Sunday, June 13, 2010

Budget-Friendly Meal That Tastes Good

Heck, it tastes way better than just good.  It's a winner all around. What is it, you ask?  Lentil and Rice Salad.  You might be thinking, blah!, but there are so many terrific flavors in this dish that the lentils and rice get an instant upgrade in the taste department.   Moreover, it's cheap, healthy and a good pick for Meatless Mondays, if you're into that.  I picked it up from Giadi Di Laurentiis (hmmm, second time in a month).

It's not the most photographable food, but I think my topping of sauteed red onions helps the pretty factor a bit.

By the way, if you are serving this to picky eaters (such as my toddler), try setting aside a bit of each ingredient (prior to mixing) and serving it that way.  For example, on a dinner plate I put a little pile of lentils, another one of rice, and then some carrots.  I do this with most of the one-pot meals I make because the whole "mixed" concept isn't very popular with my toddler.

Lentil and Rice Salad

1T + 3T EVOO
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4c dried green or brown lentils
2 1/2c chicken broth plus 2c
1 bay leaf
1c long-grain white rice
1/2c pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1/2c fresh chopped Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1T chopped fresh thyme leaves
2t finely grated lemon peel
salt and pepper

My notes:  I skipped the parsley because I didn't have any, used 1t of dried thyme instead of fresh, and grated the garlic instead of mincing. Grating is my new favorite way to use garlic.  Also, in terms of the cooking time for the lentils, I went on the longer side because I enjoy a more soft lentil, not anything the slightest bit chewy or crunchy.  I cooked for at least 25 minutes before removing from the heat.

1.  Heat 1T of oil in a large saucepan.  Add carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Stir in lentils and 2 1/2c broth.  Cook over high heat until mixture comes to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer lentils 20 minutes until just tender.  Drain well, and transfer to a large serving bowl.

2.  Bring the remaining 2c broth and bayleaf to a boil over medium heat.  Add the rice, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Do not stir the rice while it cooks, but check after 15 minutes.

3.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and let sit 3-5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, and add to the bowl with the lentils.

4.  Add the olives, parsley, thyme, and lemon peal.  Toss with the remaining 3T of EVOO.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4-6.

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