A Meatless Loaf for Thanksgiving and Weeknights Alike

November 13, 2014

Every other Thursday, Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: A vegan version of a childhood classic.

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I wasn’t a big meat eater growing up, but I was a big meatloaf eater. It was one of my favorite and most-requested childhood dishes, which pleased my mother, who typically had to brace herself for battle when meat was on the menu. Ironically, one of the reasons I liked my mom’s meatloaf so much was that it was always chock full of the vegetables I loved so much, even as a kid: carrots, celery, and onions. 

This lentil loaf highlights those same vegetables, along with brown lentils, ground walnuts, and breadcrumbs. I think it evokes the dense texture of traditional meatloaf nicely, but I appreciate the kick of aromatics (garlic, sage, thyme, and rosemary) and the fact that lentils give it more texture and chew than any meatloaf I can remember (sorry, mom). 

More: Make a double batch of lentils, and turn some into sloppy Joes

As with traditional meatloaf, you can serve cold slices of this loaf on toasted, grainy bread for a hearty leftover lunch or dinner; the leftovers will keep for at least four days in the refrigerator and can be frozen for up to a month. A ketchup glaze is optional, but I love the tangy sweetness it adds to an otherwise earthy dish -- plus, it makes the loaf look super authentic. I like smothering it with my vegan gravy and serving it with some garlicky sautéed greens. Needless to say, it’s a great holiday dish: It serves a crowd, and it can sit proudly at the center of any table.

Lentil Walnut Loaf

Makes 8 slices

1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
1 cup green or brown lentils, dry
2 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced white or yellow onion
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup diced carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage, rubbed
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 1/4 cups breadcrumbs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon flax meal, mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup ketchup, for glazing (optional)

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Mark Weinberg

Choosing RawGena's new book Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is a thorough, relatable guide to incorporating raw and vegan foods into any diet. It's full of no-fuss recipes for every meal, which range from fully raw to mostly cooked, with plenty of snacks and desserts to keep everyone happy.


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    Sarah Jampel
Gena is a registered dietitian, recipe developer, and food blogger. She's the author of three cookbooks, including Power Plates (2017) and Food52 Vegan (2015). She enjoys cooking vegetables, making bread, and challenging herself with vegan baking projects.


nav September 27, 2015
Can you sub anything else for walnuts? I can't eat walnuts or pecans, but other nuts are fine!
AntoniaJames November 13, 2014
Reminds me of a nut loaf I made as a teenager, shortly after discovering "The Vegetarian Epicure." ;o)
Jess November 13, 2014
This will be dinner tonight!
Horto November 13, 2014
What can I sub flax with?
Gena H. November 13, 2014
Hi Horto! Ground chia seeds will work. If you have to leave the flax out, that's OK, too.
Sarah J. November 13, 2014
I couldn't stop eating this!
AntoniaJames November 13, 2014
Cannot wait to try this!! ;O)