I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I think that humans are basically omnivores and so that is what I am. I even flirt with a Weston A. Price diet which is somewhat doable or a paleolithic diet which is not because I love peanut butter (natural, of course) and milk (and yogurt) too much.
Oh, forgot to mention that I am also a recovering bread addict…well, carb addict in general. Simple carbs do bad things to me, like make me want to eat lots more simple carbs. “No one can eat just one, no one can, no one can eat just one Lay’s brand potato chip” kind of want to eat more carbs. So, it is safer for me to not eat a lot of carbs and make sure all the ones I do eat are whole grains or from fruits/veggies. So, while I am not a vegetarian, I like to find novel and yummy ways to serve veggies, beans, and whole grains as a part of my omnivorous diet.
At a church potluck recently, one of the other members, JoBeth, brought a lentil and brown rice casserole that my girls liked. She said it is so easy to make; it is baked in the oven. She quickly rattled off the basics of the recipe and I went home and looked online for a proper recipe for it, since I don’t like to “wing it” the first time I make a new dish. The closest I found to what she described is this: LessMeat’s “Oven Baked Lentils and Brown Rice” which is based on one from Zonya’s Health Bites Zonya’s Oven Baked Lentils and Rice.
I have made it twice now with slight variations and all four of my kindergarteners liked it both times. The variations were mainly based on what veggies were in the fridge that day, so feel free to experiment. Of course, I had to tweak the recipes above a bit, mainly to add a bit more veggies and here is my latest recipe:
Easy Oven Baked Lentils and Brown Rice
2 small onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounces chicken broth (or used veggie broth to make it vegetarian)
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed and picked over for stones
1 cup dry brown rice (not quick cooking)
4-5 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 cup chopped zucchini or yellow squash
1/2 can of either tomato paste or sauce
1-2 Tbsp of whatever fat you think is healthy (butter, coconut oil, ghee, peanut oil, olive oil, canola oil, you decide)
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1-2 teaspoons of sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper to taste
To up the protein content (but will obviously not be veg) you can add about 1 cup of leftover cooked chicken, chopped, but totally optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients together in large greased baking dish and bake covered, for 90-120 mins. Yes, it takes that long, but you don’t have to do anything except wait.
Variation: As I searched online for a recipe, I came across lots of lentil and rice recipes with different spice combinations. Apparently, there is even a Lebanese dish called Mjadra or Mujadara that is similar. I even found this link to a stove-top mujadara recipe using a homemade Moroccan spice blend…the spice blend sounds very good. So, here are some possible substitutions for the Italian-style basil/oregano/thyme spices in the above recipe.
Indian verison – Use curry powder or garam masala instead of the original spices.
Middle Eastern version – Use cumin/cinnamon/cloves instead of the original spices.
Or maybe use cumin/chili powder/tumeric. What about finding a way to incorporate smoked paprika, which is ridiculously yummy. Can you think of a way to make it Asian? Maybe ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil?
Sorry, no picture today. 😦