This lentil loaf is a fantastic store cupboard recipe. Tasty, adaptable and frugal, it’s packed with vegetables and full of all the good stuff. My lentil loaf is vegetarian and gluten free!
Easy Lentil Loaf Recipe
Lentils can get a bad press. For some of us, they are associated with rather worthy form of 1970s vegetarian cooking, which is a shame. This staple of peasant cuisines across continents is the home cook’s friend.
Lentils are good for you. They contain the third highest level of protein of any legume after soybeans and hemp. They are packed with fibre, potassium, folates and iron. But lentils don’t have to be dull. Delicious, frugal and super easy to use, they are great for when you need a store cupboard hero you can rely on, as this lentil loaf demonstrates.
For flavour, I think the king of lentils is the puy. But when it comes to convenience, adaptability and speed of cooking the humble red lentil reigns supreme. Keep a jar in the kitchen and get into the habit of adding a handful to all sorts of dishes for bulk and protein. Red lentils are great in soups, curries, stews and casseroles – even a dip!
Did you know?
The word lens (as in optics) derives from the Latin lens – which means lentil. Modern French retains the double meaning – the term for contact lenses is lentilles de contact!
Use Your Loaf
I love an adaptable recipe that uses up those bits and bobs at the bottom of the fridge; wrinkly peppers, bendy carrots, wilted spring onions. This veggie-packed red lentil loaf will use them all up with no waste, and ensure you get your daily veg. You could also add cheese and any leftover cooked meat or bacon if that’s what you have to hand. Nevertheless, I prefer it as a simple vegetarian recipe.
Slice and fry leftovers to use as a burger-style sandwich filling. Alternatively, cut into fingers for a packed lunch.
This lentil bake does take some time to cook, so it makes sense to have something else in the oven at the same time. If you need an excuse to bake a cake, take this as permission to indulge! Jacket potatoes work too!
What Vegetables Work in a Lentil Bake?
You can use fresh hard vegetables such as peppers, courgettes, peas, corn or carrots. Canned vegetables and frozen also work in this dish, making it a great store-and-freezer recipe.
How to Make Lentil Bake
First, prepare! Measure out the ingredients. You can use fresh, tinned, or assorted frozen vegetables. Whatever you have!
Step one – Simmer the lentils in the stock until they are soft. This will take about 15 – 20 minutes. Keep a eye on them and add more liquid if needed.
While the lentils are cooking, fry fresh or frozen diced vegetables such as onions, courgettes, peppers and carrots.
Step Two – Drain the lentils.
Fuss Free Tip
Make sure that you drain the lentils well. I like to leave them drain for a good few minutes and give the sieve a good shake to help any excess liquid drain out. That way, the loaf should firm up a little quicker.
Step Three – Mix together the lentils, vegetables, and egg. Season well with salt and pepper, and add herbs and spices to taste.
Step Four – Pour the mixture into a lined and oiled 500 g / 1 lb loaf tin. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until risen and golden. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before turning out. Serve your lentil loaf in slices.
Hints, Tips & Variations
- For best results, do make sure you drain the lentils well.
- If you are going to have the oven on for this length of time, it makes sense to bake something else at the same time. Consider a cake or jacket potatoes.
- Go to town on the vegetables – fresh, frozen or canned all work. Use what you have and what you like.
- You can add leftover cheese or bacon.
- Use cooked lentils in pouches to save time.
- Use your favourite herbs. Dried herbs are so much better if you soak them in a tiny bit of warm water before using.
- Add your favourite spices to ring the changes. Try paprika or a curry blend.
Veggie Packed Red Lentil Loaf
- 250 g red lentils
- 500 ml vegetable stock
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 small onion (finely chopped)
- 1 clove garlic (chopped)
- 1 - 1½ cups chopped mixed vegetables (peppers, spring onions, courgettes, peas, corn, carrots etc.)
- 1 egg (beaten)
- herbs to season
- salt and pepper (and other spices to taste)
- Place the lentils and stock in a saucepan. Gently simmer until the liquid has been absorbed and the lentils are soft. Strain in a sieve and stand to allow excess liquid to drain well.
- While the lentils are cooking, fry uncooked vegetables until they are starting to soften and turn golden.
- Place the lentils, cooked vegetables (add any grated root vegetables at this stage) and egg into a bowl and mix. Season well with some herbs, spices and salt and pepper.
- Pour the mixture into a lined and greased 500g loaf tin. Bake at GM 5 / 190°C (fan 180°C) / 375°F for 40–50 minutes until risen, golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to stand for 5 minutes and then turn out.
- Serve sliced, or let it cool and fry to use as a burger.
- This recipe is very adaptable, use whichever vegetables you have. It is especially good for using up anything left at the bottom of the fridge.
- You could also add finely chopped cheese rinds, or any leftover cooked meat.
- This recipe is 7 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion