Monday, July 22, 2013

Sunday Dinner: Multitasking Slow Cooker (updated with recipe)

People, it is hot here and my husband is manic on the subject of no cooking heat in the house.  I use my slow cooker pretty often in the summer and I usually set it outside.  That pleases him, as does cooking outside on the new grill.

Sunday, we had a meatless meatloaf which is a lentil loaf which really needs a better name.  It sounds like we are being all 70s alternative or like we miss meat so much we are trying our best to imitate it, but that's just not the case.  At my house, this is just a delicious way to eat lentils and it just begs for traditional meatloaf sides.

The menu:
the loaf
baked potatoes
cucumber salad with basil
espresso granita with whipped cream (I used strong decaf coffee and decreased the sugar by 1 Tbsp.)

I put the oiled potatoes in the bottom of my 6-quart oval slow cooker.  I turned them on high around 7am.  Before we left for church at 9am, I turned the cooker to low and added the lentil loaf (mixed up the day before) in a 9x5 metal loaf pan, sitting directly on top of the single layer of potatoes.  Clapped the lid on. 

It worked so well!  When we got home from church, I put together a cucumber salad. Delicious, easy Sunday dinner and no cooking heat in the house - plenty of other heat, though. . .

Lentil Loaf (originally from a cookbook called The Daily Bean)

Combine and mix well:
1-2 cups tasty cheese such as cheddar with a bit of smoked cheddar if you like
2 cups cooked lentils
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or triple the amount of fresh thyme)
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 Tbsp. soft butter (optional)

Place in greased loaf pan and smooth top.  Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes or covered in a slow cooker on low for 2-3 hours.  You can put the loaf pan in the dry slow cooker and if there are no potatoes beneath, keep it off the bottom with a metal jar lid or small trivet.

If you have to cook your lentils just for this recipe, use a scant cup with a scant 2 cups water.  Cook covered for about an hour, until water is absorbed and lentils are soft.  Or you can cook a big pot and freeze the cooked lentils in 2 cup amounts.

Serve this loaf as you would traditional meatloaf; the wheat in the breadcrumbs in combination with the legumes (lentils) is a complete protein and there is protein from the cheese and egg.  Cold slices of leftover loaf are excellent in sandwiches with ketchup and sprouts.


jenny_o said...

This sounds really good - do you have a particular lentil loaf recipe you like to use? I never knew you could use a pan inside the cooker. How convenient! And what a good idea to use the slow cooker outside.

I hope your heat breaks soon.

beth said...

I'm also wondering about a recipe for the lentil loaf. Sounds perfect.

sara said...

What a great idea! I am definitely going to try this.

I think I'd like lentil loaf, but not meatless meatloaf - it's all in the name. I am a child of the 70s and still shudder remembering being tricked into lentil meatballs and burgers, and tofu-filled milkshakes. It wasn't the ingredients, it was trying to pass them off as something they weren't that made me gag. My mom and I laugh about it now, but it was contentious at the time. :)

Sew Blessed Maw said...

What a yummy lunch.. and how nice for it to be cooked and ready to eat, when you get in from church..

jenny_o said...

Thank you for the recipe, Margo, and also the tip about cooking lentils in quantity to freeze.

I have bought lentils several times and I'm embarrassed to say they were put in the compost each time because they sat in the cupboard for YEARS. This time I will use them. Pinky swear.

Rachel said...

is there really no water in the loaf? how do the lentils cook? It sounds fantastic, and I love the double-layer crockpot :)

Margo said...

Rachel, the lentils are already cooked before they go in the loaf.

Polly said...

you are so clever. I don't do any outside-the-kitchen cooking (sometimes my husband does grill) so I admire the concept of it, especially in hot summertime.

And lentil loaf sounds like the kind of thing *I* would love. (Not sure about the rest of the people here, but they surprise me daily with what they do embrace!)

Beth in the City said...

I went to a vegetarian cooking class once and I liked the true vegetable recipes and hated the mock meat ones. Thus the idea of a lentil loaf appeals to me, but a lentil meat loaf does not! :) What a great way to cook in the summer.

Anonymous said...

Hi, this sounds lovely (I've got it in to try out at the minute) but am confused by the sandwich idea - what are "sprouts" in this context? Over here it would mean Brussels sprouts, like a small cabbage?

Margo said...

Anon, in this case, "sprouts" refers to sprouted mung beans or alfalfa seeds or what have you. Could use lettuce instead, too. Hope you like the meatloaf!


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