A dish both simple and elemental, the lentils and rice cook together, taking on flavor and qualities greater than themselves. The rice and lentils soak separately before cooking, which brings the tenderness out in the rice and encourages the lentils, which normally require no presoaking, to keep their shape. We should all be so lucky. It's traditionally topped with sautéed onions and makes a meal. Recipe and photo contributed by Ellen Kanner.
Serves: 6 to 8
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 cup brown rice
- 4 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion or two medium, sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon cumin, optional
- Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Pour lentils into a small bowl. Cover with cold water. Do the same with the rice, in a separate bowl. Leave 'em to soak for 30 minutes at a minimum, for 2 hours, if you've got the time.
The lentils and rice don't need any fussing with, just let them sit.
Bring water or vegetable broth to boil into a large saucepan. Strain lentils into a sieve. Rinse in cold water. Add to broth. Do the same with the brown rice. Toss in bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until lentils and rice are soft and fluffy and have soaked up all the liquid. Remove cover, remove from heat and set aside.
Just before serving, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes, until onions start to soften and turn golden and fragrant. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring, another 10 minutes or so, until onions are brown and tender. Season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Stir lentils and rice together gently. Remove bay leaf and season generously with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and optional cumin. Serve pilaf lavishly topped with onions.
Ellen Kanner writes the Meatless Monday column for The Huffingon Post, is the Edgy Veggie, a syndicated columnist, and Dinner Guest blogger on Culinate. She is also a contributor to Bon Appetit, Relish, Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, More, the Miami Herald and regional publications across the country.