Rice lentil polou redux.

With a temporary move from our Middletown apartment coming up at the end of the summer, one of the things I had been trying to do before I left for Ithaca was to try and whittle down the enormous stock of dry goods we’ve accumulated over the course of the past few years. These are mostly beans, lentils, rice, and other grains and legumes, stored neatly in our kitchen cupboard in mason jars.

So, a month and a half or so ago, I started flipping through my cookbooks to try to find good beans-and-grains recipes that would help make a dent in this enormous stash. Laurel’s Kitchen came through, as it so often does, with a recipe for rice lentil polou, whose provenance is not really explained, but which reminds me most strongly of Persian food.

As is usually the case, I took some liberties with the recipe from the beginning. The original calls for rice, onion, olive oil, lentils, cinnamon, tomato paste, water, salt, raisins, and almonds. It’s very simple: saute chopped onion in oil, add rice, stir; then add a mixture of water, tomato paste, and cinnamon, followed by the lentils; cook for a while, then add raisins, nuts, and salt and bake or simmer for a while longer. But I wanted a more complete meal than this seemed to offer, something with veggies as well. I had some carrots that needed using, so I grated a couple and threw them in before baking. This proved not only delicious, but colorful as well.

I made this dish again two days ago, and made another addition: kale. I added this a little later than the carrots, so that it wouldn’t overcook, though I might even add it later than I did, so as to maintain its bright green color and toothsomeness.  Here’s what the recipe might look like now with my modifications.

Rice Lentil Polou with Carrots and Kale
adapted from Laurel’s Kitchen

1 onion, chopped
1 T. oil
1 c. uncooked brown rice
1 T. tomato paste
2.5 c water or stock
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. uncooked lentils, rinsed
1-2 carrots, grated or sliced very thin
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. sliced almonds
salt to taste
1/2 bunch kale, de-ribbed and chopped coarsely

In a large stovetop-and-oven-safe casserole, saute onion in oil til soft. Add rice and stir for several minutes. Combine tomato paste with water and cinnamon. Add this mixture, along with the lentils, to the rice. Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Stir the salt, carrots, raisins, and nuts into the rice mixture, which should still have a little water; if not, add more. Cover and bake for 20-30 minutes, adding kale 5 minutes or so before the end.  (You can also finish the dish by simmering on the stovetop till done.)  If desired, garnish with additional raisins and nuts.  Serves 4-6.

This dish is a particularly good leftover-lunch, as it is tasty cold or hot, travels well, and tastes even better the second day.  One of my new favorite one-pot meals!

I welcome your favorite recipes for beans-and-grains cooking.  There’s still a lot left in the cupboard.


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