Tuesday, March 31, 2009

In general, I don't really like it when serious bloggers tell me what they've been making for dinner. I don't know why, but it kind of bugs me.

That, of course, means that I'm going to share what I had for dinner last night!

My friend Celeste gave me some lentils last week, when she realized with horror that I've never cooked with them before. Trying to figure out what to do, I remembered a dish that I ate quite frequently my first year of college. A brown rice and lentil "casserole." I ate it all the time because it was the only vegetarian meal option that my dorm dining hall offered, and at the time I didn't eat meat.

Anyway, a quick google search resulted in a very simple recipe that sounded similar. Brown rice and lentil casserole, with a cheese topping. The recipe couldn't be simpler.

Combine in a baking dish:
3/4 C Lentils
1/2 C Brown Rice
3/4 C Chopped Onion (that was about 1/2 of a medium-large onion)
3 C Chicken Broth (or whatever other broth you like)
Some Garlic (they recommended garlic powder, I crushed a couple of cloves of fresh)
1 t Italian Seasoning
**I added 2 small zucchini, quartered the long way and chopped**

The recipe recommends 1 C grated cheddar sprinkled on top. The accompanying picture made that look pretty gloppy and gross, so I substituted freshly grated Parmesan. I think I actually used a little more than a cup, but my microplane grater makes the cheese shreds so fluffy that it's probably a lot less (in terms of mass) than cheddar would have been.

Cover with foil and bake at 300 degrees for 1hr 10min, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes (if you're doing parmesan, you might want to bake for an hour and 20 minutes, then take the top off for 10, so that the parm doesn't burn).

The results:
The flavor was really good, and I particularly liked that the parmesan and lentil flavors complimented each other. I have always had trouble cooking brown rice, though, and this was no exception. Even after all that time, the rice was pretty hard still. I think that I got brown basmati, this time around, but since I got it from the bulk bins (either from Berkeley Bowl or Star Grocery, I can't remember), there are no cooking directions. Oh, and also our oven is a pitiful immitation of an oven, so that might have something to do with it....
When I make it again, I will likely add more liquid.

If one wanted, I think that carrots would taste good in it. Boyfriend would prefer mushrooms, but he'll have to cook it himself on other premises if he wants those nasty things. If one wanted a heartier, meatier flavor, I'm sure some chopped bacon or pancetta would be really good. It might get a little soggy, though......

Tonight is another casserole night. This time it's an old favorite of ours. "Cacciatore Style Chicken Bake" is chicken, red and green bell peppers, a little onion and tomato sauce in a baking dish with bread crumb topping. This is a perfect outlet for Trader Joe's "Starter Sauce," which is tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil. Nothing else. I cuised it so that it was smoother, and sturred in some (lots of) oregano and salt and pepper. I use whole wheat bread for crumbs, and I mixed some parmesan into the topping.

I don't know if we'll continue the "All Casseroles All the Time" trend this week.....it could be fun. I've got several more in my recipe file.


Maggie Jochild said...

I used to not be able to stand mushrooms. I was able to force myself to "get over it", not sure how. Haven't been able to do the same with olives, whose texture and fleshy flavor make me hurl, although olive oil is my preferred oil.

I also forced myself, one by one, to start loving green beans, broccoli, cabbage, and beets. They are so crisp and wholesome, and so good for you. Turnips, on the other hand, I think I can go on living without.

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