Thursday, August 25, 2011

Favourite Foods, Part One, Lentils & Rice (vegan, gluten-free)

Of all the domestic arts, I think cooking is the most important. After all, it's essentially a daily requirement. It also causes parents the most anxiety. When both parents in a household are working, and then taking one or more children to recreational and competitive sports, tutors and other appointments, it's not easy to provide healthy, well-rounded meals. Now that I am working from home, I feel even more pressure to provide home-cooked (and tasty) meals as often as possible. 

I wish I could say I love to cook. I just don't. I do love to eat though, and I enjoy the sense of companionship that a good shared meal brings. In order to make the task easier, I find it helps to follow a plan. Before I head out on a grocery shopping trip, I choose one of my (many!) cookbooks or visit a favourite cooking website. Once I have picked out a couple of recipes to make that week, I add the necessary ingredients to my shopping list, along with the many items that will contribute to our “usual” meals, like refried bean tacos, baked tofu or pasta and marinara sauce. When I really don't feel like cooking, I stick with old favourites that can be whipped up in a snap.

My Fave Recipe Ever!

This is possibly my favourite recipe EVER. It comes from my friend Tina and her mom Violet. I got this recipe from them many years ago, after one of their wonderful parties with lots of delicious food. Isn't that the best kind of party? Since then, I’ve made lentils and rice for countless events, including birthday parties, baptisms and potlucks at work.

If you know me, there is a good chance I have served you lentils and rice. One of the things I like about this recipe is there is a fair amount of cooking time, but little prep work. You can prepare other dishes while it cooks. It also makes a large quantity, so it's great for a party. It is deceptively simple with few ingredients. And it is vegan and gluten-free. Yes, it calls for a cup of olive oil. But it makes a huge amount so you really won't be eating all that much oil. You could probably cut it back to 3/4 cup if you really want to. But I wouldn't. It's just so good! And it's party food.  Give it a try. I bet you'll love it too!

Lentils & Rice

by Joann MacDonald
Keywords: boil entree gluten-free nut-free vegan vegetarian lentils rice Lebanese
Ingredients (Serves 8 to 10)
  • 2 cups dry lentils
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 or more large onions, julienned
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 Tbsp salt or to taste

Discard any foreign grains or stones from the lentils. Rinse the lentils well and place them in a large pot with the water. Add salt. Boil until tender, about ½ hour.

While the lentils are cooking, sauté onions in the olive oil until light brown. Take onions out and put aside (keeping oil).

Add the oil from the onions, along with the rice, to the lentils and cook on low (with the lid on) until rice is done (usually 20 minutes). Place lentils and rice on a plate and cover with fried onions.

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  1. Thanks..I love lentil soup and can't wait to try this!

  2. Have you tried it with brown rice? I assume it just takes longer to cook. Thank you!

    1. I feel like I did do that a couple of times, but I can't quite remember. If I did, I would use one of the brands that is more "white-like." Usually I use white rice or basmati. We get lots of fibre from other things. This is like a little treat. :)

  3. Does this recipe seriously call for a whole CUP of Olive Oil?

    1. Hi Carrie, Yes it does. We generally use it as a side dish and it feeds a ton of people! I don't think this recipe would work with much less oil, because it is flavoured simply with onion, salt and oil.

  4. Hang on... so you don't rinse off the rice mix after cooking? isn't it starchy?

    1. No, you can't rinse it after cooking, or you would wash away the flavour/oil. It isn't starchy. You have to use the exact amount of water and then there won't be any water left at the end. Just like cooking regular rice. The secret to this (and cooking regular rice) is to not remove the lid once you have added the rice and turned the heat to low. Turn your timer on and wait until it beeps. Then pull the pot off the burner, leave it for a few minutes to cool slightly, and then fluff the rice mix with a fork. Give it a try. :)

    2. Hey Joann! As you know I love when you make this dish! I finally followed your recipe and it turned out great! For all those who are unsure, try it-you will LOVE it!!

    3. Hey Kerri, Thanks so much. That's so sweet of you to say. I'm very glad it turned out for you. :)

  5. This looks great!!! We are always looking for good meal ideas. My daughter is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts, so it can be challenging to feed our family of five hearty meals that are also safe for her. This looks perfect. We all love lentils and who doesn't love a good caramelized onion? Thank you!!! I can't wait to try it.

    1. I think this will be a great recipe for you guys! Allergies are challenging for sure. Fortunately there are more and more wonderful recipes out there for those affected. Let me know how the rice goes. :)



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