For the first time in my life, I face Thanksgiving as a vegetarian. The turkey drenched in gravy that I’ve always loved will be absent from my plate.
I’m fine with that emotionally. From a practical standpoint, however, I had to come up with a tasty vegetarian main dish alternative that even will pique the interest of the meat-eaters at the table.
Vegetarian Main Dish Option
The challenge was on. It took a bit of research and experimenting to get the taste just right. What emerged from my kitchen is the perfect marriage of savory, nutty flavors of lentils and mushrooms, sealed with just the right blend of seasonal herbs and spices.
In place of gravy, I strayed a bit outside the box and drizzled the dish with a sweet, smoky organic barbecue sauce. The flavors really pop, alternating between savory, tangy and smoky. And the texture of these mini loaf cups is perfect. They don’t crumble or break apart, and they hold moisture without being mushy.
Easy to Make
This recipe also gets a high score for ease of preparation. The best approach is to chop up the veggies, pre-cook the brown rice and lentils and then go into full-on assembly mode. I baked the mixture as individual muffins. However, it would be just as easy to tuck the mixture into mini loaf pans or a single loaf pan and bake.
Definitely a vegetarian, gluten-free winner. I was so excited, in fact, that I texted a photo of the finished loaves to my Pinterest-passionate daughter who gave them a visual thumbs-up.
Nutrition info: (1 muffin cup) 120 calories, 6 grams protein, 19 grams carbs, 3 grams fat, 38 mg cholesterol, 133 mg sodium, 239 mg potassium.
A delicious blend of savory seasonal flavors in a hearty muffin.
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
- 1 cup fresh leeks finely sliced, chopped
- 1 cup carrots diced
- 2 cups green or red lentils cooked
- 3 cups mushrooms finely diced
- 1 cup brown rice cooked
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs regular or gluten-free
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, sage and thyme each
- 1 tsp sea salt and black pepper each
- 1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a large sauté pan. Toss in leaks and sauté until they begin to soften.
Add mushrooms and continue to cook until for another 5 minutes.
Stir in carrots, herbs, salt & pepper and cook only a few minutes until carrots are tender.
Remove from heat, transfer to a large mixing bowl and stir in brown rice and lentils.
Separate ½ the mixture and place into a blender or food processor. Crack in 2 large eggs and pulse until smooth. Scrape down the sides to ensure the entire mixture is blended.
Return blended mixture to bowl, add breadcrumbs and stir all ingredients together.
Coat a muffin tin or loaf pan with oil and divide mixture evenly. Tamp down gently and bake for 15 minutes.
When muffins are done, allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pan and drizzle with remaining barbecue sauce. Feel free to use more sauce if needed. Another vegetarian option for topping is a quick and easy homemade onion gravy.
And here’s a how-to video to make it super simple. Enjoy!