Look, I don’t mean to brag here, but this dish is a winner. It started out as mujaddara – a spiced Middle Eastern dish of lentils, rice and onions. But you know me, and I can’t settle for only grains and protein for dinner. I have to add as many veggies as I can. As it happens, I’ve also been hankering for some paella lately (also Spanish rice, which I plan on making with cauliflower – stay tuned!) – not traditional paella, since I don’t eat meat or seafood, but the idea of a paella. You know, rice and veggies and spices. The obvious solution is to combine the two, and I must say, it is mighty delicious. And, as always, healthy!
- 3/4 cup lentils (I like red)
- 1/3 cup basmati or long-grain rice
- 1 small tomato, chopped
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3-1/2 cup frozen peas
- about 3 ounces baby spinach
- olive oil
- 1/4-1/3 cup red wine
- pinch of dried sage and thyme
- chili powder, paprika and red chili flakes
- salt and pepper
First, soak your rice in water while you get the lentils and veggies going. Put your lentils on the stove with 1 and 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the water is evaporated and the lentils are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the tomato and let stand, covered, until the other items are done.
Although you should technically soak your rice for about 30 minutes, I usually get impatient and only soak it for about 10 minutes before cooking it. Like the lentils, stir with 2/3 to 1 cup water and cover, bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. The rice might take a little longer to cook, about 25-30 minutes, until it’s truly tender. Stir it (and the lentils!) often so nothing sticks to the bottom of your pan and burns.
While your lentils and rice are going, start sauteeing your onions in olive oil. When they begin to soften and turn translucent, add your garlic and mushrooms. Wipe the caps with a paper towel to clean and scrape out the gills of the portobello.
Sautee on medium-low heat until the mushrooms start to cook, then add about 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 to 1/3 cup red wine (I just drizzle it in the pot till it looks right – i.e. not a lot of excess wine in the pan), plus a little more olive oil if needed. Also add some salt, pepper, sage and thyme to taste (just a pinch of the last two, and a healthy sprinkling of the first two). Stir frequently until the mushrooms really become tender and start to shrink.
At this point, add in your baby spinach and peas, and stir until the spinach begins to wilt. Take off the heat and add to the lentils, along with a dash of chili powder, a smidge of red pepper flakes if you like heat, and a generous amount of paprika. Stir together with more salt and pepper, and add the rice whenever it’s ready. Taste to adjust the seasonings, but remember the flavors will marry more as leftovers. Then…serve! Whole grains, protein (in the rice, peas and lentils) and of course vegetables. My kind of meal and oh so good. Another one-pot (okay, three-pot) wonder!