Spiced Lentil Spinach Walnut Loaf

The Dubai marathon is done and dusted. For three months, everything in my life was designed and scheduled around the training and the actual race. Now that it's over, I need something else to do. I was on cloud 9 for about a week after the race. By now, I have slowly descended back down to planet earth. I am suffering a little from marathon blues (e.g. feeling lost in the sudden absence of a goal of such magnitude).

Hopefully, I can redirect my energy and creativity to this blog which admittedly got sidelined during the past few months. I want to explore more exciting dinner recipes, preferably vegan ones. I have already dug out a few vegan recipes from the past that I reposted on my FB page. For those of you who have missed them, here they are again. Tried, tested, and highly recommended:
While I have no intention yet to become a complete vegan, I have several reasons for an increase of vegan foods in my diet. I am currently reading a lot about the relation of animal fats and animal proteins and the occurrence of cancer, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases. Someone in my close family has just lost the battle against cancer at an far too early age.
And on a lighter note, I experience far too many incidents of light to medium food poisoning when I eat out or order in foods that contain animal products. For some reason, this only happens to me here in Dubai, and is not limited to dodgy take-away places around the corner. I got sick once after eating out in a 5-star hotel restaurant. Understandably, it has spoiled my appetite for restaurant foods. As a result, I need to cook more at home. Not a bad thing, actually. I would be in control of what goes into my food and what I eat. I could try out lots of new recipes. And I could post the good ones here on my blog.

Lentil loaves have been on my to-do list for a long time. However, the regular recipes didn't seem to contain many spices. Instead, they would have a ketchup-based or BBQ sauce smeared on top that didn't really tickle my fancy. My version of a lentil loaf brings together the earthy flavors of lentils, the crunch of walnuts, the goodness of the spinach and a whole range of Indian spices that bring strong flavor and anti-inflammatory properties. Serve with a fresh salad or some strained yogurt for freshness. A thorough winner. Enjoy.

(Print Recipe)

1 cup green lentils, uncooked (or 2 1/2 cups cooked green lentils)
1 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons ground flax seed
6 tablespoons boiling water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

2 red onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium carrot, coarsely grated
2 cups spinach leaves, tough stems removed and chopped

1/4 cup quinoa flakes

Yields 1 loaf/Serves 8
Cook the green lentils with 4 cups of slightly salted water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a dry pan over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Shake the pan regularly to avoid burning. Let cool before chopping finely. Set aside.
Combine flax seed and boiling water and stir until well combined. Let stand for at least 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. When hot, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook until they start popping. Add onions and garlic and cook until onion are softened. Stir in grated carrots and all other spices and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add spinach leaves and cook until wilted.

In a food processor, blend half the cooked lentils and the flax seed mixture until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. With a spoon, stir in the other lentils, the carrot spinach mixture, chopped walnuts and quinoa flakes.

Preheat oven to 180C/375F. Grease or line loaf tin.
Transfer mixture to prepared loaf tin. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool a little on wire rack before serving. Serve with a fresh salad and/or a yogurt dip (find recipe here).

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