I almost always make my super easy veggie lentil loaf on Sunday, so I can have a slice for my dinner, and then freeze the rest to enjoy over the next two or three weeks.
It’s sort of one of those meals that you’re always reading about to do a bunch of food preparation on the weekend so you can freeze and eat later. I’m kind of like that with my chocolate chip peanut butter oatmeal bake. That one I’ll often make on Sunday as well so I can eat a slice for breakfast over the next couple of days and then freeze the rest.
My super easy veggie lentil loaf makes six portions. If you’re feeding a family, this will probably make only one meal because some might want seconds. Any leftovers will be someone’s lunch the next day. If you’re a single, you can freeze the sliced portions and enjoy a few days or a few weeks later.
As you can see from the title of this recipe, one of the items you’ll need is lentils. Now, I’ve never been a big lentil person even though they’re high in protein and very good for vegetarian diets. I usually have one color or another of lentils in my cupboard because I’ve found a recipe that calls for them. Then I run out of lentils and forget to add them to my shopping list! I tend to buy my lentils in the bulk food section of the grocery store, but first check out my article on doing a cost comparison before deciding to buy what you need in the bulk section or buying a larger bag off the shelf. You’ll find lentils in the same section of the grocery store where dry beans are sold. You can probably find lentils in produce stores, especially ones that cater to ethnic groups.
You can read more about lentil varieties here at the Spruce Eats.
I use an Instant Pot to cook my lentils.(Disclosure: if you click the link below, you’ll be taken to Amazon. If you make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
If you don’t have one, you can cook lentils in boiling water on the stove top. Takes about 20 to 45 minutes depending on the type of lentil you bought, just follow the instructions on the bag.
Before cooking lentils, put them in a colander and rinse them with water. I could have sworn I pulled a small stone out of the last batch of lentils I rinsed. Either that or a weird bean got mixed in with the lentil beans. I wasn’t going to find out the hard way. I ditched it!
You’ll need about 2 cups of cooked (and drained) lentils for this recipe. Dry lentils will double or triple in size when cooked. I usually use about 3/4 cup dry lentils, just under a cup. If it ends up being over 2 cups of cooked lentils, I just go with the flow. I’m all about using what you have on hand!
OK, so Instant Pot prep. Rinse the lentils and put them inside the removable pot. I put enough water in to cover the lentils by about two inches. Put the lid on and make sure it’s on the sealing position. Push the manual button either + or – until you get to 9 minutes.
Step away from your Instant Pot! This is supposed to be super easy, right!
In a few seconds the display will show ON and the Instant Pot starts doing it’s thing – pressurizing. Once its hit the pressurization, the valve pops up and the 9 minute countdown begins. After 9 minutes, the timer goes off. I leave the Instant Pot alone until it naturally depressurizes and the valves drops down, about another 15 minutes.
Either method you’re doing, dump the lentils back in the colander and drain the water out.
Before you forget, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Dump the drained lentils into a mixing bowl. Now scrounge around in your freezer for chopped or small frozen veggies. I almost always have chopped celery and onions in the freezer. If I do, I’ll throw in about half a cup of each. Maybe a little less of the onions cause I’m not too keen on them!
If I don’t have the onions and celery, and even if I do, I always have a bag of mixed veggies in the freezer for Chica’s breakfast. I have my chubby Black Lab on a weight loss program that is all about a high fiber diet. You know the bag: green peas, corn, diced carrots, lima beans, and green beans. I also always have bags of peas and corn in the freezer, and usually have a bag of California mix vegetables, but I haven’t tried it in this recipe yet cause the cauliflower and broccoli are kind of big! Ever tried slicing and dicing frozen cauliflower? Not me!
Sometimes I throw in a can of sliced mushrooms.
You can chop up your own fresh vegetables if you like, but then this wouldn’t be super easy veggie lentil loaf!
You want to aim for about two to three cups of vegetables in this recipe. I like to put the frozen veggies in right on top of the steaming hot lentils to sort of thaw them out a bit, but it doesn’t really matter what order you put them in the bowl.
Next I add one cup of oats to the bowl. I usually add quick oats because I have them in the freezer in my kitchen. I keep the old fashioned large flake oats in my deep freeze on the sundeck. Just means walking a little further. All I’m saying is it doesn’t matter which oats you use. Whatever you have on hand!
Next I add about a quarter cup of ketchup. I’m not too accurate here. I just hold the bottle over the mixing bowl and squeeze until it looks like I have at least that much ketchup. Sometimes it looks like it needs more ketchup, so squeeze away!
You can substitute tomato paste if you’re out of ketchup. If you’re out of both, well – hit the grocery store!
Add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. You can probably use another type of vinegar if that’s what you have on hand. Or leave it out. I just happen to have apple cider vinegar on my shelf because it’s supposed to be good for weight loss.
By the way, did you read my article on how fear can be a great motivator for weight loss?
Now season it. Italian seasonings like oregano would be good. Or lemon pepper. I recently bought a bottle of the Cool Runnings brand garlic, pepper & herbs so that’s what I’m using. I use at least a tablespoon of spice. I happen to have parsley flakes on hand right now so I’m adding them to everything I cook. In other words – season to taste.
Mix it up.
Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray. Pour in the super easy veggie lentil loaf. Use a spoon to even it out and put in the oven. Set timer for 35 minutes.
Next make the ketchup topping.
In a small bowl mix 1/3 cup of ketchup (or tomato paste), 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and a teaspoon of mustard. Bottom line it doesn’t matter which type of vinegar or mustard you use. Stir until combined and put in the fridge.
When the timer goes off, pour the ketchup mix onto the super easy veggie lentil loaf and spread evenly. Put back into the oven and set timer for 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, remove from the oven and leave it alone for at least 10 minutes before slicing. I slice it in 6 portions, as evenly as I can. I eat one right away with whatever I’m having for dinner. Usually a spinach and mini carrot salad and crackers. Probably a pickle or two and call it it a meal!
If you’re feeding a larger group, ignore the freezing instructions.
Once the super easy veggie lentil loaf has sufficiently cooled, I put the slices onto a cookie sheet that I’ve covered in wax paper. Then I put the sheet into the freezer and forget about it until the next day. Then I put the frozen slices into a freezer bag. I usually remember to label and date the freezer bag!
Woo hoo! I’m getting at this domestic organization stuff!
When I need one for dinner, I take a portion out of the freezer, put it on a plate and defrost in the microwave for 44 seconds. Then I cook it for one minute and 44 seconds. I add some cooked veggies or salad, maybe a pickle and some chips – and it’s dinner!
As a single, this super easy veggie lentil loaf gets two thumbs up and an A in many categories:
- low cost
- super easy to prepare
- probably have all ingredients in the house
- good source of protein
- good course of fiber
- helps with portion control
- easy to freeze
- provides several meals