Savory Lentil Loaf with roast potatoes and green beans
The cold, rainy weather and quiet Sundays at home with the family have reminded me how much I enjoyed the Sunday dinners with my grandparents, with my grandmother's wonderful English cooking. My grandmother lived in the town she grew up in for most of her life and, being of the sweetest disposition, got the best that was to be had from the butcher, the greengrocer (who was mobile and stopped at her house twice a week), and the baker. My grandfather, long retired, grew his own vegetables in their garden and tomatoes in his greenhouse. Every meal there was special.
Being a vegetarian, its a challenge to come up with a worthy substitute for the roast beef and roast lamb that were the centerpiece of those Sunday dinners. The Cheese and Lentil Gratin recipe I've previously posted has stood alone as the main of similar meals, but I want to find others. Tonight I tried a new recipe from Rose Elliot's excellent book Complete Vegetarian Cuisine called Savory Lentil Loaf. The recipe is reminiscent of the Cheese and Lentil Gratin in that it combines red lentils and cheddar cheese, but instead of carrots, it calls for mushrooms and fresh breadcrumbs, and a much larger ratio of lentils to the water, cheese, and eggs. The recipe suggests serving the loaf with roast potatoes, a green vegetable, and apple sauce.
The result was disappointing. The loaf was dry and had a mealy texture that reminded me of an awful nut loaf I was once served at Christmas. The flavour of the mushrooms, onion, and the two cups of cheese were undiscernible. Alas, the tablespoon of lemon juice, which had me a little nervous as I added it, was the only flavor that really stood out and seemed completely out of place. Hubby didn't like it but thought the apple sauce helped. I found it much too sweet and used ketchup on mine.
Happily, the roast potatoes were the best I've made to date - just like my mum's. Here's the recipe for the roast potatoes:
Preheat the oven to 400 and put an ovenproof dish with olive oil into the oven to heat. Peel the potatoes and cut into six or eight pieces. Parboil the potatoes in salty water for about 8 minutes, so they are just starting to be tender. Drain and add the potatoes to the heated oil - make sure all the potatoes are coated. Roast in the oven for approx. 1 hour, stirring several times to make sure they cook evenly. The potatoes should have crisp browned edges when done. If this doesn't happen after an hour, turn up the heat to finish them. When done the potatoes should be soft inside and crispy outside.