Need a new dinner idea, you are going to love this simple vegan walnut lentil loaf! It’s full of fiber, healthy fats, and is so incredibly filling and delicious. If you decide to take a shortcut and buy your lentils already cooked from the grocery store, this is ready in about 30 minutes! Perfect for busy nights or a Sunday dinner!
Growing up we had meatloaf at least once a week. My mom knew how important it was for us kids to have a home cooked meal, so even though she worked all day, she always came home and made us a meal from scratch. I remember having meatloaf and pot roast more than spaghetti, she was so dedicated to providing us healthy, nourishing meals! Now that I’m older, I look back and wonder how many of those days was she tired or exhausted from work but still came home to cook for us after a long day. My mom is my idol and my driving force when things get busy, if she could do it so can I!
Dave and I just moved to Austin, Texas, and it’s the first time I’ve ever lived away from my family. I was missing my mom and I immeidately thought about a big bowl of mashed potatoes, a vegan verson of her meatloaf and something green for dinner after an exhasuting day at the gym. I wanted to make something that was relatively simple, since I don’t always have a ton of energy when we get home from painting/upfitting the space. So I knew my food processor was going to be doing most of the work that night 🙂
I’ve made so many versions of vegan meatballs and have learned that the key to creating a more satisfying texture is to add in contrasting textures, as lentils and mashed up beans tend to have a rather flat, mushy consistency. I knew immediately that California walnuts, with their healthy fats, amazing flavor and crunchy texture would be the perfect addition to my lentil loaf, and I was so right! This walnut lentil loaf is based off the recipe for quinoa lentil vegan meatball recipe, which is my favorite on the blog.
California walnuts are a great way to add flavor, crunch and depth to dishes, I love adding them to sweet and savory dishes. Have you tried cherry walnut recovery bites or my cauliflower pizza crust with figs and walnuts. Walnuts are one of my go-to ways to take a dish from kind of bleh to amazing. Adding walnuts also helps bump up the protein and fiber in this dish, which help this walnut lentil loaf leave you feeling full and satisfied, but not stuffed!
They often say that foods look like the body part they are meant to help protect. If you crack a walnut open, you will notice that it looks like your brain inside your skull. Did you know that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help protect the brain, build brain cell membrane, reduce inflammation in the brain, and promote new brain cell formation? And guess what California walnuts are full of – plant-based omega-3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acid or ALA). This is why I love adding them to dishes!
Be sure to pick up California Walnuts to cook with! I promise you will find endless ways to add them to your favorite healthy sweet or savory dish!
Most of this dish is made in the food processor! I take the help where I can. Hopefully you have also embraced the greatness of this handy kitchen tool. I used the food processor to:
- Chop the veggies while the lentils were cooking. I sauteed the veggies quickly to take the crunch of out of them.
- Grind down walnuts into a flour like consistency to help bind the lentils together.
- Process the lentils until smooth
Once the base for the lentil loaf was made, I added in chopped walnuts, about 1 more cup of lentils and stirred well with a spatula to incorporate all the ingredients. Then I just spooned the walnut lentil loaf ingredients into the bread pan lined with parchment, topped with more walnuts and baked for 25 minutes at 400F.
Vegan Walnut Lentil Loaf
- 3 cups lentils cooked, divided
- 2 tbs. chopped onion
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 tbs. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. sage
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup California walnuts divided
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 6 tbs water
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Prepare the lentils as directed or purchase them in the refridgerator section of your grocery store.
- While lentils are cooking, add the onion, carrot and celery to the food processor and process to chop.
- Add chopped veggies to a hot skillet thats been sprayed with non-stick spray or olive oil. Saute veggies for 4 minutes until soften slightly.
- Add tomato paste and 1/4 tsp. salt to veggies. Cook 1 more minute to cook out some of the tomato paste. Turn off heat.
- Add 1/4 cup of walnuts to the food processor and process until the walnuts resemble flour.
- Add 2 cups of cooked lentils and puree until smooth.
- Add cooked veggies, ground sage, 3/4 tsp. salt, the water and chia seeds and process until combined.
- Add 1/4 cup walnuts chopped, and another 1 cup of lentils. Stir well but don't process.
- Line a bread pan with parchament paper for easy removal. Add the lentil loaf ingredients into the bread pan and top with additional walnuts (optional).
- Bake at 400F for 25 minutes.
What about you?
- What is your favorite way to eat California walnuts?
- Have you ever made a vegan or vegetarian loaf?
- What meal do you make when you are homesick?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.