Make Ahead

Lentil Walnut Loaf

November 10, 2014
8 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Makes 8 slices
Author Notes

Lentils and walnuts give this vegan spin on meatloaf plenty of texture and chew. Most of the ingredients are likely to be in your pantry and fridge, so you can whip the loaf up easily and enjoy its leftovers (which get better with time) for a few days. —Gena Hamshaw

What You'll Need
  • 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 thyme, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage, rubbed
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried and 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)
  1. Use a food processor to grind the walnuts into a meal. Set the meal aside.
  2. Sort and rinse the lentils. Place them in a pot along with the vegetable broth. Bring the broth to a boil and lower it to a simmer. Simmer the lentils until they've absorbed all of the liquid and are tender but not mushy. Add more broth as needed. When the lentils are done, remove them from heat and set them aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrot. Sautee until the onion is clear and the carrots are tender (about 6 to 8 minutes). Add the garlic and cook it for another 2 minutes. Add the cooked lentils, along with the thyme, sage, rosemary, and salt. Check the mixture for seasoning and add more salt and black pepper as needed.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, walnuts, and the lentil mixture, along with the tomato paste and the flax mixture. Use your hands to combine it all thoroughly.
  5. Press the mixture into a loaf pan (mine is 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches), smoothing the top over. Glaze it with ketchup, if desired.
  6. Bake the loaf for 40 minutes, or until the top is browning. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jennie
  • Marsha Gainey
    Marsha Gainey
  • Jess
  • Leanne Johnson
    Leanne Johnson
  • Sue Holtz
    Sue Holtz

26 Reviews

jkwood7 February 27, 2024
This was very tasty and held together. I zhuzhed-up the ketchup a bit: 1/4 cup K, 1/8 cup brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar, a few splashes of hot sauce (combine and cook in small pan until sugar melts). Coated with half the sauce when it went in at 375 and then coated again after 15 minutes. Baked for a total of 40 minutes. I also used an egg instead of the flax meal. I'd use panko (and a bit less) next time--or oats as nunanewf below suggests. And I'd put a parchment sling in the loaf pan to make it easier to pull out. Lovely base--the walnuts and lentils come through and are delicious.
nunanewf February 13, 2023
Made it today and substituted rolled oats for breadcrumbs and summer savoury for rosemary. Delicious! I would like the nutritional information on the recipe though, calories, protein, carbs, fibre & fat would be very helpful.
Laura November 26, 2021
The breadcrumbs should be considered optional. Have a look at what you're stirring up and determine - are your lentils really wet, and need some breadcrumbs to get the texture right? Or, is the mix plenty dry as-is, so breadcrumbs would desiccate it? In contrast, IMHO the ketchup is NOT optional! Yum! I baked at 350F for 40 min. Lined the loaf pan with parchment, lifted it out onto the serving platter, then tugged the parchment out from underneath.
[email protected] March 28, 2021
Hi, I too have just made this dish, I have to say I am very shocked at the nay sayers, especially the ones who say "flavourless". I used a half can of tomatoes instead of paste (didn't have any on hand), used cornflour instead of flax seed, so nothing substituted that would add flavour. The loaf was fed yesterday to one meat eater, six vegetarians and one vegan. ALL agreed it was a triumph, served with traditional vegan gravy, mixed roast veg. Today I (the vegan) have had the loaf with a baked potato and gravy for brunch and honestly it reminds me of the texture of the mince and tatties our mother used to serve us 60 years ago. I love it, thanks for a great recipe! So satisfying!
401Pokey! January 15, 2021
I could tell it was going to be dry when I mixed it up. Looking at reviews, you all confirmed my suspicion. So I adjusted it this way: instead of tomato paste, I added 1/2 cup tomato sauce. Added a large chopped up dill pickle, 1 extra egg.

To beef up the flavor, I used "no-beef" bullion to cook the lentils (had about 1/3 cup broth left in the lentils when they were done and added that too), added extra teaspoon of the bullion concentrate, 1 tablespoon mushroom powder. I topped the loaf with 3/4 cup of ketchup instead of 1/4 cup. Then I covered the loaf with foil while it was cooking 45 min at 350⁰, except uncover the final 10 min. Let come to room temp to set before cutting.

Another way to add moisture to the loaf would be to add a shredded zucchini. If you try that route, maybe cut back on the extra tomato sauce to 1/4 cup.
Jennie December 1, 2019
Well I hate to be the wet blanket on this joyful comment thread, but I served this alongside the turkey to 3 vegetarians (including myself) at Thanksgiving, and it went over like a lead balloon. Thank goodness for the mushroom thyme gravy (also from food 52, and I give that recipe 7/5 stars!). I don’t like to apologize for my cooking but felt it was incumbent on on me to do so for this dish. Followed the recipe to the letter; results were dry and flavorless, and my vegetarian, eats-anything dad declined to take any leftovers or have seconds. Could hardly blame him. What a disappointment. Absolutely never again.
okaykate February 3, 2018
Has anyone tried freezing this? What would be the best method? Thx!
allison June 22, 2018
I was wondering the same thing. Did you ever try freezing this?
Caroline M. September 15, 2019
Yes, I’ve usually frozen it cooked, then defrosted it and reheated it by putting slices on a baking tray, covered with tinfoil, then put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. I’m usually doing roast potatoes to go with it, so just put the loaf on the cooler shelf, after I’ve turned the potatoes the first time. Such a fantastic meal, like a traditional roast, with red wine gravy and lots of veg. By the way, I always add an egg instead of the flax meal.
Ttrockwood January 6, 2018
I have made this a few times and it's been a big hit with non vegetarian friends. Definitely add the ketchup on top, i use a thick layer more than 1/4c. Surprisingly this works even better with canned lentils which i hate yet use for veggie burgers and they held this together great. Absolutely better the next day
SMarsh March 11, 2017
We made this and it turned out delish! Used a ground chia seed egg substitute instead of the flax. Also used panko bread crumbs and ground up corn flakes because we didn't have enough! Glazed with homemade bbq sauce which made it even more savory. Definitely recommend letting it sit before slicing it, as it helped it stay together. Ours was moist and not crumbly at all. Already planning on making again.
Marsha G. August 19, 2016
This was all right. It's a nice recipe to have because you can make it from pantry ingredients, so when you're broke or you're snowed in, it could prove helpful. It was a bit dry, so have some gravy handy. It was also a bit crumbly.
Teri G. February 10, 2016
Planning to make this tonite. Looks delicious. I have read that you can use chickpea juice (like the stuff you drain out of the can) as an egg substitute. The article I read said it beat all of the other subs. Going to try it instead of the flax meal.
Lynnsy October 24, 2016
It helps to soak the flax meal in warm water in equal amounts for about 15 minutes. It will be a good egg substitute and hold the loaf together better than just stirring it in dry.
MargaretB January 7, 2016
This was the unexpected star of our Thanksgiving. Even the meat eaters loved it. A bit dry, but nothing a good vegan gravy couldn't fix. Also: I used hoisin instead of ketchup on top, which I thought went with the lentils very well and added a great umami kick.
Linda O. November 9, 2015
Do you think one could substitute almonds?
Jess November 15, 2015
I think you could -- I liked the walnuts in it very much, but if almonds are your preferred nut/what you have, I would say try it out.
Caroline M. September 15, 2019
I usually use a mixture of nuts. I find walnuts can have a bitter edge, so usually do 1/2 cup each of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
Jess January 24, 2015
Second time making this tonight, and it's just as terrific as the first go. I never ate or prepared vegetarian nut loaves before this, but I often see them mentioned in discussions of earlier eras of vegetarian cooking. So making and eating this delicious meal feels a bit like a way to access that nostalgia -- fun!
Leanne J. December 26, 2014
Made this tonight with a few changes. Omitted the walnuts, and used two egg whites instead of flax. Consistency was like meatloaf. Sliced perfectly! Will definitely make this again!
Sue H. November 26, 2014
Thanks for the temp and time!!!
learnoff November 16, 2014
Just made this and it's another winner in our home! I followed the directions exactly. Other than the lentils definitely needed more than 2 cups of liquid and I added a 1/4 cup ketchup to the mixture and then just spread additional on top. It's a great substitute for the real deal - i can see this straight up on a plate or as a sandwich. I did 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Yum. On,y wish I could post a photo of the recipes I make from this web site. Thanks again food 52!
Whats4Dinner November 16, 2014
MeMecooke: how did 350 work out? okay? should I try 375??
Kandy K. November 15, 2014
Oven temp needs to be added to the recipe please.
AG November 13, 2014
Oven temp?
MeMecooke November 15, 2014
I did mine at 350..but u r temp in recipe