Magic Lentils and Rice (with vegetables)
My good friend Corey has this amazing chicken and rice dish that she makes whenever anyone isn’t feeling well – like matzo ball soup for Jews (no comment on the amount of matzo meal currently in my pantry). She had given me some of the leftovers from one of her batches. One bite to try turned into an empty bowl about 2 minutes later. She calls it arroz caldo. I call it magic chicken and rice.
She gave me her list of ingredients and approximate measurements which I ran with. This is what I ended up with. I’m still convinced, however, that she left out an ingredient or two to keep it semi-secret.
This dish starts with half a large onion, a whole head of garlic, and about 3 inches of ginger. Yes, a whole head of garlic and 3 inches of fresh ginger. You will definitely be feeling the spice! Finely mince it all together. Or, my preference, put everything in the food processor and pulse until it is finely chopped. But stop before it gets to the pureed point.
While you are chopping things, break half a head of cauliflower and one bunch of kale into small, bite-sized pieces. These are ingredients that I added on top of Corey’s recipe to make it a complete, one-pot meal. A bag of frozen, chopped spinach (thawed and drained) also works well, feel free to use whatever you have on hand.
Heat a large, wide pot or pan (you need it to be able to hold all the ingredients plus about 7 cups of liquid) over medium heat and add in a glug or two of olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes or so.
Add one heaping teaspoon of turmeric (or a pinch of saffron, crumbled), the chopped cauliflower, one cup of red lentils (rinsed and picked through), and one cup of glutinous (sticky) or arborio rice. I’ve only made this with arborio rice but Corey says glutinous rice is even better. Stir to combine.
Pour in 6 cups of veggie or chicken broth or water with a good pinch of salt. Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. This isn’t quite like risotto where you have to stir continuously, but you do want to give it a few quick stirs every few minutes. This helps activate all the starch in the rice and make the sauce creamy. Add more liquid as needed. I usually end up adding an extra cup or two or so by the end.
Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and the lentils have started to become mushy – you want this to be a porridge consistency. Stir in the kale and cook for another few minutes. Finish with the juice of 1 lemon (about 3 – 4 tablespoons) and a couple of grinds of pepper.
There are a lot of additional options for finishing this dish. Corey suggests chopped scallions, a hard or soft boiled egg, crispy chicken skins, and an extra lemon wedge. I’ve also added chopped chives and a fried egg. It would also be good topped with crispy tofu (or bacon I imagine, but I don’t eat it). Or you can leave it plain and eat as is. Enjoy!
Magic Lentils and Rice (with Vegetables)
- ½ large onion
- 1 head of garlic
- 3 inch piece of ginger
- ½ head of cauliflower
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1 cup arborio or glutinous (sticky) rice
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 6 – 7 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water with a good pinch or two of salt)
- juice of 1 lemon
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Finely mince the onion, ginger, and garlic (a food processor works very well here). Cut the cauliflower and tear the kale into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a glug of olive oil. When hot, add the minced onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the turmeric, chopped cauliflower, lentils, and rice and stir to combine. Add 6 cups of broth and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Stir every few minutes, adding a little more liquid as needed.
- Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, until the rice and lentils are tender. There will still be liquid, but it will be creamy with a porridge consistancy. Stir in the kale and cook for another few minutes.
- Finish with the lemon juice and a few grinds of pepper. This can be eaten as is or be finished with chopped scallions, a hard or soft boiled egg, crispy chicken skins, crispy tofu, bacon, etc. Enjoy!