Last night, whilst rooting around trying to find some barley (I was going to make chicken barley soup) I came across some dry green lentils and remembered this great recipe with rice & lentils that I saw in the Ottolenghi Cookbook we were given. So, that was that, we were going to have rice & lentils for our supper… This dish is so diverse and could go well with grilled meat or fish, or just by itself. I was really pleased with the result and it reminds me very much of the food my Turkish grandfather used to make for me & my siblings when we were little. My Grandfather was an amazing cook – all vegetarian and all very very delicious & healthy. Perhaps that’s why he lived to his mid-90s! My most vivid memory is of me, my sister and brother having his leftover rice & spinach or bulgur & black eye beans for our breakfast. His rice & spinach was made in the same way as this dish. Butter, vermicelli, onions, rice, wilted spinach, drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and fancy something a bit different instead of plain boiled rice, give this dish a go!
Source: Ottolenghi The Cookbook – Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi published by Ebury Press.
- 1 ½ cups green lentils
- 1 cup basmati rice (note: I used white basmati & wild rice mix as that’s all I had available)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 ¾ ounces vermicelli noodles, broken into 1 ½ inch pieces
- 1 ⅔ cups chicken stock or water
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 white onions, halved and thinly sliced
Place the lentils in a large sieve and wash them under a cold running tap. Transfer to a large saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. The lentils should be tender but far from mushy. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In a large bowl, cover the rice with cold water, wash, and then drain well. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raw vermicelli. Stir, and continue frying and stirring until the vermicelli is golden brown. Add the drained rice and mix well until it is well coated in the butter. Now add the stock, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and then lower the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel, and put the lid back on. Leave like that for about 5 minutes; this helps make the rice light and fluffy.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions, and sauté over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until dark brown. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
To serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork and then add the lentils and most of the onions, reserving a few for garnish. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Pile the rice high on a serving platter and top with the remaining onions.
This dish should be served hot with a spicy tomato sauce (recipe for that is also in the Ottlenghi Cookbook), but I omitted the sauce and instead, served with salmon fillets, asparagus & samphire.
Thank you Yotam & Sami for a most tasty supper!