I’m a bit of a hypocrite. I love animals. I also love meat. I’m always trying to find new recipes using less meat, partly for health but mostly because ethically produced meat costs a lot and should be used sparingly. Mark Bittman, in his new role as food crusader, has a huge collection of recipes addressing just this dilemma.
Bittman’s recipe for lentils and rice makes an excellent compromise. It’s not particularly meaty but the sausage adds great, robust flavour. You can replace some of the water with tinned tomatoes and garnish with some cheese if you want an even heartier dinner.
Adapted from Mark Bittman
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2-4 pork and fennel sausages, meat removed from casings
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 1 cup long-grain brown rice
- 3 or 4 bay leaves
- 4 cups of water
- Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Put the oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add onion, celery, carrot and meat, if using. Cook until vegetables begin to become tender and meat begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and some salt and pepper and cook for another minute or two.
- Add lentils, rice, bay leaves and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat so liquid bubbles gently, and cover.
- After 30 minutes, if rice and lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready. If lentils and rice are not tender, add enough liquid to keep bottom of pot moist, cover and cook for a few more minutes. If rice and lentils are soft and there is much liquid remaining (which is unlikely), raise heat a bit and cook, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until it evaporates. Discard bay leaves. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, fluff with a fork and serve, garnished with parsley and drizzled with more olive oil.