Lentil, rice and lima bean pilaf
So who says a pilaf must be made of rice alone? Not me! Well, actually, I pretty much did say that, but in the mood for a hearty, warming dinner-in-a-dish tonight, it suddenly occurred to me that basmati rice and red lentils cook in about the same length of time, so why not cook them together in a pilaf-style mix? Add a scoop of lima beans, and we might have something pretty good here.
Sure enough, it was both good and easy, and came around, including all prep and cooking time, in about 45 minutes.
I started with 1/2 cup of red lentils and 1/2 cup of basmati rice, each thoroughly rinsed and soaked in clear water for 15 minutes or so while I did the rest of the prep.
Then I sliced 1/2 of a sweet onion thin, and minced about 4 garlic cloves and a 1-inch chunk of fresh peeled ginger. I browned the onion very well in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a wok-like nonstick pan, then added the garlic, ginger, a shake of dried red-pepper flakes and a grind of black pepper, a tablespoon each of tomato paste and chopped green chiles and maybe 1/2 cup water to deglaze. Do not add salt at this point: Lentils do best if we don't salt them until they are fully cooked!
When this combination is well mixed, drain the rice, put it in, and stir over medium heat until it's parched. Add 3 cups water, bring to a simmer; then add the lentils, stir, bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, un-covered, on a medium simmer for 10 minutes or so. Then add 3/4 cup thawed frozen lima beans, stir, and continue simmering until the rice and lentils are just cooked, adding a little more water if necessary.
Serve, garnished with cilantro, parsley or scallions if you like.