s the best lentil loaf recipe, ever! And as a 20+ year veteran of vegetarian cooking and eating, I have to agree :)
The Best Lentil Loaf Recipe (Seriously!)
your choice of oil
Add the lentils to 2 cups of boiling water and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the water is absorbed. Make absolutely certain that the water is completely absorbed… this is key because if the lentils are too wet, the loaf will not set properly.
While the lentils are cooking, sauté the onion and celery in a bit of oil until they begin to soften and brown, add the garlic and the soy sauce, then sauté it for a few more minutes.
Let the lentils cool a bit, then stir them together with the remaining ingredients.
At this point, the mixture should be the consistency of… well, ground meat mixed with eggs, etc. It should be sticky, but not wet, slightly stiff, a bit wetter than cookie dough.
Line a loaf pan with parchment (my pan is approximately 4.5 in. x 8 in.), add the mixture, smooth it out with the back of a spoon, then whack it on the counter a few times to settle it in the pan. Bake it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
While the best lentil loaf recipe ever is in the oven, whisk together the ketchup, ACV, and brown sugar. Taste and adjust. Ketchup in Denmark tends to be sweeter and less acidic than in the US, so don’t take my proportions as gospel.
After 30 minutes, pour a bit of the glaze on top of the loaf and bake it another 15 minutes, or until it seems firm and you can stick a knife in the middle and it comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then turn it out onto a platter, slice it, and serve it with the remaining barbecue glaze. If I’m feeling lazy, I skip the barbecue glaze and serve it with HP Sauce, which displeases The Oik. However, a big batch of mashed potatoes usually brings me back into his good graces.
The texture of this lentil loaf improves after it cools, so it’s actually more attractive and easier to handle on the second day (if it lasts that long). There’s absolutely no harm in cooking it a day ahead, then reheating it. It’ll be firmer and easier to deal with, but it’s great out of the oven, too :)
I have little recollection of the 70s and my parents weren’t of the lentil eating persuasion, but over the years, I’ve tried many iterations of the much scorned hippie version of lentil loaf, and this one bears little resemblance. We think it’s the best vegetarian lentil loaf recipe, ever… and if you try it, I hope you do, too!