Sustainable Food - Lentils and Rice

Image: The Heads of State

As I start out 2011, I think it’s always a good time to make an assessment of how you’re living/eating and make any changes that you think are appropriate. Here’s a link to an excellent article in the NY Times about sustainable eating, a topic of interest to me and many of you, I’m sure.

One of the “staple” recipes that Mark Bittman talks about is a basic lentil and rice recipe and I have a variant of this that I make often. Add this one to your arsenal and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Lentils and Rice

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over

1 cup long-grain brown rice

3 or 4 bay leaves

Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish.


1. Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion, celery, and carrot. Cook until vegetables begin to become tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and some salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two.

2. Add lentils, rice, bay leaves and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so liquid bubbles gently, and cover.

3. After 30 minutes, if rice and lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready. If lentils and rice are not tender, add enough liquid to keep bottom of pot moist, cover and cook for a few more minutes. If rice and lentils are soft and there is much liquid remaining (which is unlikely), raise heat a bit and cook, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until it evaporates. Discard bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, fluff with a fork and serve, garnished with parsley and drizzled with more olive oil.


Use any grain instead of brown rice; you can even substitute white rice. (Cooking time for white rice is half or less that for brown, so add later.)

Similarly, use any bean: cook longer as needed and keep an eye on the water to make sure the beans stay submerged in about 1 inch of water during cooking; wait to add the rice until the beans are tender.

Stock will add flavor, but don’t waste money on the canned stuff; use water instead. (The dish will taste like lentils and rice.) For more flavor, add onion, carrot, or other vegetables and an herb like thyme.

For the dish called Moors and Christians, substitute a red bell pepper for the celery and carrot, black beans for the lentils, and 1 cup chopped tomato for some of the liquid; let the beans cook until half done before adding the rice.

For smoky red beans and rice, add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and 2 teaspoons pimentón to the vegetables. Use red beans instead of lentils and cook until they’re half done before adding the rice (which should be short-grain). Simmer for another 15 minutes, then bake uncovered at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until the beans and rice are tender.

For mujaddara, cook two sliced onions in a couple tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat until they’re dark brown but not burned, and serve on top of the rice and lentils.

For lentil and rice soup — or any bean and rice soup — use more water, or stock if you have it.

via: NY Times

Other note: The image from the article was created by an amazing graphic design firm out of Philadelphia called the Heads of State. Check them out!

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