Cranberry Orange Lentil Quinoa Loaf.

With each passing day, Cullen gets a little bit older, a little more alert, and a lot more fun.  With that though also comes extra demands, and less and less time available for me to do much other than shake toys, bounce in front of mirrors, and change diapers.  I do my best to follow my own healthy tips, but I often have to rely on dinners to be my most nutritious meal of the day. 

A lot of times I rely on those dinners to be good sources of protein and vegetables, and this recipe provides both.

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Absolutely packed with flavor, this “loaf” of lentils and quinoa makes for  delicious entrée to serve to your family or friends.  Pair with green beans and rosemary mashed potatoes, for a hearty, filling, and healthy meal. 

Cranberry Orange Lentil Quinoa Loaf

by Emily Malone

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (4-6 servings)

  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons peach (or other fruit) salsa

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Then start by combining quinoa, lentils, vegetable broth, and orange juice in either a sauce pot or rice cooker. Cook until all liquid is absorbed, and the lentils and quinoa are cooked.

Meanwhile, finely dice the mirepoix vegetables – celery, carrots, and onions. Dice them evenly and as small as you can, because pieces too big will make it harder for the loaf to bind together. Sauté the vegetables in a skillet over medium high heat until they begin to soften.

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In a small dish, combine chia seeds and 1/2 cup water, and let sit for five minutes until thickened. It should be gel-like after a few minutes, and will serve as an egg replacement.  (If you prefer, you can also sub in 3 eggs.)

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Once the vegetables are cooked, add the cranberries, sunflower seeds, and balsamic vinegar to the pan. Remove from heat.

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Stir in the cooked lentils and quinoa once they are ready, along with the chia seed mixture, and then combine and season the whole pan.

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Press firmly into a greased loaf pan, making sure to push mixture flush against all the edges.

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Spoon salsa over the top to form a coating. I used peach salsa from Trader Joe’s, but any fruity salsa would be tasty.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes. Allow loaf to cool slightly before cutting carefully.

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Slice and serve!  Casey and I both agreed that this was incredible. The subtle fruity hints of flavor add a great balance to a savory entrée.

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The combination of lentils and quinoa make this fairly high in protein, so it’s great for vegetarians or vegans who are looking for a break from their regular staples.  I will admit that it didn’t hold together quite as well as I had hoped, but that is often the challenge with vegan cooking. Still, the flavor alone is enough to make you not care of it crumbles here and there.

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This is one of those great meals that not only tastes great, it looks wonderful on the plate. Vibrant colors, nuts and seeds, bite sized vegetables – this recipe has it all.

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I’m planning on making another loaf of this to take to one of my friends who recently had a baby.  It’s good both hot and cold, and won’t last long.  Casey and I ate the whole loaf ourselves in one night!

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Enjoy!

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