A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law and I had a conversation about lentils. It seems they have been in the news a lot lately for their health benefits. I had never made them, and neither had she. So, we both resolved that we would make them and then share our success or failure. Fortunately, tonight’s meal was a success!
I scoured the internet for good lentil recipes and found a few I liked by Giada de Laurentis. I also found a good crockpot recipe from The Joy of Clean Eating, but it said to soak the lentils and brown rice overnight, and it was too late for that! So, I finally decided to make up my own recipe, usual several ingredients from varying recipes.
Lentils and Brown Rice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 cups dried green lentils
6 cups chicken broth, divided (preferably low-sodium, no MSG)
1 cup brown rice (I used Mahatma natural whole grain brown rice)
fresh parsley and thyme, optional
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils. Add 3 cups of broth and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are just tender, about 35-40 minutes. Drain well, if necessary, and transfer lentils to a large bowl.
Meanwhile, bring the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the brown rice and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until rice is tender and all of the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer to bowl with lentils. Add fresh herbs as desired. Toss the rice with the lentils and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
The best thing about lentils is, unlike other beans, they require no soaking beforehand. And, they really do pack a punch! A quarter cup of dried lentils has 10 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber. Honestly, the most time-consuming part of making this dish is chopping the carrot, onion, and garlic. Once you’ve done that, you are basically home-free! After adding the lentils and broth, they just have to simmer for a short time until they are done. You may find that you need more broth as they cook, or decide to use less next time.
I made the brown rice using the preset rice button on our microwave. It’s for white rice, so once it cooks one cycle, I just hit the button again. The total time is about 40 minutes, so it doesn’t speed things up any, but at least I don’t have to worry about the rice sticking (our stove top cooks rather unpredictably).
This being my first attempt at cooking lentils, I was pleasantly surprised with the result. They were savory and delicious. And serving them with the brown rice was perfect – I just love that chewy, hearty texture! Macho Man and my son both loved them. My daughter is just recovering from the stomach bug, so she was not feeling very adventuresome and opted to pass, understandably. As for me, I am most looking forward to eating the leftovers!
Until next time,