Do you have recipes collected from various cookbooks, magazines, friends or family, all shoved into a folder. You’ve meant to try them… but it never seems to happen. This Vegetarian Lentil and Nut Loaf (also the Panforte and Shortbread Biscuits) is a recipe I finally got around to making. The recipe is taken from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook, belonging to my sister.
As you can see from the ingredients list, it’s a hearty loaf and you most likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen. The only ingredient I had missing were the peppery green Puy lentils, but I did have some earthy Beluga lentils which I used with this recipe. When cooked, Beluga and Puy lentils retain their shape, adding texture, flavor and a speckled contrast of colour throughout the loaf, especially the black Beluga lentils.
There’s a bit of chopping involved and you need to cook each of the lentils separately… but please don’t let this put you off. You could always use your kitchen processor to speed chopping, just go easy on the pulse button. With this recipe I preferred to use the good old chopping knife, giving me more control. Next time I make this lentil and nut loaf, I will make it spicier and use a whole chilli. Make sure you season the mixture well (I never mind tasting raw mixtures) before baking, otherwise it will taste bland. The recipes states 45 minutes cooking time, mine took 60 minutes, as it was still wobbly in the middle.
You could make this lentil and nut loaf two days ahead as it keeps well in the fridge. You can serve the loaf hot or cold, I prefer serving it at room temperature. Fruit chutney or caramelized onion jam would be a nice accompaniment, with a leafy green salad on the side. Perfect for lunch, brunches, picnics, or even taking a slice to the office. So whether you’re entertaining or simply need a dish to make-ahead, this lentil and nut loaf is an excellent recipe to have.
Lentil and Nut Loaf
You will need to grease base and sides of 2 lb loaf tin (28.5 cm x 13.5 cm x 7 cm external) (22 cm x 11 cm x 7 cm internal) and line with non-stick baking parchment or you could use loaf liners found at kitchen shops.
Recipe adapted from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook
50g Puy Lentils – (used Beluga Lentils)
300g orange lentils
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large pepper, seeded and diced
3 celery sticks, diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons of ground cumin
75g fresh breadcrumbs – (used sourdough breadcrumbs)
150g Cheddar cheese, grated – (used a mature cheddar cheese)
75g roasted nuts, such as pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts chopped – (used pistachio, hazelnuts and pine nuts and didn’t bother to toast)
to season, freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt
How to make:
Pre-heat the oven to 170C/325F/150C fan/Gas mark 3
Rinse the lentils separately in a sieve under cold running water. Place the Puy lentils (or Beluga lentils) and orange lentils into separate saucepans, cover with boiling water from the kettle and stir, leave to simmer gently. Cook the Puy lentils for about 12 to 15 minutes (Beluga Lentils 15 to 20 minutes) and the orange lentils for about 8 minutes. Once cooked, drain and place the lentils into a large mixing bowl.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, carrots, red pepper, celery, garlic, chilli and cumin. Gently cook for about 5 minutes, to retain some color do not over cook. Remove from heat and add to the bowl of lentils. Cool for about 5 minutes, then add the breadcrumbs, cheese nuts and eggs. Add some seasoning and using a large spoon, thoroughly mix all the ingredients together. Check seasoning and add more if required. Spoon the mixture into a prepared loaf tin and level the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes.
I left my loaf to cool in the tin on a wire cooling rack for 45 minutes, before turning out. I felt it would be more solid and easier to slice and preferred serving at room temperature. Slice thickly and serve with a salad of mixed leafy greens and some chutney. Approximately 8 servings.