I wasn't sure what to expect from this. We all like lentils and Giada has always delivered on her recipes. I have been holding off on trying this also, since the long list of ingredients seems like it might be an ordeal to make. It was delicious and surprisingly easy. I did use 2 oz more spinach since it came in 6 oz bags, and I'm sure I used a bit more cheese. My veggie broth was unsalted, so I needed a bit more salt too. I couldn't fit it all in one pan, so I split them between 2 pans. It was really, really good and really filling. It was a bit more liquid than I expected from "meatloaf" but it so didn't matter. Even the boy, who had been snacking while waiting for dinner to be done, ate heartily. I think this is a must for any vegetarian and a should have for everyone else. I really liked the raw tomato in the sauce too. I'm glad I skipped making a salad; it really filled you up!
Veronica's Veggie Meatloaf With Checca Sauce
1 pt cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups,or 12 ounces), halved
3 scallions (white and pale green parts only),coarsely chopped
3 ea garlic,chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
3 T olive oil
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
3/4 c lentils (about 5 ounces)
3 c reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 c uncooked short-grain brown rice,rinsed well
1/2 c finely chopped white onion
1/2 c shredded carrots
1 celery rib,sliced
1/2 c frozen corn kernels
2 T butter,divided
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 c cubed whole milk mozzarella cheese,divided (about 8 -ounces total)
2 eggs,lightly beaten
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese,plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 c chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 t salt
1 t freshly ground black pepper
For the Checca Sauce: Combine the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic,
basil, and oil in a processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are
coarsely chopped, being careful not to puree. Set aside. Season the
sauce with salt and pepper.
For the Lentil Loaf: Place the lentils in a large saucepan of cold
water. Bring the water just to a boil over high heat. Carefully drain
the boiling water and rinse the lentils. Meanwhile, in a heavy large
saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and
return the liquid to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover the rice,
and gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils,
onion, carrot, and celery. Cover and continue cooking without stirring
until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about
30 minutes longer. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the corn over the rice
and lentils and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff
the rice with a fork. Cover and let stand for 5 more minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the butter over a 10 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan.
In a heavy, large skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until the
spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze the excess liquid
from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a work surface and coarsely
In a large bowl, gently mix the lentil mixture, spinach, 1 cup of the
mozzarella cheese, eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, basil, salt,
pepper, and half of the checca sauce. Spoon the mixture into the
prepared pan. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a row over the lentil
mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2
tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Dot the top with the remaining 1
tablespoon of butter.
Bake uncovered until the loaf is heated through and the topping is
melted and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Slice the loaf into 2-inch slices, arrange on plates, and serve with
the remaining checca sauce.