Lentils and rice go together perfectly in my eyes. I could honestly eat lentils daily, but I don’t think that would fly with my family. The lentils I’m referring to here are French lentils, a classic variety in the culinary world. They are greenish-brown, petite, earthy, and delicious—and that’s how I feel about them before I add the crispy onions. Lentils have been part of the human diet since Neolithic times, and remarkably, there is archeological evidence showing that these popular legumes were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago.
French lentils are known as “lentilles du Puy,” a term that can only be used to designate lentils that come from Le Puy-en-Velay in the Auvergne region of France. Earthy and more mineral-tasting than regular lentils, these babies cook up faster and retain a nice firm texture. (Red or brown lentils tend to break down in the cooking process.) Lentils, for those who don’t know, are considered quite healthful, offering plenty of essential nutrients, and are linked to various potential to health benefits. Let’s break that down a bit more. One cup of cooked lentils contains 16 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat, negligible saturated fat and no cholesterol. Lentils are also loaded with folic acid and iron, making these tasty legumes a go-to in my diet.
The primary issue with lentils is that people don’t know how to cook them or flavor them properly. Lentils alone are a bit bland. But proper cooking and the addition of just the right ingredients can make you a life-time lentil eater. If you liked my riced cauliflower with leeks, you may like this dish as well. In this dish, I have added brown rice for texture. I have also added lots of flavor with the use of fresh sage (don’t use the dried stuff in this recipe), parsley, lemon juice and let’s not forget the sweet-yet-salty crispy red onions.
Balancing the texture is the key to making a lentil dish memorable. The correct amount of salt and pepper alone make a remarkable difference. But what elevates a bowl of lentils further is the sweet crunch of the onions. This simple recipe is vegetarian and vegan friendly. Although it can work well as a side dish to almost anything, it is also fabulous on its own, which is exactly how I like it. Served hot or cold, this is one of my favorite dishes anytime of year.
Lentils And Rice With Crispy Onions And Sage
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 4 cups cold water
- 1 small red onion, peeled, trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Wondra flour
- vegetable oil, for frying.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional for seasoning onions
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely minced
- 1/2 cup packed parsley, finely chopped
- Step 1 Place the cooked brown rice in a large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Step 2 Rinse the lentils in cold water, drain and place in a medium stockpot. Add the 4 cups of cold water. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer till al dente, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Once cool, add the lentils to the brown rice and reserve.
- Step 3 Place the Wonder flour in a small bowl. Working in batches, lightly coat the onion slices, shaking off any excess flour as you go. Line a plate with paper towels and set aside.
- Step 4 Add a good amount of vegetable oil to a large sauté pan and place over high heat. When hot, but not smoking, working in batches, add some of the floured onions, but not too much to overcrowd the pan. Lightly fry the onions till beginning to turn golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, gently turn the onions and cook for an additional few minutes. Drain the onions on the prepared plate. Repeat this process with the remaining onions till they are all fried. Lightly salt the onions reserve.
- Step 5 Using a spatula mix the lentils and brown rice. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, salt parsley, black pepper, sage and parsley. Mix well and adjust the seasoning as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.