Baked Lentil and Couscous Loaf: How to Make a Healthy and Delicious Vegetarian Main Course

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How many families make New Year’s Resolutions each year? How many of us stick to them?

One of our many resolutions is to eat more healthily, to choose, and use, a wider variety of vegetables, pulses and other foods to improve our energy levels, and hopefully to reduce our weight! This recipe for a baked lentil and couscous loaf is one of our favourites. When couscous and lentils come together the result is a tasty and nourishing dish that is cheap, quick and easy to prepare.

Couscous and Lentil History

There is much debate over the origins of couscous. Some food historians say couscous can be traced to East Africa, others claim it came from China. Wherever it came from it is now very popular in almost every part of the world. Couscous, which looks a bit like polenta, is usually made from semolina flour, although it can also be made from barley, millet and other grains. You can do this with a specialized grain mill, or general food mill.

Lentils have a history dating back some 12,000 years, and evidence of their use has been found in Ancient Greece, Syria, Palestine, Turkey and many other parts of the Middle East. The Book of Genesis tells us that Esau relinquished his birthright for a bowl of lentils and a loaf of bread.

Lentils are cheap, extremely nutritious, and possibly the most flavorsome of all the legumes. More than fifty types of lentil are grown for food and they come in a variety of colours, the most common being green, brown and red. They are popular with vegetarians and have been used as a substitute for meat for many years.

Ingredients for Lentil and Couscous Loaf – Serves Four

  • Vegetable oil for cooking
  • 1 large onion – peeled and finely chopped (Here are some great onion choppers for you!)
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed (Here are some great garlic presses for you!)
  • 1 large carrot – chopped into very small pieces
  • 1 stick of celery – finely chopped into small pieces
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup of red lentils – washed well in several changes of water
  • 1 cup of couscous
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • One tablespoon mild paprika

How to Prepare Lentil and Couscous Loaf

  1. Preheat the oven to 180° C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan, add the chopped onions and garlic.
  3. When the onions start to soften add the chopped carrot, celery and peppers. Cook on a low heat until the vegetables start to soften.
  4. Add the lentils, couscous and paprika, and stir well.
  5. Cook gently and stir constantly for about one minute.
  6. Add the vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, cover, and cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Don’t worry if the lentils don’t seem fully cooked at this point.
  7. Place the mixture into a greased baking tin, cover and bake for approximately 1 hour in a moderate oven.
  8. Let the loaf stand for 10 minutes and slice into squares.

Serve immediately on warm plates. Lentil and Couscous Loaf goes well with Spiced Red Cabbage, Vegetable Terrine, or any vegetable you choose.

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