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My first veggie loaf...

(post, Tiffanie McCoy)

I've always been nervous about the whole concept of a vegan loaf -- they always sounded dry and composed of weird ingredients. So in my last three years of vegan life I've stayed with my stews and soups and casseroles, quite happily.

Then I bought the Clean Food cookbook a few months ago, and I've been working through many of the recipes (so far, all fantastic). I came across the Lentil Apple Walnut Loaf and was intrigued -- it actually sounded tasty and while the combination of ingredients was a little odd, I could imagine eating them and they all lived in my kitchen.

I had a special goals-setting dinner set up with a friend who is vegetarian, so I decided to make the loaf and make some garlicky swiss chard and roasted potatoes on the side, in case the entree failed. Putting together the loaf was pretty simple, even for a mom with two sick toddlers underfoot. I used my rice cooker to cook the lentils, a first for me. Grating apples is rather fun, since they reduce so quickly. I used panko bread crumbs instead of normal ones, but that worked out fine. The sauce on top was especially interesting to me -- I used to love the meatloaf from the Barefoot Contessa, with the baked ketchup on top. This sauce was a mixture of ketchup, maple syrup, and apple butter, with some arrowroot powder as a starch. It smelled great!

The loaf, once baked, was very moist and soft (once cooled in the fridge, the leftovers were stiff enough to slice). It was a big hit with the adults, though the kids were not very interested. I'll keep working on them -- I thought the raisins would be the gateway ingredient. :-) 

While eating seconds, we tried to work out some improvements to the recipe. We're thinking of adding some diced dried apricots instead of raisins, and apricot jam instead of apple butter. Dried cherries might also be interesting, though honestly I love the raisins. 

Now I shall have to search for new veggie loaf recipes, they seem like an easy way to get protein and variety into my diet. Maybe I should make mini-loafs for the kids?