Vegetarian Meat Loaf (lentils and bean) recipe
I received a recipe request from a dear reader 'Neha Vaswani' for a vegetarian alternative to the classic meat loaf recipe. I had never made a loaf per se which did not involve flour or a wholegrain in a prominent role. So set about checking out various recipes. This Lentil and Bean loaf is IT. We loved it so much and it was an instant hit. This recipe is inspired from various meat loaf recipes available online. I had decided from the get go that I was going to use red lentils for this recipe. I mean its easier to cook, its hearty and I thought it would provide the required 'body' to the recipe. But what about Protein?. Meat has so much protein.
Vegetarian Meat Loaf (lentils and bean) recipe
I thought adding beans would give that protein kick this dish needs and also help in the binding of the recipe without using eggs (for those not wanting to use eggs for this recipe). If you desire, you can also add 2 slightly beaten egg whites to this recipe.I had Pinto Beans in my pantry, hence went for it. Another protein enriching factor I went for was TVP - Textured Vegetable Protein ( or Soya chunks as available in Indian stores). Instead of using whole wheat bread crumbs which I normally do, I used whole grain and flax bread to make my bread crumbs (Omega-3 power enrichment) along with some vegetables (of course). Vegetarian Meat Loaf (lentils and bean) recipe What is a meat loaf without cheese? hence added some cheddar to the mixture. The result was mind blowing. It had a crusty surface and insides were deliciously moist. For a minute I wondered if I would have to make something else for dinner since I only had some bowl of soup along with it!! I kept some steamed rice just in case - but believe me when I say this - this loaf filled us up like crazy! My rice was hardly touched. I will be sure to make this again.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Serves: 4 people
  • Yields: Makes one 9X5 inch loaf - about 4-6 servings
  • 1 celery, chopped (including the greens)
  • 1 carrot,grated
  • 1 onion,chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 15-oz can pinto beans
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/4 cup TVP ( or soy chunks)
  • 1 cup freshly made wholegrain and flax bread crumbs ( or use wholewheat bread crumbs or you can add ground flax seeds to the mixture)
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese,grated
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp cumin-coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder (or as per taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 2-1/2 - 3 cups vegetable broth/water
1. Clean the red lentils in cold water until the water runs clear. Place it in a pan along with the vegetable broth (start with 2-1/2 cups) and cook until cooked.
2. Add the soy chunks to it and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes until the soy chunks get soft.
3. Make sure that this mixture is mushy and does not have excess liquid.
4. In a skillet, in 1 tsp of olive oil, saute the onions along with salt. When soft, add the carrots, celery, red bell pepper and cook until the vegetables get soft. Another 3-4 minutes. Now add the ketchup, tomato paste along with spices. Cook until the rawness of the tomato paste goes away.
5. Process this mixture along with beans into a paste.
6. Add this to the cooked lentils (its mushy and does not need to be processed).
7. Now add the cheese and bread crumbs and mix well until blended. You can at this point taste this mixture to see if the seasoning is enough for your taste. Add more salt/pepper if you desire (or some cayenne pepper to increase the hotness of the dish).
8. Transfer this to a greased loaf pan. Level the top.
9. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 1 hour. You will see the surface of the loaf looking crusty and sort of dry (but it actually provides a nice crunch).
Cool a little bit, remove from pan, cut it into slices and serve - either warm or cold as per your preference. Update: I got quite a few queries asking me what to do if the loaf does not set and remains too moist even after baking. If your insides do not harden enough to form into a loaf, just place the loaf pan in the fridge for 1 hour or so. It will harden and you will be able to cut them like a loaf. You can always re heat the cut slices in the oven for few minutes (or m/w) before serving in such a case. We personally liked it warm. Its moist, hearty with the bean and lentils complementing each other well. Vegetarian Meat Loaf (lentils and bean) recipe The cheese adds a delicious moistness to the loaf. In short this is a healthy protein rich dish. This dish finds its way to Srivalli's My Legume Love Affair Event, original brainchild being Susan from Well-Seasoned Cook Vegetarian Meat Loaf (lentils and bean) recipe

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3 Member Reviews

By Bill on Dec 27, 2010

I made this by following the recipe as more of a form of inspiration, then directions.  The ingredients are wonderful and the flavor I created was a bit bolder which I really like.

Definitely will make this again!

By Chantal on Oct 25, 2010

I had been looking for a vegloaf to make for while now, then I found this one.  I tried it and I was really impressed with it.  The recipe was easy to follow, easy to make and it was delicious.  Even my boyfriend who is a meat eater enjoyed it very much.  I froze the remaining and then one day I make a sandwich and added some loaf in it and it was really good. 

Read All 3 Reviews →


By Rebecca on Sep 22, 2013

by "1 celery" do you mean a stick of celery or a heart

By Ambika on Sep 20, 2013

This sounds soo nice. But can I replace the beans and several of the spices with leftover kidney bean curry? I have some left and was not looking forward to eating it. :(

By BK on May 30, 2013

Hi Thanks for this lovely recipe. What can we use to sub the TVP ( or soy chunks)? BK

By Allison on May 29, 2013

Love this recipe! I actually didn't have pinto beans on hand so I used Kidney beans the 1st time I made this. I later tried it with the pinto and my whole family agreed it was better with the kidney beans, so we use kidney now. We omit the cheese all together and its still great. My husband (who usually gives my vegan dishes a solid 4 or 5 on the taste scale) gave this a 9! And with a bit of catchup my 3 kiddos eat it right up!

By Nancy on Dec 15, 2012

Does this freeze well? I'm the only vegetarian in the house so there would be a lot left over.

By Vegetarian December 2012 Menu | OAMC from Once A Month Mom on Dec 1, 2012

[...] PancakesMexican LasagnaQuinoa Sweet Potato BurgersGnocchi with Kale, Cilantro and Cashew PestoVegetarian MeatloafTamale Pie with Pumpkin CornbreadSlow Cooker Coconut Tofu Curry**Indicates meals that require NO [...]

By Jennifer on May 16, 2012

I made this tonight and love it. I left out the TVP because I didn't want anything processed in the loaf but that didn't seem to affect the taste which was super fantastic!!! I made these in mini loaf pans so that I could freeze the leftovers but everyone loved it so much that there wasn't much left to freeze. Thank you.

By Fritzi Schnitzer on May 14, 2012

Cheese is a slaughterhouse product.

Not the vegetarian cheese :)

By Sara on May 1, 2012

I really liked the flavor but my husband said it tasted "too much like bean dip." I think I might modify the next time by not adding the beans and maybe more TVP (for more meaty texture) and maybe an egg or two to help solidify. Mine did not solidify, although it did the next day. This might be a good make and freeze dish for that reason. Since the veggies are pureed beyond all recognition, I might also find a frozen veg blend to make this easy on a weeknight (like frozen mushrooms and bell peppers).

By Rashmi on Apr 26, 2012

This recipe looks yummy!! My son is allergic to red lentils. What is the substitute for it? I really want to make this recipe. Thanks...

By Aarthi on Mar 29, 2012

Hi DK, After going through this recipe 2 more doubts come to my mind which need clarifying. Firstly, if I do not find canned beans, what is the substitute I can do? Suppose I use pre-soaked beans,at home- then what is the quantity I must use for this recipe? Secondly, what is the temperature I need to set for the oven to bake this? Is any preheating required for the oven before preparing this too? Thanks and looking forward to your replies :-P

1/2 cup dry beans (any type you prefer - chickpeas, kidney beans etc). The Oven temp is in step 9

By Aarthi on Mar 28, 2012

Hi DK, This looks soooo delicious, I am surely going to make it this week. Just need a clarification. By red lentils, did you mean Masoor Dal? Coz I havent seen anything else remotely red in lentils..Please clarify?

Yes, its masoor dal --DK

By Polpettone vegan | Cucina e Ricette su on Mar 19, 2012

[...] Ricetta originale quì [...]

By Izabela on Mar 5, 2012

Yum! This is great - my 14 month old does not eat veggies, but will eat anything remotely resembling a loaf! Genius!! Thank you!

By J on Oct 8, 2011

Continuing the thought of shortcuts...Trader Joes has fantastic pre-cooked and seasoned lentls in the salad section, is it okay to use these instead of cooking lentls? Not sure if they are red, they look black, is there a difference?

By Pam on Sep 22, 2011

:wink: So glad I found this one! I am making it next month. I schedule these things. lol Wil serve with mashed potatoes and tomato gravy or vegan red eye if I can figure it out on my own. lol thanks for thinking it up. lol

By SM on May 1, 2011

HI DK, Still waiting for u r reply for the side dish to go with it. Thank You, SM.

Depends on your taste, but I would say something like a vegetable casserole, mashed potatoes, cauliflower puree, a simple salad... etc etc would go well with it.

By The Iowa Farmer's Wife on Apr 3, 2011

Oh my! This is amazing! I never would have thought of this!!! Definitely saving this and making it soon!

By sm on Mar 24, 2011

Hi Dk, i want to make this dish tommorrow. can i use any vegetables if so can u suggest some. and also can u suggest any side dish for this? waiting for ur reply Thank you.

By Jay on Mar 18, 2011

Hi DK, Could you pls suggest a good side dish for this?

By lubna haque on Mar 7, 2011

hi , can u pla tell me what is TVP... ITS looks realy deffrent i realy wana try it , ty for such a nice nd deffrent recipe, :-|

It stands for Textured Vegetable Protein, similar to Indian Soya Chunks. You can read more abt it here

By chantal lapierre on Feb 10, 2011

I've made this twice now and I love it. Its good the day you make it and its also amazing in sandwiches the next day. My partner in a meat eater and he really likes it, I made mashed potatoes with it, added gravy (vegetarian of course), it was a delicious meal. Thank you for sharing that recipe!

By chantal lapierre on Sep 7, 2010

the recipe looks deliciou and I can't wait to try it, how well does the loaf freeze?

By Jan on Sep 3, 2010

I'm looking for a good soft diet alternative to the nut roast on our hospital menu which is not suitable for people with swallowing problems. This seems as though it could do the trick, but is there a way to make sure the top DOESN'T go crispy? We need to avoid anything crunchy or 'bitty'.

I think reducing the baking time should help. Also close the top of the loaf pan from delaying it from getting crispy. If it does not set like a loaf, you can always refrigerate it for it to set and then just m/w the slices while serving if you want it hot :).

By sowmya on Aug 2, 2010

awesome recipe..would love to try this sometime..

By Mitchelle D'souza on Aug 2, 2010

Hi , wld love to make this receipe , but can i skip the Pinto Beans, . any other option for Pinto Beans

Any other bean like chickpeas will work too

By Tejal on Aug 1, 2010

Such a fabulous recipe! I'm a shortcut person, suppose I want to skip the part of cooking the lentils in an open pan, can I just pressure cook the lentils and the soya chunks together? Will that work?? Thanks for inspirations every day! makes my life easier in the kitchen :)

Yes you can..just make sure that it does not get watery.

By sunita on Jun 23, 2010

i stay in india what does celery commonly known as and can i substitute the pinto beans with regular beans which we get it in winter

Celery is also known as - Hindi : Shalari, Ajmud, Randhuni Bengali : Bandhuri, Chanur Gujarati : Bodiajmoda Malayalam : Ayamodakam Marathi : Ajmoda Punjabi : Kernauli Sanskrit : Ajmoda Tamil : Ajmoda. You can use Kidney beans or any others beans that available --DK

By beetred on Apr 29, 2010

I don't think my first comment worked? Made this last night, it was delicious!

By beetred on Apr 28, 2010

I made this tonight with a few modifications and it was SO good! Thanks for posting the recipe!

By *lynne* on Apr 6, 2010

I don't have a blender/processer... any suggestions on how to "process" the sauteed veggies and beans? Otherwise I'd be jumping up and down in my eagerness to try out this recipe! btw I didn't realise there were red lentils! I've only really ever seen the yellow ones. Something I'll probably not easily find on the shelves of Wal-Mart, eh? :p

Try mashing them with a potato masher. That might help. Red lentils should be common in almost all grocery stores. I am not sure about wal mart though! Never searched for this there !! --DK

By Jay on Feb 25, 2010

Hi Divya, Veg.Meatloaf looks very tempting! Just the recipe what I have been searching for! I have a doubt, though. Is the red lentil used here same as the masoor dal that we get in Indian store?

Yup - its the very same :) --DK

By JK on Feb 3, 2010

What can we use to sub for the soy chunks? I don't eat soy. Tks!

You can easily omit it from the recipe. I simply added it for extra nutrition. You can increase the bread crumbs to substitute it for the same. Or simply skip it. Just make sure that the lentils are mushy and thick. otherwise it wont set like a loaf if the lentils are watery. :) --DK

By Liza on Jan 20, 2010

I plan to make this recipe this weekend. I will sub the soy protein with mushrooms and the bread crumbs with oats. I haven't decided if I will use the cheese yet, --we have a non-cheese eater in my family--he will not even taste it if he knows I put in cheese so I will likely make it without. Do you have any suggestions as to what I could use to soften the dish instead of cheese?

I mostly added cheese for adding to the richness and is per se not really required in the recipe. I think Cheese substitutes like Soyco rice shreds, Smart beat etc...since these melt well in the dishes as compared to other non cheese substitutes which do not melt well. I read somewhere that ppl use Nutritional yeast to substitute for cheese in a recipe since it also gives that creamy and nutty flavor. But I havent personally used any of these substitutes since we enjoy cheese. I think you probably can also heavy cream instead of cheese for giving it the richness. Hope this helps to get your creative juice flowing....-DK

By Preeti on Jan 17, 2010

Hello, The recipe is wonderful.Thanks.........I tried it.......Tasted awesome,but :( was nowhere near to loaf.It was same as the batter consistency no matter how long i baked it.But tasted so heavenly that my family finished it within minutes.I would like to try it again.Please tell me where did i go wrong? Thanks

Hi Preeti, it could have been cos of excess moisture in the lentils. But its fine, you can refrigerate it for couple of hours the next time u r faced with the same problem. It will harden to a loaf easily. You can easily warm it up while serving by - either placing it back in the oven, or m/w it for few minutes. Hope you find this useful --DK

By Srivalli on Jan 6, 2010

Thanks for the entry Dhivi..looks great!

By ganga108 on Dec 28, 2009

What a lovely recipe. Of course, red lentils have heaps of protein in them already, great that you augmented it as well. See wikipedia:

Yes, I agree. As i mentioned I used red lentils to not only give this dish its body but also to help it to have protein enough to compete with meat :) --DK

By CurryLeaf on Dec 7, 2009

PERFECT.I missed this post.I too have been on the lookout of vegloaf and found several with flour .This one takes the cake (oops,the loaf :D) But was it very heavy bcoz of lentils? I cannot wait to try it.Love all your recipes

LOL - Thanks Dear :) It was heavy in the sense of being v filling. But the loaf was not heavy or dense - it was a moist loaf --DK

By peanutts on Dec 6, 2009

Now that looks good!!!!

By musical on Dec 5, 2009

Very interesting and delicious idea, DK!

By Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets on Dec 4, 2009

I love your description of the taste and also the lovely colors from the photos. What a wonderful blogger you are for being so responsive to your reader's requests 8).

Thank you for your kind words. Makes my day --DK

By Pavani on Dec 4, 2009

Very interesting and unique dish. Great work DK.

By Priya on Dec 4, 2009

Such a unique and innovative loaf..looks fantastic!

By vidhya on Dec 4, 2009

wow.. vegetarian meat loaf looks perfect Dhivya..