023 -- Sweet and Savory Mediterranean Lentils and Rice

I was looking for something 'nutritious and delicious' for lunch this week. This recipe from the AHA Cookbook promised me a sweet and savory combination that would delight so I was intrigued. Plus, it involved a 'new' ingredient for the cooking repertoire -- lentils. I've had them before, just never actually cooked with them.

2 tbl oil
1 onion, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 small can crushed tomatoes (undrained)
2.5 cups water
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/3 cup dried currants
feta cheese

In a nonstick pan cook oil, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and onion over medium heat. This will seem like aromatherapy.

Add lentils and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes.

Add tomatoes and juice, water, rice, and currants. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes until rice is tender. Serve with feta sprinkled on top. Makes 4 servings

Since this was lunch it went from pan to Tupperware. Don't you love my beautiful picture that was taken at my desk the other day! Thank you camera phone. I was a little worried about this one. When I finished cooking it I took a little tidbit as a taste test and it seemed like the cayenne was a bit much for me. Since this was not the first time I had this reaction recently, I decided I might need to a) buy new cayenne -- perhaps mine has increased in heat with age, or b) start using reduced amounts of cayenne in recipes again -- I used to do this when I had full on yankee tongue after growing up in the salt house. Turns out, it was ok. Perhaps the heat was just actual heat from the stove :) Or maybe the cayenne mellowed in the fridge. Either way, this was a total winner and repeat worthy. The lentils and rice were really filling -- I could barely finish it. The currants and tomatoes gave it nice texture and I loved the sweet/savory combo of cinnamon and currants/onions and cayenne. I really can't say enough about this one!

I can also say that now, not only do I feel totally comfortable cooking/eating lentils, but I no longer fear currants. I actually lost the fear over Christmas when Dad made lemon-currant coffee cake from grandma's recipe (Dad, if you are reading this I need her recipe). Until then I had major currant fear. I thought they were some sort of gross icky dried fruit that i associated with fruit cake and nothing else. Then padre let us in on a secret, they are just little raisins. Mystery solved. New food for the cupboard :)

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