Tag Archives: lentils

Easy Lentil and Rice Pilaf – microwave OR slow cooker recipe

Easy rice and lentil pilaf recipe slow cooker microwave joy makin' mamasI have always loved those rice pilaf mixes that come in a box. The ones with rice and pasta or rice and another grain, that come pre-seasoned. You know the ones! They are easy to make and they go well with lots of foods. Unfortunately, they tend to be really high in sodium, the price per pound is shocking unless you have a coupon, and when I was a vegetarian, they were out of the question entirely. (And if you have food allergies? Forget it!) I have spent years trying to come up with a simple, vegetarian recipe that was every bit as delicious as the box without any of the added expense. I’ve made things that were delicious, but complicated. I found vegetarian products that were even more expensive. I conducted a lot of recipe trials that were best described as disappointing. Finally, with help from my mini crock, I have done it! I made a rice and lentil pilaf that I love every bit as much as any other pilaf side dish I’ve ever tried. The ingredients are inexpensive, it goes together quickly, and cleanup is a snap. The slow cooker version can be set up ahead of time to be ready at dinner, so you can give your full attention to the main dish. I will probably never buy the box mix again, even on sale, since I have limited storage space and I always have rice and lentils on hand.

When my husband and I were a family of two, I loved the mini crock for making smaller meals with all the convenience of my big crock pot. Since he is one of those people who don’t like leftovers (I don’t understand it either) it worked out to be easier for me to make smaller portions than to try and figure out what to do with the rest of a full size recipe. I also cooked smaller quantities when I lived alone, because even though I personally LOVE leftovers, there’s a limit. I sort of thought that once I moved on to cooking for a family of four, my mini crock would languish, unloved, in my pantry- but that hasn’t been the case. The mini crock has been an unfailing convenience for side dishes. I also sometimes deploy it for something that I know only my husband and I will eat- making a smaller amount and integrating it into our dinner plans means we don’t have to stop eating those foods or endure a picky eater rebellion when we just want to enjoy something spicy. It is also the perfect size for keeping dips warm at parties. I can definitely say that my mini crock has turned out to be a surprise star in my convenient-family-cooking lineup.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Rice Pilaf
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • Pinch salt
  • 3.5 cups vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over lentils.
  2. Add all ingredients to mini-crock. Stir well.
  3. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low, until rice and beans are tender.

Don’t have one? you can get one:

Rival 2 Quart Slow Cooker Crock Pot, White with Tempered Glass Top {Aff link}
Rival 2 Quart Slow Cooker Crock Pot, White with Tempered Glass Top {Aff link}

or, if you don’t think a mini crock is right for your kitchen, you can make this in the microwave in a 2 quart stoneware casserole. (We all have to be selective. Much as I would love to own every tool and gadget known to humankind, I find that I have to edit, because one kitchen only holds so much.) You can use a glass casserole if that’s all you have, but I’ve found that the ceramic and stoneware casseroles do a better job of making microwaved food taste like it was cooked on the stove or in the oven, and avoid the “microwaved” pitfalls like chewy meats or overdone grains.Easy rice and lentil pilaf microwave process shot Joy Makin' Mamas

Microwave Lentil and Rice Pilaf
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 6
 
I made this in my Kitchenaid 1.9 Quart ceramic casserole and in my Pampered Chef Round Covered Baker for test purposes. You could use any stoneware casserole of a similar size.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over lentils.
  2. Combine brown rice, lentils, canola oil, parsley flakes, and dried onion. Stir well.
  3. Add vegetable broth and salt.
  4. Microwave on high 16 minutes, stirring every 4-6 minutes. Check for doneness. If there is still a great deal of liquid in the casserole, microwave in 2 minute increments until it is mostly absorbed.
  5. Let stand, covered, for four minutes. Nearly all liquid should be absorbed.
Notes
The slow cooker version needs more liquid because of the longer cooking time. The reason I can't give you a single, firm cooking time is because microwave power varies, and mine is fairly low power. If you have a high power microwave, I recommend you do the initial cook for 8 minutes and test it every two to four minutes until you arrive at the right time for your microwave.

 

KitchenAid KBLR19CRBF Streamline Ceramic 1.9-Quart Casserole Bakeware
KitchenAid KBLR19CRBF Streamline Ceramic 1.9-Quart Casserole Bakeware {Aff Link}

Sorry, honey, I’m busy exploding dinner.

Have you read this Consumer Reports article about Pyrex dishes? To sum up: Newer glass cookware is made from a different (cheaper) type of glass that doesn’t withstand thermal shock as well as Grandma’s Pyrex dishes did. Also? Using damaged glass dishes, (meaning scratched or chipped) increases the danger of failure. (And by failure, they mean KERBLOOEY.)

I had never been told (or had completely forgotten) that you should never, ever, ever use Pyrex that is scratched or chipped to cook with. (I’m not sure what else one would use it for… paint palette? Paperweight? It’s not recyclable, so I guess someone is going to have to come up with a brilliant idea. Is it you? Please share.)

Look at what I’ve been using to cook dinner for my family for about… oh, the entire time I’ve had a family.Damaged glass baking dishes are not safe Joy Makin Mamas

I know. This (or worse) could totally have happened to me:

exploding pyrex Flickr Shane Ede
Let’s order pizza. And buy a new oven.

So when KitchenAid sent me these ceramic casseroles (the Streamline Ceramic 1.9 quart, and the Nesting Ceramic 4 piece set) to test out in exchange for my honest and explosion-free feedback, I breathed a sigh of relief. Because one recommendation for avoiding the danger of glass failure is to use ceramic casseroles instead. So they are safer, number one. Number two: they are so pretty! And- guess what? These five dishes take up less room than my three old ones in my cabinets. Since I have a small, mid-century kitchen and two very destructive boys, shelf space is at a premium- especially up high for breakables. I know, we’re only a little way into this and I’ve already detailed at least two precautions I’ve taken against my children being injured by shattered cookery. The world is a dangerous place.Kitchenaid ceramic casserole dishes review Joy Makin Mamas
Since I’ve seen first hand how long-lived KitchenAid products are, I expect that these will outstrip their five year warranty by a lot. After all, the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother bought when I was a kid- and which inspired the purchase of my own, beloved stand mixer- is still chugging along without a single hiccup. And considering how much my mother uses it, I’ve basically just told you that it will never die. I really like that the handle with the recessed bottom makes it easy to hang onto these casseroles. I have (soon will have to say, “used to have”) a set of ceramic casseroles that have two sizes with no handles and one size with very small, smooth handles. I am constantly afraid I will drop them on the way out of the oven. It’s just awkward to lift them when they are full of heavy food, and the last thing I want to do after I’ve prepared a delicious dish for my family is drop it and splatter it all over the kitchen. If I just want to get takeout, I don’t have to work that hard.

Now. You know I cannot just show you some pretty casserole dishes and call it a day. That would be like returning a borrowed plate without any cookies on it. (I’m not a complete barbarian. I may cut corners on party planning, but there are certain things that just don’t call for compromises.)

I was a vegetarian for over eight years, and I still have close family members who are vegetarian. All our family dinners go both ways- with vegetarian options and omnivorous ones. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian cook is the fact that once you take Canned Cream of Something soup out of the equation, your easy, one dish, comfort meal options disappear. I personally like to create vegetarian casseroles that do well as the center dish or that coordinate with traditional holiday dishes, and this Cranberry Barley Casserole (with a vegan variation for my dairy free friends) would be delicious alongside your Thanksgiving feast.

barley casserole recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Cranberry Barley Vegetarian Casserole
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Serves: 8
 
This vegetarian casserole with vegan variations can be the star of the show next to a green vegetable or salad, or join a buffet of options for every dietary preference. The tart cranberries make a nice contrast to the other flavors, and the barley and lentils give plenty of texture. (No mushy casseroles for us!)
Ingredients
  • 2 shallots sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 2½ cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup unsweetened or low sugar dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the inside of a 1.9 quart casserole dish with lid.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots, fennel, sesame seeds, paprika, and garlic to the pan and sautee until the shallots are translucent. This only takes a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the barley and lentils. Stir until the contents are well mixed.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil.
  6. Stir in cranberries and transfer to the casserole.
  7. Bake covered for 30 mintues.
  8. Remove cover, top with cheese, and bake for 15 more minutes.
Notes
To make this dish vegan, use canola oil and a pinch of salt in place of the butter. Instead of cheddar cheese, pulse ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds and ¼ cup nutritional yeast together in your food processor until the texture looks like coarse crumbs, and use as a topping.

Cranberry Barley Casserole Recipe Joy Makin Mamas