A note of explanation: A vegetarian roast or loaf is usually a mixture of some kind of beans, grains, nuts, cheese, eggs and other ingredients baked in a loaf or rectangular pan and served as the main dish at dinner or supper. It is the protein dish for the meal.
I was at a church potluck, many years ago, in another town (which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) and had the misfortune of eating, or trying to eat, a piece of lentil roast. It was ghastly. Not only was the texture mushy and the taste unpleasant, but while trying to smile and eat this horrid stuff I found myself chewing on a large piece of onion skin. It put me off lentils and lentil roast for years. I'd avoid it at each and every potluck and I certainly never made it. But over the course of years I slowly reintroduced myself to this potluck staple and found that not everyone left huge chunks of onion skin in their creations. I still didn't like the roast as I always found it mushy. It was like mashed beans disintegrating in my mouth. The taste wasn't bad, as brown and green lentils do have a nice meaty flavour but I just couldn't get over the texture. But what do you do when someone is asking if you had a piece of their lentil roast? I would trot right over to the food table and take the tiniest piece and eat it, smile and nod and tell its maker that the flavour was lovely but thinking it's the same mushy roast. It just seemed to me that everyone was using the same recipe or at best the same ingredients and method of putting this loathsome roast together.
Skip ahead to the eve of the 21st Century where predictions of earth's destruction by various cataclysmic phenomena were screamed from the headlines of every sensational newspaper at the supermarket stands. Was I worried? Was I hoarding barrels of beans and powdered milk? No, I was inventing the new Lentil Roast. Instead of hunkering down to face earth's certain doom, I was experimenting with lentils. I searched cookbooks and the Internet for the perfect recipe but nothing I saw or tried was up to my standards of non-mushiness or the recipes had so many ingredients (and strange ingredients) that they weren't practical to make.
Then one day I threw some ingredients in a bowl and this is what turned out. I wanted some firm texture so I didn't mash the lentils as so many recipe instructions advise. I wanted flavour so I added onions, cheese and nuts along with the seasonings. I added eggs and bread crumbs for binding. I wanted it quick so I used canned lentils. Eventually, I added the ketchup topping as I think it lends nicely to the roast, somewhat reminiscent of a meatloaf. Then I named the recipe so my children would forever be reminded who made this roast.
I have created the perfect Lentil Roast for my taste. It is good served hot with mashed potatoes and vegetables or cold with potato salads and it makes a dandy sandwich with mayonnaise and pickles served on your favourite bread.
So for all of perpetuity (or as long as this blog lasts) here is Mom's (that's me) Lentil Roast.
Mom’s Quick Lentil Roast
1 can lentils, drained or about 1½ cups drained cooked lentils
1 cup fresh bread crumbs OR ½ cup cracker crumbs
⅓ cup any kind nuts, finely chopped or blended
1 medium onion, diced small
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup any kind cheese, grated
1 teaspoon savoury (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon seasoned salt
⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees if you oven is hot). Grease or spray an 8-inch square baking dish.
In a small pan sauté diced onion in oil until just soft. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with the cooked onion. Bake in greased dish at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.
Makes 6-8 servings.
¼ cup ketchup
1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Mix together and spread over roast before baking.
Everything's ready to be made into a tasty lentil roast.
The lentils are drained, onions cooked, cheese, crumbs and nuts are measured.
Dump all the ingredients into the bowl.
Mix, mix, mix.
Then turn into a greased dish or pan.
Before and after baking.
I always use the ketchup topping as I like the contrast between the sweet topping and salty roast.
Lentil Roast served cold with a potato salad.
Lentil Roast served hot with mashed potatoes and vegetables.