Rice and lentils are a classic combination. All over the Middle East you find versions of Mujaddara, a dish of rice and lentils garnished with caramelized onions often flavored with cumin. Sometimes there’s a little tomato sauce in the mix or a spicy harissa. There are Indian versions as well.
This simple Italian combination of arborio rice and small either French green or Italian brown lentils is the perfect lunch or dinner with a salad on the side. You cook the lentils and rice in the same pot with just some garlic, parsley and a little tomato and some good broth of your choosing or veggie bouillon. Dress it up with some more parsley, some parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil and dig in.
There’s nothing fancy about this and that’s why it’s such a winner for when all you have is your pantry–which hopefully always contain rice and lentils. Either short or long-grain brown rice would work too though you would increase the cooking time for the rice a bit. Parsley grows almost year-round here in Western Oregon so this is truly a pantry meal in our household. You could probably substitute dried oregano and/or thyme and add a bay leaf to the broth when you’re cooking it if there’s no parsley on hand. And come to think of it, a dollop of harissa would probably be delicious with this.
Happy Cooking and Eating!
Italian Lentil and Rice Stew
1/2 cup of small French green lentils or Italian brown lentils
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons (more or less), Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 medium tomatoes, diced (I used 4 halves of roasted tomatoes that I roast and freeze for just such things) or 2 canned tomatoes, without their juice, diced
4 cups stock, broth, veggie bouillon broth, etc.
good olive oil for drizzling
a bit more parsley for garnish
Saute the parsley and garlic for just about a minute in a saucepan in a little olive oil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lentils and the broth (if the broth is not salty add 1 teaspoon of salt at this point) and bring to a boil. Turn down and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the rice (if using brown rice you want to add the rice at the same time as the lentils) and cook for another 15 minutes or so until both lentils and rice are tender but not mushy. There will still be a little liquid in the pan which is how it should be. Adjust seasoning.
Sever with parmesan, parsley and a drizzle of good oil