Vegan Meals For The Holidays:
Stuffed Red Lentil Loaf with Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Walnuts & Spinach
It's that time of year again and I am on a quest to create delicious vegan meals that can be your protein centerpiece for the holidays. I know you can always get a Tofurkey, which is good, however I believe this plant-based option will be more savory, healthy and satisfying. Some fancy vegan meals like this, can take time to prepare, but isn't that what holiday dinners are all about? Taking the extra steps to create food memories for life. I know that's what I am trying to do.
Let's begin with the stuffing.
It contains mushrooms, spinach, red peppers and chopped walnuts with lots of fresh herbs.
If you don't like mushrooms use eggplant or any hearty vegetable. If walnuts aren't your thing, use pistachios. Anything goes in this stuffing.
You can use your imagination or anything you have sitting in your refrigerator. Just make sure you drain the sautéed vegetables in a colander before rolling them up in the dough. You don't want the dough to become soggy.
This red lentil dough is a simple recipe of cooked red lentils, a dash of saffron, and flour. When it's all done, serve the loaf in a puddle of my rich and delicious mushroom gravy with some sweetened cranberry sauce on the side.
Or check-out the ultimate holiday showstopper, Vegan Roast Wellington with Lentils, Mushrooms and Chestnuts.
Hope you enjoy this healthy dinner for the holidays.
- 1¼ cups red lentils, rinsed
- 2¾ cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ½-1 cup of semolina flour plus 2 tablespoons for dusting parchment paper
- ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
- 4 tablespoons of boiling water
- 3 teaspoons vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of vegetable broth for sautéing
- 1½ cups of chopped roasted red bell peppers from a jar
- 8 cups of spinach, chopped (or 1 10-ounce package frozen)
- 4 cups sliced all white or Cremini mushrooms (or combination of both)
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Rinse the lentils under running water and drain. Add lentils, vegetable broth, salt and bay leaf to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the broth absorbed. Check on them occasionally. Discard the bay leaf and transfer to a mixing bowl. Set aside until cool.
- Meanwhile, combine the ¼ teaspoon of saffron with 4 tablespoons of boiling water, stir and set aside.
- When the lentils are cool, stir in the saffron mixture. Stir in ½ cup of flour and mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Keep adding more flour until the lentils take on a dough-like consistency. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and ground black pepper if needed. Set aside.
- In a large saute pan, heat the ¼ cup of vegetable broth and season with salt and ground black pepper. Add the mushrooms, spinach, red peppers, thyme, basil, rosemary. Saute for about 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms are soft. Transfer to a colander and drain off juice. Chop coarsely and pour the mixture into a mixing bowl.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped walnuts and toast lightly, stirring or until the nuts are golden and fragrant. This will only take 2-3 minutes.
- Add the walnuts to the vegetables.
- Dust a large piece of parchment paper with 2 tablespoons of the semolina flour. Place the red lentil dough on top and shape with your hands a rectangle. Then, using a well floured rolling pin, roll into a 8 by 10-inch rectangle. If the rolling pin is sticking, use your hands. Brush the dough with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Spread the mushroom mixture evenly onto the dough.
- Slowly roll the dough into a log shape by rolling the parchment paper along with the dough.Don't worry if the parchment paper gets rolled into the log. It will slide out easily after it cools. Pinch the ends of the parchment and place the log onto an oiled baking sheet , seam-side down. Brush the parchment paper with a little more vegetable oil. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the parchment paper. Cut the log into 8 rounds. Place 2 rounds each onto plate. Serve with mushroom gravy.