Brown rice & lentils with lemon
Spring is such an exciting season with all the signs of new life, green leaves and blossoming flowers. The same is true for the range of veggies and herbs that becomes available during these months. I always feel inspired to use them as often as possible. It’s also a time when many of us start to put warm soups and stews on the back burner and rather opt for lighter, fresher meals.
This vegetarian brown rice and lentil dish is a great way to be creative with different young green veggies. Not only does it add bulk, but also lots of interesting textures, colours and healthy vitamins and minerals. When brown rice and lentils are combined, they form a complete protein, so even if there is no meat, it’s still filling and nutritious. Brown basmati rice has a lovely nutty flavour, perfect for this recipe, but ordinary brown rice will also be good.
I’ve said it before, but it remains a big food truth – when you combine a few basic ingredients which really complement one another, a delightful synergy of flavours is created, with little more needed to create an appetising meal. Lentils have quite a neutral flavour, but are great at absorbing other flavours. The lemony dressing with mint is perfect to season the lentils and rice and just as delicious with the green veggies. To round it all off, pair the lemony flavour with a soft cheese like goat’s cheese, ricotta or even feta. Enjoy it as a vegetarian meal, starchy side or even as an alternative salad with a braai.
As published in The Muse, October 2017
Brown rice & lentils with lemon & mint
Serves 4 – 6
A light, vegetarian summer meal or a delicious and healthy side dish.
125 ml (100 g) uncooked brown lentils
125 ml (100 g) uncooked brown basmati rice
salt and pepper to taste
100-150 g broccoli, cut into florets
250 ml (1 cup) fresh or frozen peas, rinsed
100 ml fresh mint leaves
100 g goat’s cheese (chevin), feta or ricotta cheese or even pecorino shavings
60 ml (¼ cup) avocado or olive oil
25 ml (5 tsp) white wine or grape vinegar
15 ml (1 tbsp) finely grated lemon rind
45 ml (3 tbsp) lemon juice
5 ml (1 tsp) honey
30 ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped fresh mint
salt and pepper to taste
1. Salad: Place lentils, rice and a pinch of salt in a saucepan with 625 ml (2½ cups) cold water (an AMC 20 cm High works well). Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until cooked, but not too soft. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Salad dressing: Mix all the salad dressing ingredients together and season to taste.
3. Place broccoli in a shallow dish and cover with boiling water. Allow to stand for about 10-15 minutes or until just cooked and drain. (Alternatively, simmer gently in a small amount of water, until just bright green and still crispy, take care not to overcook the broccoli.)
4. Arrange cooked lentils, rice and broccoli on a salad platter or individual plates with the rest of the salad ingredients. Serve with the salad dressing as a vegetarian meal or starchy side dish.
1. To make this a non-vegetarian meal, add cooked chicken or bacon to the salad.