Okay, lentils may not look all that appetizing, but they are quite good, especially in this easy dish: Lentils With Spinach and Orzo. The dish is reasonably quick to make, contains no meat, has a fair amount of protein and lots of fiber, and is hearty enough for a main dish. If you're not serving large portions of meat, the dish also makes a great side dish that will fill people up quickly. The dish is lightly spiced, and the orzo provides a creaminess that complements the lentils. Fried onions really jazz up the dish and contribute extra flavor as well as crunch. You can use the usual "thanksgiving casserole" brand, make your own (that's a real pain in the tush), or buy the fried onions at an Asian/ethnic market where they tend to come in large packages and be substantially cheaper (I usually go for option three). You also can sprinkle extra fried onions atop each serving if you like (I do, because I like them!). This isn't an especially fancy dish, but it's easy, inexpensive, nutritious, and quite tasty! Leftovers also make great lunches. Enjoy!
Lentils With Spinach and Orzo -- Serves 4+
1 cup of lentils (brown--the most common kind from the grocery store)
3 cups of water
1 tablespoon of minced dried onion
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (use a little more if you especially like garlic)
1/2 cup of orzo
2 more cups of water, this time boiling
1 teaspoon of cumin
3-4 cups of spinach leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of crispy fried onions, plus more for garnishing
In a large saucepan bring the lentils, 3 cups of water, minced dried onion, salt, and garlic powder to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the lentil mixture cook for about 10 minutes. Add the orzo, the 2 cups of boiling water, and the cumin. Stir everything well and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the mixture cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring it every so often, until the orzo and lentils are quite soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed (you want some to remain as a sauce). Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach, a little at a time, until it wilts into the mixture. Taste the mixture and add a little salt and pepper if you like. Stir in the 1/2 cup of crispy fried onions. Top the mixture with extra fried onions to serve it.