Yay! We’ve finally started getting some Fall type weather. I know a lot of folks have been digging that extended summer kind of thing that we’ve had going on, but I’m ready for some colder temperatures. And as that mercury falls, I’ve got a great comfort food recipe to share with you today: Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes! Yum, yum, yum! This delicious Meatless Monday favorite of ours will be loved by vegetarians and carnivores alike, I guarantee. And you did hear me right – there is not one shred of meat in this dish – it is a vegetarian meatloaf. But that doesn’t mean it is lacking in taste. I do promise, you will not miss the meat one little bit once you take a bite of these savory little gems.
This recipe is so versatile. You can bake it in cupcake tins or if you prefer in a loaf pan for a more traditional meatloaf appearance. I prefer the cupcake tins because of the cute factor. Kids will certainly find them more appealing and will have no idea how many veggies they are scarfing down. The cupcake version also has portability and ease going for it. Having a single serving all ready to go, no fooling around with trying to cut even slices in a loaf works out great for me. But really we love these little cupcake shapes because of the extra crunchy edges you get from baking them in cupcake tins.
You can also prepare these cupcakes with or without the mashed potato “frosting”. Kids will definitely prefer the potatoes piped onto the top so that it actually looks more cupcake like. When I make this dish though, I usually prepare them “naked” topped only with the arrabiata sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. I serve the mashed potatoes on the side. These cupcakes are fantastic warm from the oven, but I’ve also enjoyed them the next day cold right out of the fridge. They are high in protein and fiber. I’m telling you, you can not go wrong with this recipe!
Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes
Recipe inspired by: Really Good Vegetarian Meatloaf (Really!)
- 2 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup lentils
- 2 leeks, sliced – white and light green parts only
- 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup quick cooking oats
- 3/4 cup grated mozzerella cheese
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 6 ounces of spaghetti sauce + a bit more for spooning over the top (we use a spicy arrabiatta sauce)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we love spicy food – but if you don’t feel free to leave this out)
- 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 20 slices fresh mozzarella
- Mashed potatoes for “frosting” if desired
- Fresh Chives & Basil for garnish
Place 2 cups broth or water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and cook at a simmer, covered, for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.
In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms and leeks until they are fragrant and softened. Set aside to cool.
Drain any remaining liquid from the lentils. Mash approximately half of the lentils. Place them into a large mixing bowl and allow them to cool.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously spray two muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. *If you would rather bake this as a traditional meatloaf, generously grease a loaf pan. You will also likely need to adjust your baking time to 40 -45 minutes.
Once lentils have cooled, add the leek/mushroom mixture, oats, and cheeses to the lentils and stir to combine.
Add the eggs, sauce,garlic powder, basil, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, paprika and salt to the bowl and stir until combined.
Fill prepared muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with lentil mixture.
Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.
If you wish to have mashed potato “frosting” for the cupcakes. Go ahead and make the mashed potatoes while the cupcakes are baking.
After 30 -35 minutes, remove the pans and add a teaspoon full of spaghetti sauce to the top of each cupcake, as well as a spice of fresh mozzarella.
Bake until mozzarella is melted.
Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cakes and then carefully remove from the tins.
Pipe mashed potato frosting onto the cupcakes if you desire and decorate with chive sprinkles. Or if foregoing the frosting, garnish “naked” cupcakes with freshly chopped basil.
Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)