You asked for it, you got it! A couple of days ago, I couldn’t decide which recipe to post here on the blog, so I polled readers on my Facebook page, and the votes were about two to one in favor of these savory veggie-lentil loaves! I must admit I was a bit surprised given my own love of sweets. For those new to an anti-candida diet or anyone who follows a dairy-free, egg-free and gluten-free diet, this recipe will meet your dietary needs perfectly–and it’s here just under the wire for the holidays! In fact, it may just make an appearance on our own holiday table this year, we enjoyed it so much. And not to worry–the sweet option will show up next time. Thanks to everyone who voted!
As a rule, I must admit I’m not a huge fan of the concept of “mini” (unless you count mini skirts, which I adored in my 20s and 30s and wore fairly frequently). One of my friends in childhood collected those Wade figurines that used to come for free in boxes of Red Rose tea–tiny birds, rabbits, puppies, frogs, even flowers and plants, all painstakingly painted and glazed. They were cute, I supposed, but I would have been worried I’d lose them too easily; and really, I wondered what the heck one would do with them except perhaps count them and then place them back on the shelf (and these days, I’d wonder how the heck one would dust them all). When I was first introduced to a platter of petits fours at a party years ago, my initial impulse was to eat four or five of them to equal the same mass as one “full” piece of cake. (Miniature chocolates never interested me, either–obviously).
The HH does keep telling me that he thinks my car is far too “mini,” but I love it even if there isn’t quite enough room to house both my groceries and The Girls in the back seat at the same time. (“We love it, too, Mum. And I don’t mind having to drive with my head resting on Elsie’s bum because of how crowded it is. . . it’s worth it if it means we get a drive to the trail!”).
Besides, my little vroom-vroom is a Bugatti Type 41 compared to the car I once rode in on a blind date. My friend Sterlin had fixed me up with her classmate’s brother. Mr. Bro drove up in a red Alfa Romea Spider, shook my hand, then rounded back to his side of the car without so much as a glance in my direction (despite the fact that I was wearing one of those aforementioned mini skirts). Had I not rushed to grab the handle and slide into the tiny seat, I daresay he would likely have driven off without me. We proceeded to have the shortest date on record (less than 45 minutes, including dinner, as I recall), and that was the last I ever heard from him. Despite the enormity of his ego, his car remains the smallest one I’ve ever seen.
But back to the loaves. An exception to my miniature-aversion, they won my heart (and stomach). While I will always adore my full-sized nut roasts, I wanted something a little more elegant for this recipe, something you could feel proud to serve to friends–or at a holiday dinner. They provide a rather impressive presentation with their verdant cloak of rich avocado-tahini sauce, inspired by a sauce made with an avocado-tahini combo in Nava Atlas’s latest cookbook. And since the serving size is already pre-determined, there are no awkward moments after starting to cut slices too thick and ending up with only a few paltry dregs left by the time you get to Aunt Agnes if she’s the last one served.
The loaves themselves are not another attempt at mock-meat, but rather a full-on, veggie-centric offering, moist and colorful with carrot, zucchini and fennel (if you’re not a fennel fan, you can use another veggie such as celery or even broccoli in its place; but do give the fennel a try. 2012 was my Year of Learning to Love Fennel, and I highly recommend it in this dish). The mild flavor of the loaves is perfectly complemented by the creamy, savory sauce.
And it may be a cliché to say, but the loaves are big on flavor despite their diminutive size. And clearly, they won the maximum number of votes among all of you, too.
Individual Veggie-Lentil Loaves with Warm Avocado-Tahini Sauce
Delicious, nourishing and comforting, these mini loaves are chock full of vegetables and high in protein. And they make a lovely presentation if you’re serving to guests at a holiday dinner. For a weeknight meal, you can bake in a regular loaf pan. This recipe can be easily doubled.
For the loaves:
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove any small stones
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) vegetable broth or stock, plus up to 1/2 cup (120 ml) more, if necessary
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 small or 1/2 large zucchini (4.5 oz or 125 g), coarsely chopped (you can leave the skin on)
1/2 medium fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1/2 large white onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 large carrot, grated
1/4 cup (60 ml) quinoa flakes
1/3 cup (80 ml) garfava flour (or use chickpea flour)
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) paprika
1/4 tsp (1 ml) celery salt
1/4 tsp (1 ml) onion salt
1 tsp (5 ml) white or light miso paste
For the Sauce:
1/2 small avocado
2 Tbsp (30 ml) tahini
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh parsley, chopped
Prepare the loaves: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Spray 6 miniature loaf pans with nonstick spray, or grease with coconut oil. Set aside.
Place the lentils and broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer; cover the pot and allow the lentils to cook for 25 minutes, checking for doneness after 15 minutes or so. Once the lentils are soft and the liquid has been absorbed, turn off heat (if the liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked, add another 1/2 cup/120 ml broth and keep cooking).
In a large nonstick frypan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini, fennel, onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and quinoa flakes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Add the lentils to the processor and blend until well mixed but there is still a bit of texture from the vegetables (I made mine almost smooth, but a few flecks of carrot and zucchini were still visible). Transfer to the pans and smooth the tops of each.
Bake the loaves in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the tops are well browned. Allow cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto serving plates. Top with a spoonful of Avocado-Tahini Sauce and serve. Makes 5-6 mini loaves.
During the final 15 minutes while the loaves bake, make the Avocado-Tahini Sauce (you can make it before hand, but note that the color will darken as the sauce sits): In a small food processor, blender or Magic Bullet, blend together all ingredients. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until just warmed through. Spoon over lentil loaves and serve. This sauce is also terrific over pasta. Makes about one cup (240 ml).
Suitable for: ACD All Stages, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, nut free, vegan, low glycemic.
Thanks to everyone who entered to win my trio of ebooks last week–and congratulations to Constance, who won! Whoo hoo! And don’t forget that the giveaway to win a series of 24 online cooking classes from Heather Nauta continues until tomorrow!
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Three Years Ago: Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpes and Tahini Dressing (gluten free; ACD All Stages)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs