Lentil Rice

This is a recipe that really works for me!  I developed it when I was on maternity leave and wanted hot lunches and needed plenty of nutritious calories for breastfeeding, but I was distracted by the baby and often literally had my hands full.  It takes a while to cook, but it can be left unsupervised for most of that time, and if you need to turn it off for a while and then finish cooking it later that’s not a problem.  It reheats well, so after putting in the effort to make a big vat of it, you’ll have lots of quick meals available!  You can even freeze it to eat a month or two later.  The vegetable-cutting-up can be done in advance, or you can use frozen veggiesLentils and rice are cheap and shelf-stable, easy to keep on hand all the time, and you can save money and reduce packaging waste by buying in bulk at a food co-op.  All the cooking water is absorbed by the food, so you don’t pour off any nutrients.

Like Pasta Salad and Tofu Soba Supper, this “recipe” is more like a set of guidelines that can be adapted to the amount and type of ingredients you have; you can even use leftover vegetables.  This one also has several flavor variants.  At the bottom is a specific example of the Herby Version: I wrote down what I put into my latest batch, which I am eating as I write this.

Basic Instructions

Put into a pot

  • dry green lentils
  • broth, or water and bouillon or other instant broth–same amount as the lentils
  • seasonings (see variants)

Bring to a boil. Simmer 20-30 minutes, depending on how soft you want them. Cut up the vegetables at this time, if that isn’t done already.

Add to the pot

  • white rice–as much as the lentils (if using brown rice, put in rice and water in the first step, at the same time as the lentils)
  • water–twice as much as the rice
  • a variety of fresh or frozen vegetables–about as much as the rice, or whatever you have.  Quick-cooking veggies like spinach or peas should be added a few minutes later.

Bring to a boil again. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed, which will take 15-30 minutes depending on the quantity. Check to see if rice is done; if not, add another half-cup of water and cook a while longer.

Serve with grated cheese on top, if desired.

Herby Version

Seasonings are garlic; herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme, dill, and tarragon; and optional pepper. Veggies are broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, and/or peas. Mushrooms are good in this, too.

Curry Version

Seasoning is yellow curry powder. Veggies/fruits are cauliflower, carrots, apple, and raisins–add raisins at the same time as the rice so they get all plump. Peanuts are good in this, too. Serve with plain yogurt instead of cheese.

Mexican Version

Cook some diced onion in olive oil in the bottom of the pot before you start the lentils. Seasonings are chili powder and optional hot sauce; if you have fresh cilantro, add it after cooking. Veggies are tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, and optional black olives.

This Week’s Specific Recipe

Makes about 10 hearty servings!

  • 2 cups green lentils
  • 2 cups water (to start)
  • 1/4 cup instant vegetable broth powder (from bulk section at food co-op)
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
  • 1 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 cups rice
  • 5 cups water (added with rice)
  • 12 smallish carrots, sliced
  • 5 leaves kale, stems removed, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen broccoli and cauliflower

UPDATE: This recipe is now linked to the Beans and Rice recipe linkup at Frugally Sustainable and the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

That’s it for the useful content of this article, but stay tuned for my tangential musing. . . .

What’s with the names of frozen vegetable blends??  The broccoli and cauliflower I put into my Lentil Rice were picked out of a bag of Normandy Vegetables which also include both orange and yellow carrots, because I wanted broccoli and cauliflower but we had a lot of fresh carrots that needed to be used.  We’ve taken to buying these Normandy Vegetables in a six-pound bag at Costco because the price is great and we really like the yellow carrots.  Before joining Costco, we routinely bought Giant Eagle’s blend of broccoli, cauliflower, and orange carrots, which is called Florentine Vegetables.  So…the difference between the vegetables of Florence, Italy, and Normandy, France, is…yellow carrots?  Are they a French thing?  We also sometimes buy Giant Eagle’s broccoli, matchsticked orange carrots, and mushrooms, called Parisian Vegetables.  Then there’s the broccoli and cauliflower without carrots, called California Vegetables.  Apparently what makes a bag of frozen vegetables an exotic European experience is…carrots.  Who decided that?

Normandy Vegetables always make me think of the Normandy Invasion, not because I know anything about the Normandy Invasion other than that the Allies landed on a beach and stomped into Nazi-occupied France, but because it’s the only thing I know about Normandy.  So as I hoist the six-pound bag above a vat of boiling water, I inevitably picture broccoli and cauliflower florets wearing Army helmets and brandishing carrot sticks and marching into the boiling sea, presumably to end the Lentil Occupation.  This is more conflict than I care to have on my stovetop.  I wonder if the vegetable packers had any focus groups before choosing these names or if they’re blissfully unaware of the associations they bring up in the minds of consumers.

13 thoughts on “Lentil Rice

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    • Yes! Just let it cool as much as you can before freezing–because if you put it away hot in a closed container, a lot of steam condenses on the inside of the lid and makes ice on top, and then it’s soggy when you thaw it.

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