Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Liven up Your Leftovers: Lentil Rice Casserole

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while, as I make it frequently; it's my husband's favorite. Today seemed like a good time because a) I had some leftover to photograph, b) my serving suggestions tie in with my current goal to eat more salad, and c) I need a break from pricing items for consignment. :)

This recipe is based on the recipe here, but I have adjusted it enough that I thought it worth sharing my version!

3 1/2 cups water (or stock for added flavor)
1 cup rice (I use brown)
1 cup lentils (check for rocks. Don't ask how I know.)
1 tsp salt
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced (I use more, and use different colors if on hand)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (I use a teaspoon or more)
1/2 tsp chili powder (I used a teaspoon or more)
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 minced garlic clove)
1/2 cup salsa of your choice
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Rinse brown rice in strainer under tap water. Place in pan over medium heat and heat/dry, stirring frequently until rice kernels give off a toasted odor and begin to pop. (This brings out the flavor of the brown basmati rice that I use, feel free to skip it if you prefer!)
  • Add water or stock, lentils, and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, 20-30 minutes.
  • In the meantime, dice onion and bell pepper. Heat oil in large skillet, add vegetables and saute until softened. Add cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, stir to combine. Add salsa and diced tomatoes. When cooked, add lentil rice mixture. Stir to combine evenly.
  • Spray 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking oil. Spread half of lentil rice mixture in bottom of pan. Top with half of shredded cheddar. Add remaining lentil rice mixture, top with remaining cheese. (At this point I store it in the fridge until dinnertime. It's make-ahead! I haven't tried freezing it, though.)
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes before serving.
To Liven up your Leftovers: I like to serve this for lunch as filling for a lettuce wrap. In the picture above I used romaine lettuce; other rounder lettuce types might work better. Simply heat the casserole up and spoon in into the middle of the lettuce leaf.

Other tips:
  • I like to make this casserole in conjunction with other meals that require bell peppers. When I made this meal, I used a green bell pepper plus part of a red pepper and a yellow pepper. I reserved part of the red/yellow peppers and sliced them to be used with Tilapia and Pepper Packets to be served tomorrow. You could also reserve bell peppers for fajitas or kabobs.
  • This meal is vegetarian, and could be vegan if you replaced the cheese. You could also add ground beef or shredded chicken for the carnivorous folks in your life. (You may need a larger pan if you add a full pound of ground beef...)
And now, back to pricing.

For more ideas on how to use lentils and other dried legumes, head over to LifeasMom.com!

No comments: