Lentil Bake

At home I try my best to incorporate vegetarian meals into our diets, I feel my kids are far too carnivorous when it comes to food and it can prove a mission to get them to eat dishes made entirely from vegetables or pulses. This was one of the reasons I developed this Lentil Bake, using many store cupboard ingredients and one or two more unusual ones, in a bid to get them enjoying wholly vegetarian meals. Thankfully it is one of several vegetarian meals my children happily eat without complaint.

As winter draws closer, it’s the perfect season to enjoy hearty and warming oven foods such as pies, stews and roasts. In our family we love anything that comes piping hot out of the oven, perhaps that’s the reason why my kids are so keen on this dish. Although the base is made entirely from red split lentils, the bake is quite delicious, warm and filling.

Red split lentils are economical and are a great source of protein, which makes this a perfect mid-week budget friendly dish. I also love the fact that when I want to cook this dish I don’t have to plan too far ahead of time; I’ve often decided late in the afternoon that I want to make this for dinner and have soaked the lentils 30 minutes to an hour beforehand, which is much quicker than trying to defrost a bag of meat or chicken.

The breadcrumb topping was something I came up with because we get through far too many loaves of bread in one week, and not everyone appreciates the end slices, so this was a great way to use them up. The only problem with using breadcrumbs for the topping is that the topping doesn’t really ‘hold’ itself together as there is nothing to bind it with. We don’t mind so much, but if you do feel for presentation purposes you would like for it to hold its shape, you can always add a handful of cheese to the breadcrumbs and mix together before sprinkling over the filling.

Talking about fillings, I should probably point out that although this is a vegetarian/vegan dish, one of the ingredients I personally choose to use in this recipe isn’t. Some of you may think adding fish sauce to this recipe is very odd, but having tried it in the dish I can actually say that it adds a lot of flavour to an otherwise bland dish. The soy sauce adds flavour as does the tomato puree, but I do like adding the fish sauce also, however if you happen to be vegetarian or vegan, then I would suggest skipping the fish sauce, the other ingredients work well without it.

As this recipe uses lots of ingredients that contain salt ie. soy sauce, fish sauce, stock cubes, I try to minimise the use of salt at the very beginning when softening my onions. You do need to add a pinch of salt to the onions to kick start the softening process, but do be mindful of this from the outset. If you wanted to make this more interesting you could add some vegetables to the lentils; how about adding sliced mushrooms or even diced peppers? There are so many combinations you could try! I’m hoping my Lentil Bake becomes a firm vegetarian favourite in your household as it has mine.

Serves 6

You will need: for Lentil Bake

2 cups of red split lentil (approximately 350g)
1 large onion
3 tbsp of oil
salt (add carefully, as many of the other ingredients contain a lot of salt already)
2 – 3 thick slices of bread
1 tsp mixed herbs
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp fish sauce (exclude this if you are vegetarian/vegan)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 vegetarian oxo cubes (you may use an alternative stock cube if you prefer)
water (as needed)

Method:

Lentil Bake

Start by soaking 2 cups of red split lentils in cold water and allow them to fully expand (takes at least 1 hour).

Peel and dice one large onion.

Lentil Bake

In a saucepan heat 3 tbsp of oil and add the diced onion with a pinch of salt, I’m using about 1/4 of a teaspoon here. Be careful not to add too much at this stage as many of the other ingredients also contain salt.

Cover the saucepan and allow the onions to soften over a low – medium flame.

Preheat the oven on to gas mark 4 (180 degrees Celsius for electric).

Next blitz the slices of bread in a food processor; tear the bread into large chunks, add 1 tsp of mixed herbs and a pinch of salt and process….

….until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (as in top left photo).

Spread the breadcrumbs onto a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 16 minutes, remember to rotate the breadcrumbs half way through this cooking time to help them brown evenly.

By now the onions will be soft, wash the lentils until the water runs clear and add to the pan along with….

….2 tbsp of fish sauce (leave this out if you are vegetarian or vegan), 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of tomato puree and crumble in 2 vegetarian oxo cubes. Most of these ingredients contain salt so you do need to be mindful of how much you salt you start off with.

Add enough cold water to cover the lentils.

Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are soft and cooked through.

Remember to check on those breadcrumbs in the oven, mix them to get them evenly browned!

Once the breadcrumbs are done, they should look a light toasted colour and should be crisp to the touch. Remember the topping to this dish will be crumbly and won’t bind together unless you mix it with some extra ingredients, I don’t mind this so I leave it plain, but you could always add a handful of grated cheese to make the topping bind together.

Check the lentils, test for salt at this point, adjust if necessary.

If the lentils look dry and are not cooked add more water to help cook them through.

If they are soft and cooked (top right photo) you can transfer the lentils to an ovenproof dish, the dish I am using is approximately 20cm by 30cm. Spread the lentil filling evenly using the back of a spoon.

Lentil Bake

Top the lentil filling with all of the breadcrumbs. Remember the topping is crumbly, if you want it to hold its shape together after serving, add a handful of grated cheese to the breadcrumbs and mix before sprinkling it over the top.

Bake this in the oven at gas mark 6 (200 degrees for electric) for around 20 – 25 minutes until the top of the lentil bake is a lovely golden colour.

Lentil Bake

Serve with your favourite sides, we enjoyed our Lentil Bake with herby hassleback potatoes and plenty of garlic and chive sour cream, it was a vegetarian delight!

Lentil Bake

What the inside of the pie looks like after baking

Lentil Bake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of red split lentil (approximately 350g)
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 tbsp of oil
  • salt (add carefully, as many of the other ingredients contain a lot of salt already)
  • 2 - 3 thick slices of bread
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (exclude this if you are vegetarian/vegan)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 vegetarian oxo cubes (you may use an alternative stock cube if you prefer)
  • water (as needed)
Method
  1. Start by soaking 2 cups of red split lentils in cold water and allow them to fully expand (takes at least 1 hour).
  2. Peel and dice one large onion.
  3. In a saucepan heat 3 tbsp of oil and add the diced onion with a pinch of salt, I'm using about ¼ of a teaspoon here. Be careful not to add too much at this stage as many of the other ingredients also contain salt.
  4. Cover the saucepan and allow the onions to soften over a low - medium flame.
  5. Preheat the oven on to gas mark 4 (180 degrees Celsius for electric).
  6. Next blitz the slices of bread in a food processor; tear the bread into large chunks, add 1 tsp of mixed herbs and a pinch of salt and process....
  7. until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (as in top left photo).
  8. Spread the breadcrumbs onto a large baking tray and bake in the oven for 16 minutes, remember to rotate the breadcrumbs half way through this cooking time to help them brown evenly.
  9. By now the onions will be soft, wash the lentils until the water runs clear and add to the pan along with....
  10. tbsp of fish sauce (leave this out if you are vegetarian or vegan), 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of tomato puree and crumble in 2 vegetarian oxo cubes. Most of these ingredients contain salt so you do need to be mindful of how much you salt you start off with.
  11. Add enough cold water to cover the lentils.
  12. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are soft and cooked through.
  13. Remember to check on those breadcrumbs in the oven, mix them to get them evenly browned!
  14. Once the breadcrumbs are done, they should look a light toasted colour and should be crisp to the touch. Remember the topping to this dish will be crumbly and won't bind together unless you mix it with some extra ingredients, I don't mind this so I leave it plain, but you could always add a handful of grated cheese to make the topping bind together.
  15. Check the lentils, test for salt at this point, adjust if necessary.
  16. If the lentils look dry and are not cooked add more water to help cook them through.
  17. If they are soft and cooked (top right photo) you can transfer the lentils to an ovenproof dish, the dish I am using is approximately 20cm by 30cm. Spread the lentil filling evenly using the back of a spoon.
  18. Top the lentil filling with all of the breadcrumbs. Remember the topping is crumbly, if you want it to hold its shape together after serving, add a handful of grated cheese to the breadcrumbs and mix before sprinkling it over the top.
  19. Bake this in the oven at gas mark 6 (200 degrees for electric) for around 20 - 25 minutes until the top of the lentil bake is a lovely golden colour.
  20. Serve with your favourite sides, we enjoyed our Lentil Bake with herby hassleback potatoes and plenty of garlic and chive sour cream, it was a vegetarian delight!

If you like the recipe please share with friends and family, also follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Questions? Leave a comment below or message me on Facebook.

 

 

share post to:

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: