Recipe Test: Lentil and Nut Loaf

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Do you remember when I posted about this dish while I was in Ireland?  I was visiting the Avoca Weaving Mills and the Avoca Cafe at the time.  

The cafe was wonderful.  It was hard to decide what to have for lunch, everything looked so good.  Eventually, I settled on this Lentil and Nut Loaf, and I was glad I did.  It was so delicious that I boldly asked for the recipe.  They were happy to oblige by directing me to their wonderful cookbook, The Avoca Cafe Cookbook.

Since coming home, I've wasted no time in trying the recipe for the Lentil and Nut Loaf myself.  It turned out so good!  The recipe calls for Puy lentils, which I discovered are French green lentils, available at Whole Foods.  There is quite a bit of chopping involved, but I believe this could be accomplished easily in a food processor.  Avoid over-processing, however.  I would probably cut things up into bite sized chunks, and then just pulse them a few times.  Once I had all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, I used the tools the good Lord gave me--clean hands--to mix it up.  Better than play-dough, if you're feeling childish.

The recipe suggests lining your loaf pan with parchment.  This seemed rather difficult to me.  I couldn't figure out how to get the parchment in smoothly, and foil wasn't a lot better.  A loaf pan is too narrow for this.  I used a non-stick pan and sprayed it with some non-stick spray.  I had no problem at all getting the loaf out of the pan.  The loaf is a dense vegetarian (but not vegan) loaf that will last two people several days.  If you're willing to put in the 20 minutes or so of chopping time, you'll have dinner or lunch for several days.

One last note.  The Avoca Cafe served this up with a delicious sweet tomato chutney.  Sadly, the recipe for the chutney is not included in this cookbook.  My understanding is that there are actually two cookbooks from the Avoca Cafe, and I was going to see if I could track down the recipe for the tomato chutney.  If not, I imagine I can find something equally good somewhere on the internet.  For my dinner last night, I used my own blueberry chutney, but any sweet/spicy chutney will do.  And that reminds me, I'm going to be making up a batch of blueberry chutney now that blueberries are in season.  I'll blog about it when I do.  Until then, here is the recipe for the Avoca Cafe's delicious Lentil and Nut Loaf.

Lentil and Nut Loaf
from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook
Serves 6-8

2 ounces French green lentils (Puy lentils)
11ounces orange lentils
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion -- peeled and chopped
3 carrots -- peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper -- diced
3 celery sticks -- diced
6 cloves garlic -- peeled and chopped
1/2 fresh red chili -- deseeded and finely chopped
2 heaping teaspoons ground cumin
3 ounces bread crumbs
5 ounces cheddar cheese -- grated
3 ounces roasted nuts, such as pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts -- chopped
6 eggs

Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-pound loaf tin (non-stick, if possible).  Place the French green and orange lentils in separate pans, cover each with cold water, and cook until they begin to split--approximately 12-14 minutes for the French green lentils, 8 minutes for the orange lentils.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add all the diced vegetables, garlic, chili, and cumin.  Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook the mixture or the vegetables will lose their color.  Remove from the heat and add to the lentils with the breadcrumbs, cheese, nuts and eggs.  Mix thoroughly, then season well and taste.  The mixture should be quite highly seasoned, but not too salty.  Place in the loaf tin and bake in an oven preheated to 325°F for 45 minutes, until firm to the touch.  Turn out and cut into slices to serve.  It can be eaten hot or cold.  

7 comments from clever and witty friends:

Teresa in Music City said...

It looks and sounds wonderful! I'm no cook, but I may have to try that :*) Thanks for sharing!

Kate Brown said...

looks yummy!

Astrid said...

It looks so yummy! I love to try out new recipes and this one is definitely one on my priority list. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Julianne K said...

What are those pink things? Beets?

Snoodles said...

Mmmm, it looks wonderful. But I really am zeroing in on the blueberry chutney promise! Mine are coming in, so I have some I can use. Looking forward to seeing the "receet" as my Grams used to say!

Celtic Thistle said...

I've 3 Avoca cookbooks Barbara and none of them have the recipe for the tomato chutney, sorry!

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