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Veggie Loaf with Checca Sauce

December 22, 2009

veggie loaf

If I said lentil loaf to you, would you lose interest?  I thought so.  If I told you to imagine a really flavorful lentil and rice stew made very very thick that happened to be in loaf form, would that win you back?  Yeah, probably some of you.  If you’re feeling up for adventure and have some time, you should make this veggie loaf.  It’s made of lentils, brown rice, vegetables and flavored with basil, Parmesan and a fresh checca sauce, which is a chopped tomato, garlic, basil and fresh mozzarella sauce.  I served this with spicy braised escarole, which I will post tomorrow, and garlic bread.  It made a really hearty filling meal.  This recipe was adapted from Giada DeLaurentis and serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

For the checca Sauce:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves

1 ball fresh Mozzarella (about 8 oz), cut into small dice

2 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

For the veggie loaf:

3/4 c brown lentils

3 c vegetable broth

1 c brown rice

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

1 stalk celery, thinly sliced

1 box mushrooms, roughly chopped

10 oz bag fresh spinach leaves

1 1/2 c shredded mozzarella

2 T butter

1/4 c plus 2 T grated Parmesan

1/3 c chopped fresh basil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tomato, cut into 1/4″ slices

Directions:

To make the checca sauce, place cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped (you want a small dice like a salsa).  Stir in the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.  Remove half of tomato mixture to another bowl (this will go in the veggie loaf).  Add diced mozzarella to other half of mixture and set aside (this will be for a topping).

Meanwhile, place the lentils in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil and immediately drain.  Set aside.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil and add the rice.  Cook, covered, at a simmer for 10 minutes without stirring.  Then add the lentils, carrots and celery and stir to combine.  Bring back to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, saute mushrooms with salt and pepper until cooked, about 5 minutes.  When lentils are done, turn off heat and let them stand, covered, for 5 minutes.   Sprinkle mushrooms over the top and recover and allow to stand for 5 more minutes.  Add spinach to the skillet the mushrooms were in and cook, stirring, over medium heat until spinach is wilted.  Let cool and squeeze excess water out, then chop and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 10″ x 4 1/2″ x 3″ loaf pan with 1 T of the butter.

In a large bowl, gently mix together the lentils and mushrooms, spinach, the half of the checca sauce without cheese, 1 c grated mozzarella, 1/4 grated Parmesan, basil and eggs.  (I didn’t need any more salt or pepper, but check by tasting the  mixture before you add the eggs).   Spoon  mixture into prepared loaf pan.  Arrange sliced tomatoes over the top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 c shredded mozzarella and 2 T Parmesan.  Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, until cheese is brown and bubbling.  Remove from oven and let sit 15 minutes before slicing and serving.  Serve with remaining checca sauce on the side.

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