We’re creating a new Guideposts.org

It’s faster, it’s mobile friendly—and we’d love you to have a sneak peekClick here to preview

Mom's Vegetable "Meatloaf" with Checca Sauce

Who says vegetarian cooking can't be hearty and satisfying? Not popular celebrity chef, Giada De Laurentiis, who offers this delicious, robust meat-free dish.

By Giada De Laurentiis, Los Angeles, California

As appeared in

“The lentils and the brown rice make this dish hearty while keeping it fluffy and light,” says Giada. “My favorite part is the fresh tomato sauce.”


Checca Sauce
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions (white and pale green parts only)1 tsp. kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, chopped½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 fresh basil leaves 
Lentil Loaf
Vegetable oil cooking spray1 c. shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil½ c. frozen corn kernals, thawed
1 small white onion, finely chopped⅓ c. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 medium carrot, shredded2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced1 large egg white, lightly beaten
4 c. fresh baby spinach1 tsp. kosher salt
15-oz. can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 c. cooked brown rice2 medium tomatoes, sliced


Checca Sauce
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.

2. Pulse until tomatoes are coarsely chopped; be careful not to purée them.

3. Transfer to a bowl.

Lentil Loaf
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10x4½- inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.

3. In same skillet, cook spinach over medium heat until it wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.

4. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach. Transfer to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Add to onion mixture.

5. Add lentils, brown rice, ¾ cup of the mozzarella, corn, basil, eggs, egg white, salt, pepper and sauce. Spoon mixture into prepared pan.

6. Arrange tomatoes in 2 rows on top, covering loaf completely.

7. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and drizzle with remaining olive oil.

8. Bake until loaf is heated through and topping is melted and starting to brown, 30 to 35 minutes.

9. Let cool 15 minutes. Slice loaf (still in pan) into 1-inch slices and serve with remaining sauce.

Serves 6.

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 388; Fat: 19g; Cholesterol: 90mg; Sodium: 631mg; Total Carbohydrates: 41g; Dietary Fiber: 11g; Sugars: 7g; Protein: 17g.

Try more of Giada's recipes!

Don't miss Giada's inspiring advice for creating a happier, healthier life for yourself and your family.

Giada's Feel Good Food book coverReprinted from Giada's Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets. Copyright © 2013 by Giada De Laurentiis. Photographs
copyright © 2013 by Amy Neunsinger. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, LLC.