Friday, March 13, 2009

Lebanese-Style Lentils and Rice with Spinach

Another week of Lent means another meat-free Friday, and a new recipe from me to you :-).

I got this recipe from the local paper years ago, and usually make it once or twice during Lent. I have some lovely, elderly neighbors at the end of my street (they're from China, so sadly I haven't been able to converse with them at all), but they're out walking all the time. Yesterday, they brought me a big bag of home-grown spinach! I couldn't think of a better way to use it all up (since spinach wilts down to practically nothing).

Lentils and brown rice are also dirt cheap, healthy, and easy to prepare...all you need is a pot and a spoon...and a little patience, since brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice. Pics will be posted over the weekend.

One final note, to all my fellow Catholics, it is permissible to use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth on Fridays of Lent. I alreay had all the ingredients, so I didn't have to run to the store just for vegetable broth.

Lebanese-Style Lentils and Rice with Spinach

1/2 cup lentils (I just buy the generic brand at Kroger or Walmart)
1/2 cup uncooked brown rice (not the instant or quick-cooking)
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth (2 14.5 ounce cans)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced fine
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
6 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and patted dry
1/2 cup plain, low-fat yogurt

In an medium stock pot, combine the lentils, rice, broth bay leaf, and salt, bring to a simmer.

You don't need a hard boil here at all, just a gentle want this to cook slowly. (If your rice and lentils are not done and all the liquid is gone, add an additional 1/2 cup of stock.) Cook, partially covered for 40-45 minute or until all the broth has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender. Remove the bay leaf, cover, and set aside.

While the lentils and rice are cooking, heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and saute, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and golden brown.

This will take about 30-40 minutes, and it makes the onions very sweet. If your onions are starting to burn, turn down your heat (and yes, your entire house will smell like onions, which we don't mind, but you might want to check on your supply of air-freshening spray). Here's pics I took about every 8-10 minutes.

Add the caramelized onions to the lentils and rice, along with the allspice, and stir gently to combine. It should have a nice creamy texture--the rice should be tender, not mushy.

Put the lid back on, and set the pot aside.

Here's the spinach from my neighbor. Isn't it gorgeous? I've never seen spinach leaves so big in my entire life...I cut the bunch into thirds so it would fit better into the pan.

Heat the same skillet you used for the onions over medium-high heat, and add the spinach. You will probably need to do this in batches as the spinach wilts down--it should take just a few minutes. Personally, I like to add one clove of minced garlic, but this is entirely optional.

Remove the spinach to a serving bowl, and drain off any excess liquid. The spinach should be bright green and limp, but not mushy.

To serve, scoop some of the lentils and rice in a bowl. Top with a serving of spinach, and a dollop of yogurt.

My kids are okay with this...they don't love it...but they all did when they were babies and still being spoon-fed. Ignorance is bliss :-).

God bless your table tonight!

1 comment:

Ginkgo100 said...

I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The boys are not so sure. My 2yo was pretending to order pizza on his toy phone while I was cooking, so I think I lost him even before he took the first bite.