You knew that my first recipe after vegan January would have the word 'cheesy' in the title, right? How could I not? However, I promise I won't be going back to my old ways. I'm definitely going to make an effort to cut back on the cheese. Just let me have this one.
These little cheesy lentil loaves turned out so much better than I could have hoped. They're beautifully crisp on the outside (and you all know how amazing crispy cheese tastes), but unlike a lot of lentil loaves, they're still soft and moist inside. I included an egg in the mixture to help them remain light and fluffy, and it totally worked - they even souffléd up a little in the oven. Much nicer than the dry, crumbly bricks that you often find masquerading as lentil loaves.
Look at how fluffy!
These little loaves are really versatile - we had ours for lunch with salad and coleslaw but they'd be a great protein for your vegetarian roast dinner too, with some roasted vegetables and gravy. They're also the perfect little thing to pop in a packed lunch and eat cold. And I haven't tried this yet but I bet they'd even be fine if you froze them and just took one out every now and then for a quick dinner. I'll try this and if I remember (which I might not), I'll report back later.
By the way, if you don't have a mini loaf tin like I used, you could definitely make these in a muffin tin instead. You could even try making one big slab in a cake tin, though I wouldn't spread the mixture any more than about an inch thick, or your ratio of soft centre and crispy outside will be a bit off. You don't want to miss out on any of that crispy, cheesy exterior!
- 150g red lentils
- 400ml vegetable stock
- 200ml hot water
- 1tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 150g cheddar cheese, grated
- 100g breadcrumbs
- ½tsp smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- Combine the red lentils, stock and water in a saucepan, and put them on to boil.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan, and cook the onion and garlic over a medium-low heat for around 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Continue cooking the lentils until very soft, probably around 20 minutes in total. When the liquid begins to boil away you will need to stir very regularly to prevent the lentils from sticking. Once the lentils have begun to break down, turn the heat down a bit to prevent them from spitting, and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another few minutes to allow the mixture to thicken a bit more.
- Remove the lentils from the heat, and add the onion and garlic mixture, cheese, breadcrumbs, smoked paprika and plenty of black pepper. Taste the mixture to check for seasoning (you might need a bit of salt if you used low-sodium stock). At this point the mixture should be fairly thick and sticky, and should cling to the spoon for 2-3 seconds before dropping off. You can adjust the consistency with either a dash of water (to make the mixture thinner) or a few more breadcrumbs (to make it thicker).
- Heat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F).
- Leave the mixture to cool for a few minutes, and then stir in the egg.
- Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased mini loaf tin or cupcake tray. In my tray, the mixture made 6 mini loaves, but this might vary a little depending on the size of your tray. Gently press the mixture into the corners of the pan and smooth each loaf out on top.
- Bake for around 45 minutes, until golden brown and fairly firm to the touch. Either serve immediately or, if leaving to cool, turn out onto a cooling rack.