Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf

vegan lentil walnut loaf

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I received free samples of California Walnuts mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by California Walnuts and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.vegan lentil walnut loaf

With recipes like creamy lentil chili, lentil tacos and lentil bolognese, it’s clear I’m a fan of this legume. Still, I haven’t posted enough recipes where they’re paired with one of their best partners in texture and flavor: walnuts. This taco inspired lentil walnut loaf offers variety in your typical meal plan with satisfying texture, flavor nutrients.

Sweet and Savory Walnuts

vegan lentil loaf

When it come to sweet or savory recipes for comfort, I’m team savory for meals. When it comes to snacks, I’m split down the middle with some tendencies to sweet. Even in those cases though, I’m careful to pair sweets with healthy fat, protein and fiber to help stabilize blood sugar responses and promote feelings of satiety.

A handful of California walnuts is a versatile snack and can satisfy any taste preference, from savory to sweet.​ Regardless of your flavor preference, walnuts are the only nut to provide an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3, ALA (2.5g/oz). They also contain protein (4 grams/ounce) and fiber (2 grams per ounce). My maple chia candied walnuts are a perfect example of how to enjoy them sweet! {You can find more nutrition information and recipes at walnuts.org}

Making Meals with Walnuts

As mentioned, a favorite pairing for me is lentils and walnuts. I use them together in my vegan “meaty” stuffing at the holidays and it is a hit with family members regardless of their diet preferences. You’ll also find a lot of lentil walnut “meat” tacos out in the world, and those are what inspired this vegan lentil walnut loaf!

Per half cup serving, lentils provide 12 grams of protein and 15% of the daily value for iron. When paired with the omega-3 content and additional protein in walnuts, there’s a wonderful foundation for a balanced meal. Together their texture really brings dishes together to satisfy those who truly enjoy meat, but are looking to increase variety in their diets.

I regularly enjoy lentil tacos, taco burgers, and lentil chili, so it’s no wonder that similar flavors are what enhance this dish. If you don’t have each spice mentioned in the ingredients, it’s okay to leave one out or even use a taco seasoning packet if you have one around.

lentil walnut meat loaf

A Balanced Vegan Pantry Meal

This vegan lentil walnut loaf can be made entirely with shelf-stable ingredients! I recommend pairing with a vegetable, but that doesn’t mean you need fresh greens around. I always have frozen french cut green beans on hand. You can roast them in the oven while your lentil walnut loaf is cooking! Walnuts are fantastic pantry staples that can nourish you when your stores of fresh foods are a little low. Once a bag is opened though, store walnuts in your refrigerator or freezer. This helps prevent excess oxidation of the healthy oils in the walnuts and also maintains the flavor you enjoy.

Another pantry favorite would be lentils. They can be made from dry, but I also like to buy the packaged steamed lentils which can last months after purchase in the refrigerator. I recommend them in this recipe to cut down on prep time.

This recipe also include canned diced tomatoes and green chiles. Canned vegetables and fruits are still very nutritious, with tomatoes actually boasting higher levels of the phytochemical lycopene when in this form versus fresh.

Rice is a pantry staple for many. To speed up the cooking process, you can use a pressure cooker such as an instant pot. I also like to keep pouches of par-cooked rice on hand for situations where I need a meal ASAP. They only need to be heated for a few minutes in the microwave.

Sometimes I feel I have an excess of seasoning on hand, but I tend to get through them quickly! The ones I keep larger amounts of around are garlic and onion powder, chili powder, cumin, paprika and oregano. This may be due to our household’s love of Mexican and Southwestern flavor, but I find them so versatile, too.

lentil walnut loaf

Vegan Lentil Walnut Loaf

This vegan lentil walnut loaf offers a satisfying balance of nutrients with southwestern flavors and comes together with just pantry ingredients!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated optional
  • 2 cups California walnuts
  • 1 lb package steamed lentils or 2 packed cups cooked from dry
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 2 oz can diced green chiles
  • 2 cups cooked rice from pouch or prepped from dry
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp garlic powder

Instructions
 

  • Heat oven to 350° and toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 8 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a skillet and add garlic and onions as well as optional grated carrot. Stir and cover, letting cook 5-8 minutes.
  • In a food processor, add the tomatoes and chiles and pulse until smooth. Add the walnuts, lentils and seasonings, and pulse until a texture similar to ground meat forms. I like to keep the mixture slightly more chunky to keep the texture of the walnuts pronounced, but you can pulse to a more fine mixture if you prefer.
  • Increase oven heat to 375° and spray one or two loaf pans* with cooking spray.
  • Transfer mixture from food processor to a large bowl and stir in the garlic and onion mixture as well as the rice until very well incorporated.
  • For *one large loaf, pour mixture into prepared loaf or 8x8 baking dish. For faster cooking time, divide into two loaf pans. Press down firmly with spatula and smooth out top before placing in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes if divided, or 55 minutes if one loaf.
  • Let cool to set for 10 minutes after cooking and slice to serve. Top with more chopped walnuts or avocado and salsa and pair with a vegetable.
Keyword lentil walnut loaf, vegan lentil loaf
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