I need a different title for this recipe.
When I read the words "Lentil and Rice Pilaf," my taste buds pretty much turn off of their own accord. I can't help it - in my mind I start tasting every bland batch of lentils and rice I cooked back in my vegan days in college. You know - lentils, rice, a bit of celery and a vegetarian boullion cube? Bland, boring, tastes like cardboard? That's what I think of when I hear "pilaf."
But this one is different. This one doesn't taste like lentils. It tastes like an explosion of tangy lemon, garlic and chilis, tossed with sweet bell pepper, fresh parsley, and crunchy almonds. It tastes like... flavor. I love this.
The blend of seasonings that I use in this recipe was inspired by an incredible pasta salad that a friend of mine brought to a barbecue a few weeks ago. In her original version, which I hope to post soon as a full recipe, chewy potato gnocchi were tossed with a delectable pesto of roasted red bell peppers, almonds, lemon juice, and other spices. I'd actually planned to post that recipe this weekend, but when it came down to it I didn't have all the ingredients on hand. So I started experimenting with what I did have available, and came up with this flavorful, spicy pilaf.
I would call this a "quick" recipe, as the actual prep work is fairly minimal. The cooking time is about 45 minutes for the rice and lentils, however, so you do need to get it on the stove well before you plan to eat. It would be great with chicken or tofu and maybe a side of green beans to round everything out. I was scooping it up with gluten-free flatbread all afternoon, and I'm still absolutely stuffed hours later.
Lemony, Spicy Lentil and Rice Pilaf
You could go hogwild with the veggies in this recipe - carrots, green onions, heaps more bell peppers - all of those would be delicious added in. Be sure to use brown or "French green" lentils. Don't use the pink or red ones, as they will turn to mush when cooked.
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup brown or French green lentils
2-1/2 cups water
5 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 Tbs salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small, hot chili pod, chopped - or 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
1 Tbs tomato paste
1-2 bell peppers: red, orange or yellow, chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 large handful almonds, chopped
1. Cooking the grains
Put the rice, lentils, and water in a pot over medium-high heat. Add the lemon juice, salt, garlic, tomato paste and chili. When the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Cook for about 45 minutes, until the water is fully absorbed, and remove from heat.
2. Mixing it all together
When the rice and lentils are cooked, let them cool slightly. Stir in the bell peppers, chopped tomato, parsley, and chopped almonds. Serve with chopped almonds as garnish.
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