How to make lentils and rice taste good
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Do I really need to wash my lentils?
Yes! Lentils are dusty and dirty, and even though you are going to submerge them in boiling water, you should rinse them first. Rinsing them ensures that you are not cooking them in dusty, dirty water. More importantly, washing them gives you a chance to look through them. Lentil shaped rocks can get into the mix. This is especially important with green lentils. Green lentils look so much like rocks themselves, you could accidentally bite into a rock. So, unless you love your dentist, wash your lentils!
A delicious cheap meal for the new economy
Lentils are the original source of cheap protein. For that reason they are beloved around the world. Combined with rice, they can make a filling meal for less than a $1/ serving. The only problem is that if not prepared well, lentils and rice can taste as plain as their price suggests. These tips should spice them up.
Tip 1: Cook them in chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians). This is the best technique for bringing more flavor to the dish. If you find prepared broth to expensive, I find broth paste (Better than Bouillon) works well. Or if you are very industrious you can make your own broth. Try this hub if you're interested in that.
Tip 2: Spices, spices, spices. You can hardly go wrong in spicing your lentils and rice. Just be sure to stay consistent. I recommend mustard seed, crushed red pepper, and curry. Or, for a more Caribbean feel, cloves and allspice. If spicy is not your thing or you like a more familiar flavor, toast garlic until brown in 2 Tsp of olive oil and mix them into your cooked lentils and rice.
Tip 3: Add vegetables. The classic additions to this meal are onions and sliced carrots. Potatoes go well. Be sure that if you go with a more delicate vegetable such as cauliflower that you cook it separately so it doesn't kill the vegetable.
Tip 4: Add peas. I know peas are a vegetable, so I could have talked about them above, but peas are worth their own tip. Take a can of sweet peas, drain them and add during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Sweet peas add a touch of sweetness to the lentils that is unbeatable. It doesn't overpower any of the complexity of the spice as sugar or honey would. It just adds a touch.
All of these tips enhance the meal without raising the cost. A pot of this can serve a huge number for a tiny price. Enjoy.
Lentils with Meat
I recommend cooking your lentils separately from whatever meat you pair with it, but once they are done, it tastes great to mix meat in with your lentils to make a hearty meal.
Bacon Bits and Lentils
Bacon makes a great addition to lentils because it provides some fat and salt to the equation. For easiest preparation cook the bacon in the microwave between paper towels. If you cook the bacon in a skillet, you can add a little of the fat to the lentils to make them a little warmer in the belly.
Chicken Thighs and Legs with Lentils
Preseason the chicken with salt. Place them skin side up on a baking pan and cook at 475 until the skin is crispy and the interior is a safe temperature. Place this thigh on a bed of rice and lentils.
Crock Pot Chuck Roast and Lentils
Make a crock pot beef or pork roast and serve it shredded over the rice and lentils.