Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Middle Eastern Rice and Lentils

This has happened to me more than once: I make a great vegan meal and decide to take it to a church potluck, you know, with the idea of impressing everyone and glowing in the aftermath of a whole slew of folks turning from their meat-eating-ways.

My Lentil Bolognese (HERE is the recipe) is worthy of a gold star and accolades from all camps, yet it does not translate well to a crock pot full of cooked rigatoni. There is no oil or fat in it, so it really doesn’t stay nice and loose and hearty. At that potluck, my crockpot was filled with a blob of sticky pasta with a strange scattering of lentils. Seriously embarrassing.

For another potluck I made the Forks Over Knives “Smoky Little Devils” (HERE is that recipe) which are tiny red potatoes, filled with a spicy hummus: reminiscent of deviled eggs. That potluck found my offering to be way too heavy on the turmeric (which can be bitter if you’re not used to it).  One friend asked me, “Is that turmeric in there?” ….meaning, “My GOSH, that’s a lot of turmeric!” Alas, my platter of little devils sat basically untouched….except by me. (I do recall everyone else eating buckets full of chickens' legs and I believe there were also pork ribs there too ….. sigh….. a poorly made smoky devil stands no chance against those….)

Last week, I brought a crockpot full of this terrific rice dish, sure that I’d be the talk of the luncheon…..but I was too lazy to leave the house for brown rice and I used white rice instead….. which simply created a weird crockpot full of rice and lentils. Blah.

You will have to trust me when I say that I am a great cook and I can tell a cruddy recipe from a good one. This one’s good…. I just HIGHLY recommend that you use brown rice!

Here’s what you need:
½ onion, chopped
1 T veg oil
1 C uncooked BROWN rice
2 T tomato paste
2 ½ C water
¼ t cinnamon
¼ C dry brown lentils
1 t salt
½ C golden raisins
½ C slivered almonds, toasted

Here’s what you do:
Saute the onion in the oil.  Add the rice and stir a bit in the oil. Mix the tomato paste in the water and smooth it out. Add it to the rice along with the cinnamon and lentils. Bring to boil, lower to simmer, cover and cook about 20 minutes.
Stir in the salt, raisins, and almonds. May add a bit more water if it seems dry. Pour into a greased casserole. The mixture should be a bit watery.  Cover and bake 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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