Recipes, Vegetarian
Comments 27

Savory lentils with rice, peppers and tomatoes

Savory lentils with rice, peppers and tomatoes served in a ramekin surrounded by a crunchy-sweet tossed salad

Do you struggle to use leftovers and fresh veggies in your fridge before their expire (or “mold and slime”) date? Or do you perhaps yearn at times for comfort food but tire of the usual suspects? This savory lentil dish solves all those problems in one swell foop!

The other night I had a few cups of cooked brown rice in my fridge, as well as some colorful chopped bell peppers and several leaves of kale whose time had come. Use them or lose them!

Savory lentils with rice, peppers and tomatoes served in ramekins surrounded by a crunchy-fresh fruit-laced salad

Savory lentils with rice, peppers and tomatoes served in ramekins surrounded by a crunchy-fresh fruit-laced salad

It had been a stormy, cold day here in San Francisco, with gusting winds and enough cracking thunder and lighting–rare in our city–to force me to turn off and unplug all our electronic appliances.

Suppertime. The lights were back on, the electronic gear plugged in. We were hungry, ready for comfort food, and I had all those leftovers and aging veggies in the fridge.

What better on a cold, blowy evening than comforting lentils with rice in a savory pepper-tomato sauce? It took no more than half an hour to stir up this dish, start to finish.

In addition to the rice, kale and peppers, I had a nice bunch of fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market begging to be used, and just enough red and green lentils together to make a mess. The red lentils, I knew, would cook in minutes, lending a filling, smooth texture to the dish. The green lentils would take a little longer to reach an al dente state, adding depth and heft.

Fresh tomatoes are scrumptious, but sauce works too

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, replace them with a couple of cups of spaghetti sauce–your own or from a jar.

Homemade tomato sauce

Homemade tomato sauce

Most of the time, I have a jar of my own freshly made homemade all-purpose tomato sauce in the fridge.

It beats every commercial brand, hands down, if I do say so myself, and comes in handy when I need that extra punch only rich tomato flavor can give.

In the back of my pantry, for those times I’m out of fresh and homemade, I keep a jar of our favorite store-bought, Classico Organic Tomato and Herb Spaghetti Sauce.

We like it for the flavor first, of course, but also because it does not contain a lot of unpronounceable ingredients. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t know anyone at Classico, and I don’t get any form of compensation for mentioning their brand. It just happens to be the one we like best.)

A YayYay's Kitchen Recipe

Savory lentils with rice, peppers and tomatoes

This is a highly changeable recipe, an easy one to use whatever leftovers and aging vegetables lurk in the depths of the fridge.

On another night, I might have thrown in leftover butternut squash cubes and celery in place of the peppers and kale, but this night, I found these, begging to be used. What goes into this dish depends entirely on what’s available. Use what you have!

Cook time and such

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 10 more minutes
  • Total time: 30-35 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 T Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 C Yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C Rinsed dry green lentils
  • 4 Medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 C Red or orange bell pepper, chopped*
  • 1 C Green bell pepper, chopped*
  • 1 C Fresh kale, chopped*
  • 1/2 C Rinsed dry red lentils
  • 1-1/2 C Cooked long-grain brown rice
  • 3/4 t Sea salt
  • Fresh-ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 C vegan Greek-style yogurt or my Basic Creamy Cheesy Topping and Dip
  • Chipotle powder

*Substitute whatever fresh and leftover vegetables you have in the fridge to add color and texture to the dish.

Tip for new cooks:

To make this recipe quick, chop each of the vegetables while the ones before them sauté. Add each batch as you chop it. Your recipe cooks almost as fast as you can add the ingredients.

Directions

  1. Bring 3 cups water to boil in a medium pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large kettle over medium flame, heat oil and toss in onion and garlic. Sauté lightly.
  3. To the boiling water, stir in the rinsed, green lentils; reduce heat to a gentle boil.
  4. To the vegetable kettle, add tomatoes and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add bell peppers and kale and simmer about three minutes longer.
  6. To the lentils pot, stir in the rinsed red lentils.
  7. To the vegetable kettle, stir in cooked rice and salt.
  8. Carefully pour the lentils, and any remaining water in the kettle, over the rice and veggies. Stir gently to combine.
  9. Cover and cook at slightly more than a simmer, ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are nearly tender. The red lentils will all but disappear. The green lentils will be whole and have just a bit of tooth to them. Do not over cook.
  10. Add fresh ground pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Garnish with a dollop of plain vegan yogurt or my 5-Minute Creamy Cheese Dip for a healthier alternative to sour cream. Serve with a crisp, fruity salad laced with balsamic vinaigrette like this one, below.

 

Add a crunchy-fresh salad laced with seasonal fruits

We like to serve this dish in little white ramekins on a big dinner plate, surrounded by a crisp tossed salad.

Fruit-laced romaine and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Fruit-laced romaine and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette

Thirty-second vinaigrette

With a fork or wire whisk, whisk a tablespoon of oil into a tablespoon or so of the balsamic vinegar and drizzle over the plated salad.

Our favorite with lentils: Crunchy romaine, baby spinach and mixed spring greens sparkling with chunks of sweet yellow mango, red bell peppers, thin celery crescents and just a few dried cranberries, all topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.

Leftovers? So good!

Plenty of times, we’ve warmed up the leftovers, sliced a few carrot and cucumber sticks, and called it good. Dinner in less than ten minutes!

What would you serve with a simple dish like this?

27 Comments

  1. Pat McArdle says

    Hi Yayyay, I do appreciate all your help with the GoWise pressure cooker, but I sent it back today. I tried your way of cooking dry garbanzo beans (3.5 cups water to 2 cups dry garbanzo beans) and I got an error message on the cooker. When it cooled down and I opened it, there were black beans on the bottom and no water anywhere. After having several failures, I decided I really didn’t need this in my life! I can cook things the old-fashioned way on the top of the stove and just watch the pot. Thanks for all your help. I’m glad it works for you.

    Pat

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I actually keep these ingredients around, but I’ll probably wait until my next crop of kale matures to prepare this. I just pulled this year’s plants that were going to seed. I have filed this away on Pinterest for future use.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pat, I just spoke with “George” at GoWise USA in Phoenix. He assured me that the slow cooker does not use pressure, and believes all of the foods we discussed first above should be safe on the slow cooker setting.

    All of the other functions, except the brown/saute, use pressure, so we need to be cautious about using these foods with those.

    He gave me permission to say that a) because of the possibility of these foods foaming, the company has to caution us, but b) anecdotally, he himself, also a vegetarian, has cooked all or most of those foods in the pressure cooker, being careful never to fill too full, and never had a problem.

    He kindly offered to consult with others in the company to get more information for us about what is and is not safe practice, regarding these other foods. He says it may take a few days, and they are not open on weekends. He will get back to me sometime next week. Stay tuned!

    Like

    • Pat McArdle says

      Thanks so much for your help with this. Perhaps I will keep the machine after all! I just need to do more research. I will look forward to the added information the GoWish customer service person sends.

      Appreciate your help! Pat

      Liked by 1 person

    • Pat McArdle says

      Hi Yayyay,

      Well, I got brave and tried the pressure cooker today. I used your recipe for the tomato sauce that sounds so yummy. So far it hasn’t worked out too well. I must be doing something wrong. I used 6 lbs. of Roma tomatoes, only one orange bell pepper and all the other ingredients you mentioned. My cooker is the 6 qt. GoWise which is the same as yours, if I’m not mistaken. So putting all those ingredients in the cooker filled it up to at least 3/4 full, maybe 7/8 full. Of course the manufacturer says not do to this. I thought that it must be okay as you had done it and the tomatoes would cook down quickly, I thought. So since you said you cooked it for 7 minutes, I pushed the “rice” button which is supposed to cycle between 5, 8, and 10 minutes. I must not have been fast enough because when I pushed “rice” again, it stayed on 8 minutes. I set my kitchen timer for 15 minutes as you said it takes that long to come up to pressure and then it will begin to really cook. When 15 minutes had pass (and more) the “8” stayed put and never, ever started a count down. Pretty soon, steam started coming out of the steam/pressure valve. It came out at a steady pace and didn’t stop. The number 8 stayed the same. So finally I hit “cancel” and nothing happened. Then I unplugged the machine. My husband noted it smelled good so I knew something was happening.

      Finally after it cooled down, I opened the lid and cooking had taken place. The unit was still probably too full, but the contents had settled down a lot and there was much more liquid. So . . . I got brave and tried it again. This time, I pressed the “rice” button quickly and got it to cycle through the 5, 8, 10 settings. When I got it to “5” again, I tried the +/- time button but it wouldn’t work. Again, I probably took more than 5 seconds. But I decided that a 5 minute cooking time was probably okay since the veggies had already cooked some. So I set my kitchen timer again for 15 minutes to see what would happen after the machine got pressurized. Would the 5 minute clock start counting down? No, it didn’t and once again, steam came out of the pressure release valve. I had the little black cap on with the dots lines up for “pressure” rather than “steam.” Right? So again, I let it go for awhile and steam just kept pouring out. Finally I pressed “cancel” and again. Nothing happened so I unplugged the unit again. When it was cool, I opened it again and it seemed to have cooked some more. Tomorrow morning I’ll put the veggies into the Vitamix and whirl them around to make a smooth sauce/soup/whatever. I think they are cooked enough. They are soft and mushy with lots of liquid from the cooked veggies.

      So any ideas what I did wrong? Perhaps you got the 8 quart machine and therefore it was not filled as much as mine? The little black steam vent cap just kind of sits there all wobbly like, right?

      Sorry to be so much trouble. I don’t want to give up on this machine because I think it could be a great tool to have in the kitchen. On the Instant Pot website (www.instantpot.com) I found several tables which I printed off that give you an idea how much time certain items take in the electric pressure cooker. They have a page for grains, one for legumes, meats, etc. That looked pretty helpful even though the Instant Pot is not the same as the GoWise.

      So, any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

      Appreciate your help. Thanks! Pat

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hello again Pat. I am sorry you are having so much trouble with your machine. As you know, I’m still learning to use mine too, and am not an expert yet. I suggest calling the GoWise support folks and talking with them directly about the problems you’re having.

        Please always follow your pressure cooker’s–or any machine’s–instructions. Fill only to your machine’s recommended level. What I used in my recipe works in my cooker. As you can see in the photos. I fill to about 2/3 full, between the 2/5 and 3/5 line.

        For clarification, I’ll add a note to the recipe to adjust quantities as needed to fit the user’s machine.

        Regarding the settings, I haven’t tried using the rice cooker function with my sauce, so I can’t say how that would work or how long it would take.

        You mentioned InstaPot. It might interest you to know that a lot of cooks on a Facebook foodie group I belong to use that cooker. So many of them use it, in fact, that they alert each other when one goes on sale somewhere.

        Hope that helps a little!

        Like

        • Pat McArdle says

          Hi Yayyay,

          Thanks for your reply. I will call GoWise with my questions, but I just have one more for you. If you don’t use the rice setting to get to 7 minutes of cooking under pressure, what buttons DO you punch?

          Today I’m going to soak garbanzos and either tonight or tomorrow cook a small amount of them. No more big pot fulls if anything! LOL

          Pat

          Liked by 1 person

          • The pressure button is the one that says “Pressure Time +” Pat. After I plug in the machine, I press that button until the time field shows seven minutes.

            Good luck with your beans. I’ve never used this cooker with soaked beans, as I don’t soak mine. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never had a foaming problem with them. I usually do two cups of washed dried beans with three and a half cups of water in mine.

            Like

  4. Hi Pat. Thank you for your kind words.

    Good question about the pressure cooking feature. Like you, I don’t anticipate using my cooker for meat. I do use it two or three times a week for cooking beans, including garbanzos, as well as for soups, rice and sauces, like the tomato sauce you mentioned. So far am thrilled with it. But your questions give me pause.

    One of the biggest complaints in the Amazon reviews, and one I share, is that the manual for this particular cooker does not give terrific guidance. The folks at GoWISE have been quite helpful when I’ve called them, though, and prompt in replying–most of the time.

    With your questions, I wonder whether I have misinterpreted the manual’s instructions.

    Because it is billed as a six-in-one (pressure cooker, bean cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, soup cooker, browner/sauteer), I thought the pressure cooker function was the only one I needed to worry about cooking those specified items.

    I have cooked several of them, including apple sauce, in the slow cooker. It doesn’t seem to require pressure to work. I’ve also made lentil and minestrone soups using the soup function. My minestrone recipe calls for a couple of handfuls of dry macaroni. I’m always careful not to exceed the fill instructions.

    Now I’m not sure. The manual says:

    “Be aware that certain foods, such as applesauce, cranberries, pearl barley, oatmeal or other cereals, split peas, noodles, macaroni, rhubarb, or spaghetti can foam, froth, and sputter, and clog the pressure release device (steam vent). These foods should not be cooked in a pressure cooker at all.”

    Does that mean we can’t cook these foods using any of the machine’s functions? As I’ve seen while using the cooker these last eight months, some of those other functions do also build pressure.

    It’s late on a Friday afternoon as I type this. I will try to reach the GoWISE customer service desk and get clarification on these issues. It may be Monday or so before I hear back from them. When I do, I will let you know what they say.

    Thank you for asking, Pat.

    Like

    • Pat McArdle says

      Thank you so much for your prompt reply! I appreciate it. You are so right about the directions manual leaving a lot to be desired with this pressure cooker. Like you, I have never used a pressure cooker in my life as my mother put the fear of God in me about them. So with the limited information that the company supplies, I’m not sure how to do the pressure cooking. For example, they say you can press and re-press a certain button to get different settings on, say, rice. How do I know which of the rice settings I want? I’m new at this. I would like more information. Is there another book you use? Perhaps I should google pressure cooker recipes to get a better idea of what to do?

      Thanks again and have a great weekend!
      Pat in Oregon

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re welcome, Pat. The manual provides the settings (cook times) available for each of the buttons. The settings are in time increments.

        For the brown rice, for example, we can choose 10, 15 or 20 minutes, by pressing the button one, two or three times.

        I cook only brown rice, and that infrequently these days due to the arsenic question, so I can’t tell you a lot about the rice cooker, except that it did cook my rice beautifully.

        Beans usually cook for me in 30 minutes. Even with the warm-up/cool-down time, that cuts bean cooking in half or less. This cooker has paid for itself in organic beans I don’t buy in cans anymore!

        You have a choice of 25, 30 and 40 minutes using the beans button. You can also add or subtract minutes using the +/- buttons.

        I’ve caramelized onions and peppers using that feature, then tossed them with leftover farro, all of which I set aside while I steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots in the steamer (1, 3 & 5 minute settings).

        Twenty minutes later, when the machine signaled I could open it, I served perfectly steamed veggies over the farro/onions/peppers, threw a few toasted pine nuts on top, and had a lovely super-easy supper that had required almost no work at all.

        I believe one of the reviewers on Amazon mentioned a cook book they used with this cooker and found extremely helpful. It had a chef’s name in it.

        Like

    • Good afternoon, Pat. Today I received this kindly response from George, the customer service rep I’ve been speaking with at GoWise. He gave me permission to quote him here, and I am including his entire response.

      “Sorry that it took this long but I wanted to make sure I got accurate information. Well basically it’s what I told you when we last spoke. Even though the wording on the manual should be different and will be updated. People should be aware that that, those foods listed on the manual create foam and can clog the pressure release vent. It should not say “THESE FOODS SHOULD NOT BE COOKED IN A PRESSURE COOKER AT ALL.” It should say to be careful and to not overfill the pot. It is recommended to always leave 1/4 of the pot empty to avoid any clogging of the vent. Also, another reason why it is not recommended or brought to the customers attention is to keep in mind that a lot of these foods are cooked with very little water. Now in order for a pressure cooker to work properly there should be plenty of liquid since it works under pressure, created by steam. For example, you can not just add dry spaghetti and sauce to the pressure cooker, you have to add water on top of that for the spaghetti to cook and still be able to build pressure. It is not like you can not cook any of these foods in the pressure cooker it just means that you should be cautions.

      “I hope this helped! If not let me know and I will dig up more information! Thank you for your patience!”

      So that gives me a sense of relief that, as long as I am quite careful about leaving plenty of room in the pot, I should be safe to cook most of the things I normally do, and I look forward to seeing their manual update, don’t you?

      How did your beans turn out?

      Like

  5. Pat McArdle says

    Hi Yayyay, I need your help. I lovedyour enthusiasm about the 6 in 1 pressure cooker you bought and used to make your yummy-sounding tomato/spaghetti sauce, I purchased one. (I realize you are trying it out and did not recommend the particular pressure cooker.) I’m a vegan so I won’t be cooking meat in the pressure cooker. I was really disappointed to read in the directions that I should NOT cook such things as oatmeal or pearl barley, applesauce, cranberries, split peas or other things that can foam or froth as they will clog the pressure release device (steam vent.) It says these foods should not be cooked in the pressure cooker at all. I cook beans, especially garbanzo beans which do froth/foam and was looking forward to cutting down the cooking time. So do you cook any beans in your pressure cooker? What else could a vegan cook in it besides your tomato sauce? I guess it would cut down on the time for cooking rice. I’m thinking perhaps I should send it back if I am really limited in what I can use it for. Know what I mean?

    Thanks so much!
    Pat in Oregon

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sharon L. Grace says

    I so enjoy this combo dish! And I especially love the Fruit-laced romaine and spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette pic!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kathryn,
    Your lentil dish looks beautiful surrounded by that bed of colorful salad and vegetables.
    We like lentils and it’s always helpful to find additional recipes to make them. I usually just eat them in soups and haven’t thought about using them for an entree.Thanks for the idea!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to my kitchen, and thank you for stopping by, Gluten Free! I feel a little weird calling you that, but hey, whatever works!

      We love lentils in soups too, and in salads. Probably the only way I haven’t used them yet is in quick breads or desserts. One of these days!

      Like

      • Every time I re-read your comment saying ,” I feel a little weird calling you gluten free -but whatever works”- I am laughing so hard!

        I don’t know why it came up that way..My name is Judee

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Kate, this sounds wonderfully nourishing and comforting! My husband doesn’t care for lentils, unfortunately, but I may just try this on him anyway. (He’s very good about being willing to try anything at least once.) I just bought my very first pressure cooker, in part so that I could cook dried beans better and faster. Could be made in a pressure cooker, perhaps with some minor modifications? Either way, thanks for sharing another of your tasty, wholesome recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Margaret, I bought a 6-in-1 cooker last winter and now cook most of my beans and lentils using the pressure cooker. It takes 15 minutes to gain pressure, and another 15 to lose it after the cook time, so I don’t use it for quick meals like this one unless I have enough advance time, but yes, you could do this there.

      Like

      • Thanks, Kate. I haven’t tried the new pressure cooker yet, and I still have a bit of reading and learning to do before I will feel comfortable using it for the first time. I’m looking forward to making my bean-based soups quicker and finding other suitable uses for it.

        Liked by 1 person

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