This vegan lentil loaf has a robust bean (lentil) flavor with seasonings that complement it. It doesn't fall apart, isn't too mushy or too dry, and doesn't lack textural variety. It's perfect for entertaining over the holidays, or to enjoy for a weeknight dinner.
Add the lentils into a medium saucepan, cover them with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, season with salt, and cook the lentils until tender, 20-30 minutes.
Heat the olive in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, and saute them until translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms, followed by a pinch of sea salt, and saute the mushrooms until they have softened and reduced in size, about 5 minutes. Then add the celery, bell pepper, and thyme. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the walnuts into a food processor and pulse a few times until a loose meal forms. Add the lentils and mushroom-vegetable mixture, and pulse to combine. Be careful not to purée the mixture.
Add the flaxseed meal, tomato paste, marjoram, salt, and black pepper. Stir until a loose dough forms. Add the breadcrumbs in stages, until a thick dough forms. If the mixture is too wet, add more breadcrumbs. If it's too dry, pulse it a little more.
Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan, spread, and press into an even layer. Brush the top with a little oil to help the loaf retain moisture.
Bake at 350°F/175°C uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and slightly dry to the touch. Remove from oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes in the pan. Then gently remove and carefully slice and serve.
Store leftover lentil loaf, covered, in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. For longer term storage, freeze in an air-tight container for 1 month.
*2/3 cup uncooked brown lentils is ~ 2 cups cooked.
*Soak the lentils in cold water for a few hours so they soften up and are easier to digest. When the lentils are soaked, drain the water, rinse the lentils thoroughly, and use as instructed.
**The amount of breadcrumbs depends on how moist/dry your lentils are. I used just shy of 1/2 cup.