I’m far from home as I write this post—an adventure I’ll share more about soon! Being in a very new place makes writing about a cozy holiday recipe all the sweeter and more meaningful. This red lentil chickpea loaf with simple vegan mushroom gravy is my Thanksgiving dish for 2019. But it’s simple and memorable enough to become a go-to comfort food meal, for any time of the year.
My lentil and sweet potato loaf has now been a favorite for many holiday seasons. I often make it on Christmas and share it with friends. Meatloaf is a traditional comfort food that I remember fondly from childhood (my mom’s was really good), so it’s been lovely to have a plant-based version that I trust.
And now I have two. Since I use chickpeas regularly in burgers, I figured they’d work nicely in a loaf, too. I used a potato masher to mash them up, much as I do when I’m making chickpea salad for sandwiches and wraps.
To the mashed chickpeas, I added a mixture of cooked onion, celery, and red lentils. The red lentils get mushy as they cook, which makes the loaf tender and easy to mix. Breadcrumbs and ground walnuts help to bind it all together (and the walnuts are toasted, so they add some nutty flavor, too).
You can use any bread crumb that works for you: regular, whole wheat, panko, or gluten-free. If you have a lot of bread at home, which I always do, you can also make your own! Simply toast some bread cubes in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes on a baking sheet. Next, transfer them to a food processor and blitz till they’re crumb-sized. I did this at the same time that I was toasting my walnuts for the recipe.
I like meatloaf even better with gravy, and I love mushroom gravy. This version is probably the easiest that I’ve made, and I doubled it so that I could have extra leftover. Not at all sorry to know that it’s in my fridge, waiting for me when I get home.
Along with some frozen, leftover slices of this new favorite, and very nutrient-dense, loaf.
It is so special and rewarding to create vegan holiday recipes: I love making them nostalgic and full of comfort food appeal, while also packed with good things. And there are a lot of very good things here: beans, grains, veggies, nuts. The simple, sustaining foods that keep me going all year round, but especially during this busy season!
If you try this recipe for yourself or loved ones next week, I hope you’ll like it as much as I did. You’ll let me know. I’ll be checking in plenty before Thanksgiving, but it never hurts to send out early wishes to everyone for a week that gives us all something to be grateful for. Maybe many things.