Making Meatloaf without the Meat

Over the summer, I was given 20-plus recipes to fill up a brand-new recipe book as part of a bridal shower, which is pretty much heaven for me. The one I knew I had to try first as part of my preparation for fall-is-coming excitement is a meatless meatloaf that uses butternut squash and lentils, two of my favorite things ever. I pretty much keep frozen butternut squash in my freezer year-round for my multitude of squash recipes.

I had to do some digging to find where the giver of this particular recipe had found it, but it turns out that it came from Catching Seeds, which is a new site to me. It’s a delightful food blog geared towards vegans, and after this one I’m so excited to try out other recipes (including a certain chocolate beet donut recipe).

This Vegan Butternut Squash Lentil Loaf is perfect for fall foodies. Here’s what you need for one loaf (I doubled it and made two).

For the squash:

  • 3 cups cubed butternut squash 
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch pepper

For the loaf:

  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal
  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon smoky paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2.5 cups cooked brown lentils
  • 1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos or tamari
  • tablespoons mellow white miso or chickpea miso
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

A few notes on the ingredients. Since I use frozen squash, it took about a bag and a half to get to three cups worth of squash. Flaxseed meal can usually be found in the baking aisles of the co-op; liquid aminos and white miso (powder) are both found in Asian food aisles, but if you won’t use the aminos often enough to warrant buying a whole bottle, tamari works superbly. Honey is not considered vegan for everyone, so if you’re concerned about that, I think agave would be an okay substitute. Additionally, as someone who really dislikes balsamic vinegar in general, I was worried about using it here, but it was really delicious! If you want to swap it out, however, apple cider vinegar would work just fine.

I also don’t really like pepper, so I didn’t include it, and I also substituted olive oil for the avocado oil. I took the squash, olive oil, and salt and placed it on a baking tray to be baked at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. While that was baking, I boiled the lentils; I used green lentils, which use a two-to-one ratio of water to lentils and simmer for about 20 minutes. I combined the flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water (as the egg substitute) and set it aside to thicken while I sautéed the onion, celery, and garlic in coconut oil. As with any onion sautée, I added the spices after the pieces became translucent.

a pan of cubed squash to be roasted

Butternut squash to be roasted

When the lentils and squash were done, half of each went in a large bowl to be mashed using a potato masher. I mashed the mixture about five minutes or so just to be sure, since lentils are hard to mash. I then added everything else, including the last half of both lentils and squash, and thoroughly mixed. I used one brand-new loaf pan and one heirloom pan to hold the mixture and baked it at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Two loaves of squash

After baking, preglaze.

While the delicious, delicious aromas of the loaf baking filled my kitchen, I mixed up the ketchup-y glaze for one loaf. The ingredients needed were:

  • ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or alternative of your choice)
  • ½ teaspoon liquid aminos or tamari
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch smoky paprika
  • Pinch cinnamon

I brought the vinegar to a boil, and simmered for two minutes; after removing it from heat, I added the paste, honey, tamari, and spices to it and whisked gently. I brushed it on each loaf to thoroughly cover it and then baked it for another 20 minutes.

Two finished, glazed loaves

Postglaze baking—ready to eat!

I’d recommend eating this with an apple on the side and maybe a small side salad of your choice. However, I ate it with cherries and a golden-tofu tomato dish over rice. It’s very filling on its own as well.

Two slices of meatloaf, cherries, and the tofu dish

Two slices of meatloaf, cherries, and the tofu dish.

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