This post marks Day 20 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
Like me, you may know a few vegetarians. Like me, you may have once been one of those vegetarians.
In those days, I was always a little befuddled at the holidays. I mean, feast foods are pretty proscribed for omnivores (1. roast something 2. add starchy sides).
Those who shun meat are left without a lot of festive "center of the plate" foods. Spinach lasagna just seemed so everyday, and I was never wild about the tofurkey.
While making this vegetarian loaf I was humming a little Simon & Garfunkle, so you can probably guess the inspiration for the seasonings...
Though suitable for lacto-ovo vegetarians, this loaf does contain a little egg and milk, which help it stick together better. If you're making a vegan loaf, skip the egg and milk and substitute 1/2 cup vegetable stock.
Chestnuts are a bit easier to come by at the holidays, and I think they make the loaf particularly seasonal.
The Scarborough Loaf (Makes 1 9" by 3" loaf)
1/2 cup brown or red lentils
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided in two portions
1/2 lb (8oz) mushrooms, chopped
1 large onion, chopped (1/2" pieces)
10-12 whole chestnuts, roasted & chopped (or substitute 1 cup chopped walnuts/pecans)
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh sage
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1. Put the lentils in a saucepan with enough water to cover by 1 inch. Add a pinch of salt to the pan, set over a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Simmer 15-20 minutes or until very soft. Drain off any excess water and reserve the lentils.
2. Meanwhile, pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil into a large skillet and sauté the chopped mushrooms for 10 to 12 minutes. When softened, move the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl.
3. To the same skillet, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and sweat the onion pieces. When the onions are soft and translucent, remove them from the heat and add to the mushrooms in the mixing bowl.
4. Mix the drained lentils, chopped chestnuts, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and ground pepper into the mushroom-onion mixture.
5. Blend in the breadcrumbs, then add the egg, milk, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce.
6. Lightly oil a loaf pan, press the mixture firmly into the pan and bake at 350°F for 25 minutes. Slice and serve warm.
While quite nice on its own, I think it'd be even more fancy (and tasty) drizzled with a mushroom cream sauce or a vegetarian gravy.