Monday, March 31, 2008

Sometimes fewer is better

I was looking through my cookbooks for a new lentil recipe this morning, something quick that I could finish in the hour I have to kill between getting up and eating breakfast, and found a terrific recipe for rice and lentils in the Dad's Own Cookbook: Everything Your Mother Never Taught You, by Bob Sloan. It's just a handful of ingredients: a bit of oil, onions, water or broth, lentils, rice, salt, and cumin.

You saute the sliced onions in the oil while cooking the lentils part-way, then dump the cooked onions, the cumin, the salt, and the raw rice onto the cooking lentils for another 20 minutes. I was pretty sure from reading the recipe that it would taste fine, although I was imagining it with something else: chopped tomatoes or a cucumber and parsley salad to brighten up the flavors.

It doesn't need it! It's a deep, satisfying bowl of goodness; I had some with my lunch and I'm still shocked at how good it was for such a simple dish. It's not soup, it's a pilaf, but interesting beyond the simplicity of the ingredients list. Hard to ruin: you're supposed to cook the onions until they're almost burnt, and I'm sure that's where a lot of the flavor comes from. I put in more cumin than the recipe suggested because I like cumin, and I know from previous experience with this recipe book that the herbs and spices are underdone for my taste (it's food meant for children, after all, and many people think children only like bland things).

And now I have a another delicious dish in my repertoire, although as usual I'm going to resist the urge to have it again soon, so I don't burn out on the pleasure.


Kami said...

I'd love to learn what the proportions are! I'm a big fan of lentils and this sounds delicious.

Kai Jones said...

Sure. It's 2 tablespoons oil, 3 medium onions, 3.5 cups water or broth, 1 cup each lentils and rice, and 1 teaspoon each cumin and salt (although I used 2 teasp. cumin).

Bring the water or broth to a boil, add the lentils, lower the heat, cook 15 minutes; while that's happening brown the onions nice and dark/sweet. Dump the onions and remaining ingredients onto the lentils at the 15 minute mark and cook covered on low for another 20.