My Mom’s Vegetable “Meatloaf” with Checca Sauce

ingredients

Serves 6
 
Sauce
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halvedcherry tomato(es)1
3 scallions, white and pale green parts only, coarsely choppedscallion(s)3
3 garlic cloves, choppedgarlic clove3
8 fresh basil leavesbasil leaves8
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilextra-virgin olive oil3
1 teaspoon kosher saltkosher salt1
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepperfreshly ground black pepper½
Lentil Loaf
Vegetable oil cooking sprayvegetable oil1
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilextra-virgin olive oil2
1 small white onion, finely choppedonion(s), small1
1 medium carrot, shredded carrots1
1 celery stalk, thinly slicedcelery1
10 ounces fresh baby spinach (about 4 cups)baby spinach10
1 (15-ounce) can cooked lentils, rinsed and drainedgreen lentils1
2 cups cooked brown ricebrown rice2
1 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheesemozzarella cheese1
½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawedfrozen corn½
⅓ cup chopped fresh basil leavesbasil leaves
2 large eggs, lightly beatenegg(s)2
1 teaspoon kosher saltkosher salt1
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepperfreshly ground black pepper½
1 large egg white, lightly beatenegg(s)1
2 medium tomatoes, slicedtomato(es)2

instructions

 
Sauce
Combine the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic, basil, oil, salt, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are coarsely chopped, being careful not to puree them. Transfer the sauce to a bowl.
Lentil Loaf
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 10 x 4 1/2-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly. Reserve the skillet.

In the same large skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Add to the onion mixture.

Add the lentils, brown rice, ¾ cup of the mozzarella, the corn, basil, beaten eggs, salt, pepper, and 3/4 cup of the sauce to the cooled onion mixture. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in 2 rows over the lentil mixture, covering the top completely. Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup mozzarella and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Bake until the loaf is heated through and the topping is melted and starting to brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice the loaf (still in the pan) into 1-inch slices, arrange on plates, and serve with the remaining sauce.

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