Friday, January 23, 2009

Lentil Rice Casserole

Two of the things that I have "stockpiled" in my basement are lentils and rice. Rice is so versatile - you can use it in a million things. And lentils are a big hit in my house. I know not everyone is familiar with lentils and might not know what to do with them other than in a lentil soup. One of our favorite recipes (my daughter Jana has requested this for her birthday dinner before) is Lentil Rice Casserole.

The thing I love about this recipe is that it is super simple, uses ingredients I almost always have on hand (making it a perfect "oh my gosh, what's for dinner" recipe), and is pretty darn healthy. I use white rice in this because I've never been able to make brown rice work. You would think it would be simple - brown rice and lentils cook in the same amount of time. However, whenever I try to make it with brown rice something goes wrong. Either the lentils are still crunchy or the rice is gummy. Have a try and let me know if you can make it work. Even with white rice it still has a bunch of nutrition in it, so I'm not stressing out about it too much.

Lentil Rice Casserole

Saute in a large skillet:

1 chopped onion
several chopped carrots (I use lots because it ups the nutritional value)
1 -2 Tbs olive oil (or other good oil)

When the onions are starting to wilt, add:

1/2 c. brown lentils

Stir and cook for a few more minutes. You don't need to fully cook the carrots or onion, you just want to start them. It will look like this:

Add to the pan;

2 c. broth (we use chicken broth but you could use vegetable broth or beef, your choice)

Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes. Set a timer for this one, you really want it to be pretty close to exactly 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, stir in:

1/2 c. white rice

Cover again and set the timer for 20 more minutes. During this time make a salad or slice some bread or slice some fruit. Or paint your nails or check your email or whatever.

Uncover and test to make sure the rice and lentils are tender. You may need to stir in a little more water and let simmer for 5 more minutes or so. When everything is good to go, sprinkle on top:

grated cheese (we like cheddar but have used mozzarella or colby jack in a pinch)

Cover for a minute or so to let the cheese melt. Then serve!

That's it. So easy and I almost always have rice, lentils, boullion cubes, onions, carrots and cheese. Try it, you'll like it!

This recipe is adaptable, also. You can add more lentils and rice if your family is bigger. Just make sure you have twice as much stock as you do total rice plus lentils. For example if you do one cup of lentils and one cup of rice (2 cups total), then you need 4 cups of stock/broth. Make sense? I try to keep the lentils and rice even but if your family loves lentils and isn't as keen on rice, then play with the proportions. Have fun.




Nancy said...

I make a dish that's very similar to this. We like to include a dollop of sour cream on top when serving.

Betsy said...

We make something similar to this with brown rice and lentils. I'm including the link--maybe you can figure out how to adapt it to your recipe and include brown rice in your recipe. I've not had a problem with the combination--maybe mine uses more liquid? The lentils are a bit mushy, but we don't mind that. Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions

Dazy said...

I'm making this for dinner tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!