Friday, July 18, 2014

persian lentils and brown rice with mint



I have been having a bit of a fling with mint recently. I can't believe that I have overlooked what it brings to dishes beyond the obvious combination with chocolate. I have been meaning to share recipes for several salads for (obviously) weeks now. This salad is one that I made three times in 10 days and really didn't bother to take a good pic of any one of those times. I apologize. With all the beautiful food photography scattered all over every site it seems like a mark of disrespect to offer anything less but although I would eat this salad three times a week pretty much all summer, mine is not the only palate to please in our house. David loved it too but he loves variety even more, so I have reluctantly moved on - minus a decent photo - and agreed to rest this salad for at least a bit. Sad really because it is tasty, easy, and has the quiet virtue of being inexpensive. 

The combo of brown rice and lentils creates a complete protein. The addition of greens is obvious but the mint makes the salad much more interesting than one anticipates from the unassuming appearance. It changes character slightly when saved overnight but it is by no means a change for the worse. A big bowl of this nicely feeds a crowd at a BBQ or picnic or waits patiently in the fridge for a few days of lunches for an intimate twosome. 

I found the recipe in a publication that I used to read faithfully when I was young and newly wed but have ignored for years now for publications that are ... shinier. Shame on me for forgetting old friends - I have recently discovered that there is plenty on offer within. 

persian lentils & brown rice with mint
(adapted from Family Circle magazine)

1/2 cup brown jasmine rice (uncooked)
2/3 cup red lentils
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses*
3/4 tsp sea salt
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh mint, sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta

Cook rice as per package directions or (if you have one) use your trusty rice cooker on the brown rice setting. While the rice is cooking bring some water to a boil in a medium size pot. Add the lentils, return to a boil and cook for 6 minutes. (This is a good time to use a timer because you don't want mushy overcooked lentils here.) You are also going to want to watch it carefully because it will get foamy and boil over if you take your eye off it for long. When the timer goes off drain the lentils and rinse under cold water for a few minutes until they are cool. Add the cooled lentils and cooked rice to a large bowl.

Whisk the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, and salt together. Pour over lentils and rice, stirring gently to coat. Fold in the spinach, mint, cherries, pecans and feta.

*Pomegranate molasses is likely an ingredient that doesn't lurk in your pantry. It wasn't in mine but this recipe was one too many recipes that I had seen requiring it and pushed me over the edge to buying a bottle. It sounds incredibly exotic and hard to find but you may be lucky enough to find it (as I did) in the foreign foods aisle of a supermarket. If you have no desire to own a bottle you can substitute 2 tsp of honey mixed with 4 tsp of pomegranate juice for the 2 Tbsp of pomegranate molasses.