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Stellar, grain-free lentil loaf made with  ease and humble pantry ingredients. Packed with flavor, it is vegan, gluten-free, high in protein (8.5 grams) and only 150 calories per jumbo slice!
sliced grain-free vegan lentil loaf with a sprig of rosemary

A Better, Simpler Lentil Loaf

The first time I made a meatless meatloaf of any kind was in my tiny, windowless, graduate school kitchen.

It was freezing outside, I was missing home, and I needed dinner, Sadly, long days in the classroom and library, coupled with a tight student budget, meant my refrigerator and pantry pickings were limited to a short list of dried goods, the most basic of condiments, and a limp bouquet of carrots and celery.

But I had a recipe that fit the bill: a Lentil No-Meatloaf, saved months earlier from an internet search for cheap, healthy and meatless meals.

Dried lentils, carrots, celery, oats, and ketchup? Check, times, three! I didn’t have an onion, nor garlic, but I did have powdered forms of each. The recipe had 22 steps (22 steps!), but I whittled them to far fewer as I cooked.

The results were delectable. It should have lasted for days, but I think I ate a third of the loaf that first night.

A Lentil Loaf with More Protein and No Grains

The original recipe I comprised is long since gone, but today’s recipe is darn close. I’ve whittled the steps (22 was a bit much), but I’ve kept the ingredients humble.

I’ve also made the loaf grain-free and even higher in protein than the original, or other recipes I’ve come across (which use wheat and/or oats). Humility aside, this loaf is pretty darn great.

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How to Make a Grain-Free Lentil Loaf

Note that the complete directions are also in the recipe card below.

Sep 1: Cook the lentils

To make this modest loaf, you’ll need to cook some lentils to the point where they are falling apart, but not complete mush.

You can use any variety of lentils (red, brown, green, split or whole), but it will take a bit longer to cook whole lentils (vs. split). This time around, I used split red lentils. Here they are, cooked to the “beginning to fall apart” stage I indicate in the recipe.

I do not want the photo above to be misleading in that there should be leftover liquid in the pot when the lentils are finished cooking (I lifted them with a slotted spoon onto the plate). You will want to keep the liquid (do not drain).

Step 2: Cook the vegetables

While the lentils simmer away, go ahead and get the vegetables cooking.

Specifically, sauté chopped onions, carrots, celery and bell pepper (red or orange) in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil (or use the oil you prefer). If you do not eat oil, leave it out and steam or microwave the vegetables until soft.

Near the end of cooking, add the seasonings: rosemary, garlic powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

Step 3: Chop some of the ingredients in a food processor

Combine the vegetables and ALL of the lentils (plus remaining liquid) in a large bowl, and then transfer about 3/4 of the mixture to a food processor. Pulse until blended but not smooth.

More finely chopping a majority of the lentil-vegetable mixture helps to hold the loaf together. Leaving a fraction of the lentil-vegetable mixture unblended gives the finished loaf a hearty, toothsome texture.

Add the processed lentil mixture back to the bowl with the remaining lentils mixture and stir in the flours (chickpea and coconut) and flaxseed meal. The batter should be somewhat stiff, but still plenty moist. If it is too dry or too wet, add a touch more water or coconut flour as needed.

Taste the mix and add more salt and pepper, or other seasonings, as desired.

Step 4: Shape & bake the loaf

Spoon the batter into the pan and smooth the top before slathering with either barbecue sauce or ketchup. The sauce o ketchup will caramelize as the loaf bakes, resulting in a deep, dark glaze.

After about 50 minutes in a 350F oven, you’ll have this gorgeous loaf:

This is so delicious on it’s own, minutes out of the oven, but leftovers (simply rewarmed, or as part of a sandwich) are every bit as good.

You can change out the seasoning, and even some of the vegetables (mushrooms are a fantastic addition) in all kinds of ways, too.

Happy eating, everyone!

More Easy, Plant-Based Meat Recipes to Try:

Grain-Free Lentil Loaf {Vegan, High Protein}

Grain-Free Lentil Loaf {Vegan, High Protein}

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Stellar, grain-free lentil loaf made with  ease and humble pantry ingredients. Packed with flavor, it is vegan, gluten-free, high in protein (8.5 grams) and only 150 calories per jumbo slice!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (188 g) dry lentils, (any variety), rinsed
  • 3 and 1/4 cups water
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (or oil of choice)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped relatively fine
  • 1 large carrot, chopped relatively fine
  • 1 large celery stalk, chopped relatively fine
  • 1/2 cup chopped orange or red bell pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional, but so good!)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (more to taste, as needed)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (more to taste, as needed)
  • 2/3 cup (80 g) chickpea flour, sifted as needed
  • 1/3 cup (37 g) coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons (20 g) flaxseed meal
  • 3 tablespoons organic barbecue sauce or ketchup

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water and rinsed lentils. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes until very soft and falling apart. Transfer the lentils and remaining liquid (do not drain!) to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Oil or spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan; line with parchment paper, leaving a paper overhang.
  3. While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and bell pepper. Cook and stir for 6 to 7 minutes until softened. Add the rosemary, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl with the lentils, stirring to combine.
  4. Transfer about 3/4 of the cooled lentil-vegetable mixture to a food processor; pulse until blended but not completely smooth; return to bowl with remaining lentils and vegetables.
  5. Add the chickpea flour, coconut flour, and flaxseed meal to bowl, stirring until blended, The batter should be fairly stiff, but still quite moist. Taste and adjust salt & pepper as desired. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Spoon and spread the sauce over the top.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes until well-browned and firm at the center.

Notes

Storage: Store the cooled loaf, wrapped tightly in the refrigerator for 1 week or the freezer (place wrapped loaf in an airtight zip-top bag or container) for up to 6 months.

Nutrition Information
Serving Size 1/8 of loaf
Amount Per Serving Calories 150Total Fat 4.7gSaturated Fat 0.6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 374.3mgCarbohydrates 24.5gFiber 10.1gSugar 5.4gProtein 8.5g

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About Camilla

I'm Camilla, food writer, author, runner, and spin instructor. PowerHungry® is where I share my easy, minimalist, plant-based recipes, designed for living a healthy, delicious, empowered life.

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30 Comments

    1. Hi Gina! Yes, I think oat flour will work. You may need up to twice the amount of oat flour (2/3 cup) as coconut flour, as the latter is used in much smaller quantities compared to most every other flour. I’d love to know how it works out!

  1. I just wanted to thank you for this recipe, I made a loaf this week and it was brilliant! Such good texture, and really filling considering how low calorie it is too 🙂 Cheers!

    1. I think that could work for some, but not all, of the coconut flour. Coconut flour has a lot of fiber (pea protein does not), so perhaps some pea protein and some oat flour or almond flour.

    1. Hi Meghan! Yes, a chia seed substitution should work fine. Use the equal weight of chia seeds as flaxseed meal (by volume, use half the amount of chia seeds compared to flaxseed mea. I tablespoon flaxseed meal by weight is 7.5 grams, 1 tablespoon of chia seeds is 13 grams).

  2. Too much water. It’s been baking for over an hour and still not set, not brown, don’t know if it will ever firm up. Very sad ????

    1. Hi Cindy,
      I am sorry you are having problems with the lentil loaf. There definitely should not be excess water in the loaf–was the mixture stiff, as indicated in the recipe, once you added the coconut flour and flaxseed meal? The lentils should absorb most of the water when they first cook, but remaining liquid should be absorbed by the coconut flour and flaxseed meal. Just checking that you started with dried lentils? It sounds like there must have been a lot of excess water after cooking. Did your loaf look like my photos of the steps? It sounds like there may have been an accidental over addition of water.

  3. Can’t wait to try this! Can I use 1 C chickpea flour and omit the coconut flour (or 2/3 C chickpea flour and 1/3 C almond flour)? Don’t have coconut flour on hand. Thanks!