Thursday, January 16, 2020

Quick Lentils and Rice With Caramelized Spanish Sweet Onions Recipe (Vegan, Gluten Free)

In this recent post, I showed you how to caramelize Spanish Sweet Onions and use them in a quick, healthy and delicious lunch or dinner wrap. As I mentioned then, caramelized onions are easy to make and have so many tasty uses. As promised, here is a second recipe that makes an ideal foundation for caramelized Spanish Sweets.

These onions contain more sugar and less water than other onions. Not only are they ideal for caramelizing, but they're great for sautéing and grilling too. If you use onions almost daily (like I do), you'll be happy to know that you can chop or dice them and then freeze them, so they are ready to be used in cooked dishes such as fried rice or butternut squash soup.

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My whole family loves lentils and rice. Often I make this traditional lentils and rice recipe to take to potlucks, and it's always a hit. That recipe takes more than an hour to make, however, and requires a lot of oil. I thought I'd create a faster lentils and rice recipe that is low in oil for a healthier everyday option. For a speedier recipe, I've called for canned lentils, but you can certainly cook up dried lentils if you have more time.

I also used basmati rice for a change, just because I really like the fluffy texture of it. This quick lentils and rice recipe is naturally vegan and can be made gluten-free just by taking care with the soy sauce/tamari that you choose.

Meal prep suggestions

Cook the basmati rice and caramelize the onions on your meal prep day and store them in tightly covered containers in the fridge for a couple of days. (If you wish to cook lentils from dry rather than using canned, you can do that on meal prep day too.)

This vegan lentils and rice recipe comes together in under 10 minutes if the rice has been previously cooked! It is an ideal recipe for a busy weeknight. I like to serve it with this Easy Weeknight Baked Tofu dish, which is also very simple to make.

This lentils and rice recipe calls for just a few simple ingredients and makes an ideal plant-based side dish. It also makes a great main dish when paired with a side salad of mixed greens and fresh berries. The caramelized onions on top contribute a sweet and savoury flavour that meshes well with the subtle flavours of the lentils and rice, a dish that's gently spiced with cumin.

Storing Spanish Sweet Onions

The growers of Idaho-Eastern Oregon Spanish Sweet Onions recommend storing onions in a basket or mesh bag with good air circulation. This way the onions can last up to four weeks, making them an ideal pantry staple.

Onion facts

The rich volcanic soils and dry climate of Idaho/Oregon’s Snake River Valley produce some of the finest onions in the world, with a unique combination of mild flavour, large size and tight, dry skins.

The onion is an ancient vegetable, thought to have come from Central Asia. It has been grown for over 5,000 years in Egypt and 2,000 years in Italy.

How to prevent teary eyes when chopping onions

Onions contain sulfuric compounds that, when cut, enter the air and cause tear ducts to react. To help prevent tearing, refrigerate the onion 30 minutes to an hour before cutting. Peel the onion under cold running water. Always cut an onion from the neck end first, because the sulfur compounds tend to be stronger at the root.

Questions for you

How often do you use onions? Do you ever dice them and freeze them to use later?

Pin it for later:

Quick Lentils and Rice With Caramelized Spanish Sweet Onions


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 19 oz can lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce or gluten-free tamari), more if needed 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 3 cups cooked basmati rice 
  • 1/2 cup caramelized Spanish Sweet Onions

Heat sesame oil in a large pan over medium heat. Be careful not to burn. Add lentils, Bragg's, black pepper and cumin and heat, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and heat for 2 or 3 minutes, stirring regularly to avoid sticking. Plate and top with caramelized onions.



  1. I am definitely pending that for later. Do you have any idea how much I love caramelized onions? That’s what got my attention on this post first. We cook so much stuff with onions it’s not even funny. Pinning this for later.

    1. Thanks Paula! I love caramelized onions too! And I cook with onions pretty much daily. I hope you enjoy the recipe! :)

  2. Thank you so much for this. My daughter's girlfriend is vegan and will be staying with us this summer. I try to cook vegan dinners twice a week but is difficult to come up with new ideas we will all like. This will be a huge hit!

    1. Oh that's wonderful! I'm so happy the recipe is helpful Heather! :)

  3. Thanks for the recipe. I love lentils but I cook them from scratch. About onions yes I dice and slice them and freeze.its very convenient and ready when cooking.