Meatless Monday – Savory Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf

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Savory Lentils and Brown Rice Pilaf was born out of pure laziness, coupled with my love for lentils and savory/spicy food.  It was raining and I didn’t want to battle the Christmas shoppers for parking or stand in line to purchase ingredients which I would then have to lug home and turn into dinner. If you find the ‘dinner question’ to be an ordeal every day, how about an easy alternative?  Look no further than your pantry for commonly stocked items like, rice and lentils.  throw in a few dried spices and dinner is on the table.  Easy peasy!  Your pantry not very well stocked?  Well there is a simple solution to that; Stock it!  Your world becomes a lot easier if you can make dinner without having to do that last minute grocery store run, especially in the winter when gardens are not as prolific and fresh produce is harder to find.

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If you’re not sure what to stock in your pantry, consider the non perishable foods that you eat regularly; pasta, beans, olive oil, vinegar, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, rice and other grains, broth or boullion. I like to throw in some specialty items like canned hearts of palm or artichoke hearts which help transcend an otherwise boring salad into something special.  If you bake at all, include flour, sugar, salt, your favorite spices, and cooking oil. You will also want to keep ingredients that you use frequently on hand that are perishable but can last days or weeks on your counter like fresh onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and other root vegetables. Don’t forget to use your freezer as an extension of your pantry (and not just for ice cream).  Mine is stocked with nuts and frozen vegetables.  Your pantry should reflect the kinds of foods you like to eat. If you like Italian food, you should have a supply of pasta, tomatoes and Italian herbs like basil and oregano.  If you like Mediterranean food, stock your pantry with grains and legumes plus spices like cumin, ginger and allspice.  If are a list person or just beginning to stock a kitchen pantry, check out this List of Basic Pantry Ingredients from Basic Cooking to get yourself started.

Otherwise start shopping in your own pantry!  Perhaps you want to start with this yummy but healthy ‘one pot’ recipe…

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TIPS:  Lentils are a wonderful addition to any meal.  You can add to salads, soups or stews.  Red and yellow lentils are softer and best for soups and stews.  If you want the lentil to hold it’s shape, use the firmer green or black lentils.  The regular brown lentils will work too but will cook faster (get soft and split), so I would add those in after 10 minutes or so.  I have listed the spices as 1 or 2 teaspoons, depending on how much spice you like.  The kind of broth you use will also determine how much additional salt and spice you need.  I would recommend adding 1 teaspoon of the spices when you add the broth, stir to combine and taste.  Then add salt and more spice to your taste.

SAVORY LENTIL AND BROWN RICE  PILAF

1 Tbsn sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grained brown rice
1 cup lentils (preferably green or black firm lentils)
1-2 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp ginger powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
6 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled (optional)
1/2 cup raisins, purple or golden (optional)

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  • Saute onion and garlic in  a heavy, wide pan until slightly soft.  Add rice and stir until aromatic. Add lentils and stir to coat.

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  • Add water and the smaller amount of spices. Taste the broth, then add salt and additional spices as needed. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

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  • Stir in peas, and fluff with a fork. Top with raisins and pistachios if desired.

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Savory Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 Tbsn sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grained brown rice
1 cup lentils (preferably green or black firm lentils)
1-2 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp ginger powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
6 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled (optional)
1/2 cup raisins, purple or golden (optional)

  • Saute onion and garlic in  a heavy, wide pan until slightly soft.  Add rice and stir until aromatic.
  • Add lentils and stir to coat.
  • Add water and spices. Taste the broth, then add salt and additional spices as needed. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in peas, and fluff with a fork. Top with raisins and pistachios if desired.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Coconut Ginger Quinoa

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Somehow 2013 came and went without my knowing that I was missing “The International Year of the Quinoa”  as officially  declared by The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. (The World’s Healthiest Foods)  I didn’t ‘discover’ quinoa until December, almost completely missing the superfood’s official year.  I’m on board now, though and always looking to include interesting seeds and grains in my diet.  Interestingly, Quinoa is not a grain but a seed (a Chenopod to be specific) related to  beetroot and spinach.  It is a complete protein and nutrient rich, including a source of calcium. Quinoa is gluten free and easier to digest than many other grains and pseudo-grains.

Coconut Ginger Quinoa is a flavor packed dish, the combination of onion, ginger and coconut providing a great balance of savory and sweet.  In addition to the quinoa, edamame and almonds give it a protein boost.  The apples and raisins add a natural sweetness and help make it kid friendly.  Younger kids might have fun shelling the edamame while you cook the quinoa.   This is a very forgiving dish that can be served warm or at room temperature, making it perfect for making ahead or bringing to a potluck. You can even make the quinoa ahead of time and assemble the ingredients at the last minute. Enjoy!

Coconut Ginger Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 tsp. coconut or olive oil
½ cup onion, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups vegetable broth

1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 medium apple, diced
1/4 cup raisins, currants or cranberries (optional)
1/2  cup unsweetened coconut flakes or shreds (I used half and half)
Dressing (optional):  1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey
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  • Toast almonds in dry pan over medium heat for several minutes, or until fragrant and golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool. If you are using flake coconut, you can dry toast it as well for a nice nutty flavor.  Set aside.
  •  Sauté onion in oil 2 to 3 minutes, or until translucent.

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  •  Add vegetable broth, quinoa and ginger.  Simmer, covered for 15 to 20 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. (Note:  Rinse quinoa to remove any last remaining saponin, a naturally occurring but bitter covering.  If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer, just put quinoa in a bowl , fill with water and pour out as much water as possible without pouring out any quinoa.)
  •  Let partially cool and pour into a large serving bowl.

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  • Shell the edamame and boil in salted water for 4  minutes. Drain.  (Or you can add the edamame to the quinoa for the last few minutes of cooking)
  • Add edamame, almonds, apple, raisins and coconut to quinoa and toss to mix. Salt to taste.  Drizzle with dressing if using. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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