Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spaghetti with Lentil Loaf - Vegan and Gluten-Free

I actually hated spaghetti as a child. It's true. I had a bad stomach episode one time and after that, spaghetti was (literally) off the table for me. I would (very) begrudgingly eat it, but having a second (this time allergic) reaction in my pre-teens made certain I was never to enjoy spaghetti again.

Now, I really should clarify: I like spaghetti noodles. I have no problem with them (as long as they're gluten-free). And I like tomatoes that are raw. But put the noodles and cooked tomatoes together and you have a very unhappy me.

Instead, I like to add foods to the pasta and still call it spaghetti. It makes me feel like I'm just as cool as all those other Italian-loving foodies out there.

Enter my newest favorite meal: spaghetti noodles with lentil loaf. Vegan and gluten-free, this is a dish that keeps me coming back for more. Another funny fact: I hated meatloaf as a child, too (I'm sure this will come to no surprise to my mother!), yet, once it's made with lentils and rice instead, as it is in this recipe, I find it absolutely delicious.

**Note: Be sure and make the lentil loaf first; let it chill in the fridge for at least one day before making it into your spaghetti topping. 

Spaghetti with Lentil Loaf
Serves 4-6

Lentil Loaf Ingredients:
2 c. cooked green lentils
1/2 c. cooked brown rice
4 c. water or broth
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. almonds
1/2 c. gluten-free crackers, crushed
1/2 c. ketchup
3 T. wheat-free tamari
3 T. vegan ranch dressing
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. black pepper
salt to taste

For Glaze:
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. coconut palm sugar
1 t. cayenne pepper (optional)

Prepare Loaf:
  1. Preheat oven to 350'. Heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. While heating, pulse onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add them to the pan and saute until softened, about 5-10 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In the food processor, pulse almonds and gluten-free crackers until finely ground (but not nut butter consistency!). Set aside. Add almonds, onions, and lentils and rice to all remaining ingredients in a pot and mix well. Taste and season accordingly. 
  3. Scoop into a loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes. Add the glaze in the last 20 minutes of baking (mix the ketchup, sugar and cayenne pepper and spread on top of loaf).
Make the meal:
  1. A day later, cook a package of gluten-free spaghetti in a stove top pan according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, saute 4 or 5 chopped mushrooms in an oiled pan on medium heat. Once they are done, crumble and add the lentil mixture, a handful at a time, to the mushrooms, and stir as it crisps and heats up. This could take up to 15 minutes, which is perfect, as gluten-free pasta often takes longer to cook.
  2. Drain the spaghetti and top each serving with a large dollop of the lentil loaf-mushroom mixture.
  3. Sprinkle with walnut-nutritional yeast "Parmesan" or just call it good and enjoy!

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