Sunday, April 10, 2016

Marsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf

I have been on a lentil loaf kick of late.  In fact, I have made this BBQ Lentil Loaf twice in the very recent past and I just love it! I decided to give BBQ a break for the next loaf which got me thinking about interesting ways to flavor a lentil loaf.

The other day I made some Mushroom Marsala and put it over a baked potato much the way most people put it over chicken. Delicious! If this mushroom and marsala wine mixture was that good, on a potato, could it be the basis for flavoring a lentil loaf? As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained so I set out to try.

The verdict? Yes! This is definitely reminiscent of the flavors of chicken marsala but with a "meatloaf" twist. I loved it, and I hope you will too.

Warning: this is a bit time consuming; not a quick weeknight meal by any stretch.  I suggest making this ahead and reheating if you want a quick dinner. It freezes really well, too so you can have one teed up and ready to go in your freezer for a time of your choosing.

Marsala Mushroom Lentil Loaf

For the loaf:
1 cup green lentils
21/2 cups vegetable stock, divided
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz button mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
3 tbsp ground chia seed
1/2 cup marsala wine
1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste

For the marsala gravy:
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1/2 cup marsala wine plus 1 tbsp
3/4 cup plus 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 parsley sprigs, whole
5 oz cremini mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and sliced thin
Salt and pepper to taste

Add lentils to a medium saucepan and add two cups vegetable stock and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils have absorbed all the liquid and are soft but not mushy. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While lentils are cooking, add1tbsp vegan butter and olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent and begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute a minute more.  Add 1 tbs of flour to the pan and stir for about a minute.  Add the button and shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the mushrooms release their liquid and soften. Add the 1/2 cup of marsala wine and 1/2 cup of vegetable stock and continue to cook until the mushrooms are very soft and the liquid thickens to the consistency of gravy. Remove from the heat.

Add the cooked lentils to a large bowl. Very lightly mash with a potato masher to break open some of the lentils. Take care to not over mash the lentils. Some lentils should still appear whole.  Add the mushroom mixture to the lentils along with the thyme, parsley, chia seed and cornmeal.  Stir until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Prepare a loaf pan by spraying with cooking oil and lining with parchment paper. Add the lentil mixture to the loaf pan, smoothing the top and allow it to sit for about twenty minutes so that the cornmeal can soak up the moisture and the loaf sets.

While the loaf is resting prepare the gravy by heating a small saucepan over medium heat and adding 1 tsp olive ok and vegan butter.  When heated, add the onion and saute briefly until translucent. Add the flour and stir. Cook for a minute or two.  Add another 1/2 cup marsala wine and 3/4 cup vegetable stock and the whole parsley sprigs. Simmer lightly (there should be small bubbles around the edges but it should not boil. When the consistency of gravy remove the parsley sprigs and put about 1/4 cup on the top of the meatloaf and brush to spread evenly. Place the loaf in the oven for 60 minutes.

While the loaf is cooking add the last of the mushrooms and last 1/2 cup vegetable stock and last 1 tbsp of marsala wine to a skillet over medium heat. Allow the mushrooms to cook until very tender. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked mushrooms to the prepared gravy that was used to brush the top of the loaf. Set aside.

When the loaf is finished cooking remove it from the oven and allow it to stand at least 20 minutes. If the loaf is cut too early it will fall apart.

Once the loaf has sufficiently cooled and set lift out of the loaf pan and transfer to a serving tray. Slice, top with mushroom gravy and garnish with parsley if desired.*

*Note: if the mushroom gravy has cooled, simply reheat it on top of the stove or in the microwave at a medium heat.

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