Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Papa Can You Hear Me? It's me, Lentil.

That was my shout out to "Yentl" Hey, you try to come up with a catchy post title every time.

I made this delicious side Lentil and Rice Salad with swordfish this summer. I think it's a perfect match for any grilled fish because it complements the flavors of the fish, especially if you squeeze fresh lemon juice on it. The salad has a light citrus flavor due to the parsley and lemon zest.

Lentil and Rice Salad

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/4 cups dried green lentils

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus 2 cups

1 bay leaf

1 cup long-grain white rice

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils. Add 2 1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, bring the remaining 2 cups broth and bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and return the broth to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes (do not stir the rice as it cooks). Remove the saucepan from the heat. Fluff the rice with a large fork. Transfer to the bowl with the lentils. Add the olives, parsley, thyme, and lemon peel. Toss the rice mixture with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to coat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

I adore this recipe because it looks like a lot of work, but it really takes no time at all. The "hardest" work you will do is chopping the carrot, onion and garlic. I think this entire dish, prep and all takes 30 minutes.

  • A wonderful tip I learned from L'academie du Cusine ( is regarding the rice. First, always make rice with chicken broth rather than water. It just plain tastes better, no matter what recipe you're doing. Especially if you're serving the rice alone. Please promise me you'll try it once. You'll never go back to doing it the old way again! Okay, here's the big tip from the cooking school. When you're chicken broth starts to boil and you put the rice in the saucepan at the moment you would usually turn the heat down to simmer, DON'T. Instead take it off the stove and put it in the oven at 400F for 17 minutes EXACTLY. The rice will soak up the liquid completely and not burn. The best part of it is that it's off the stovetop and you'll have room to do other things. You won't have to keep checking on it's status. Just don't forget it to take it out at the 17 minute mark!

  • Back to this recipe, when using lemons, limes or oranges for zesting purposes, try to buy organic fruit. Since you're eating the outside of the fruit, it's not a bad idea to enjoy it pesticide-free.

  • By the way, I have never tried this recipe with olives. I would be willing to, but my husband doesn't like them. Oh well. If you try it, tell me how it is.

  • Lastly, anytime you're using oil as a dressing, like in this dish, go for a best quality you have the pantry. It really does make a difference.

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