Life on the Veg: Lentil Nut Loaf at Mother's Market & Kitchen

Life on the Veg: Lentil Nut Loaf at Mother's Market & Kitchen

Welcome to Life on the Veg. This is the first installment of what will theoretically be a weekly chronicle of a vegetarian-by-circumstance's adventure through OC's selection of veg-friendly and unfriendly cuisine. If you're wondering why I would even bother to include the duds, the answer is: to save you from yourself. I'm an adventurous eater and can't say how many times my optimism has left me thinking: if I was going to spend my money on something inedible, I could have at least been ten bucks closer to a new lap top. Life on the Veg can be dangerous, but also quite satisfying. So eat, read, and add in your two cents so that together we can define the best of OC vegetarian dining... and hopefully learn from our mishaps along the way.

Speaking of mishaps... This brings us to today's featured dish: the Lentil Nut Loaf at Mother's Market & Kitchen in Irvine. A spongy conglomeration of hodgepodge ingredients, Mother's Nut Loaf combines: green lentils, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, thyme, black pepper, tamari chili powder, egg whites, mozzarella, and walnuts... The result of which tastes (and feels) about as confusing as it sounds. The Nut Loaf is reminiscent of meat loaf in presentation, but that's pretty much where the association ends. The texture is predominately soft with firmer, whole lentils baked into the mixture which makes for an interesting chewing experience and beany aftertaste. On top of that (literally) you have the non-dairy gravy which uses non-hydrogenated margarine, potato starch, and veggie chicken broth to create grainy, off-white sauce that would probably taste a whole lot better if it didn't make you slightly paranoid that you might have pissed off someone in the kitchen big time.

I have to admit: this wasn't my first experience with the Nut Loaf. I can see how this dish can be popular with those on a nostalgia trip for some good ol' home-style comfort food. The lentils, egg whites, and mozzarella work as a great protein fix if you've been grazing on grass all day for lack of a better option. On my second go, I can definitely say I had experienced the Nut Loaf through the rose-colored beer goggles of a ravenous appetite. The Nut Loaf is definitely a hit or miss depending on whatever mood you're in, but at $4.25 à la carte, it's a great way to hit that savory spot and walk away with a stomach full of something if not satisfaction.

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