Saffron Rice and Lentils

Here's something really easy that I like to do that also delivers a lot of flavor. Saffron rice is really great. I don't buy saffron. Too expensive. Carolina rice brand sells yellow saffron rice in 5 ounce packets for $0.95 I believe the brand is Riviana if you're on the west coast or shopping at Amazon. Same food, different name. If you want it to be vegetarian it needs to be the regular yellow rice. The spicy flavor has some animal stuff in it.

Anyway, saffron flavor is so great and so powerful that the taste in this little packet can be applied to more than just the rice with which it came. Plus, since this particular prepackaged rice still takes 25 minutes to cook it's ideal for adding in lentils.

I discovered lentils because of the show 'Good Eats'. Alton Brown did a show all about lentils and thoroughly convinced me they were a great food and I had to try them. Turns out he was right. While the soybean is the only complete protein that's not meat, lentils are literally the next best thing. And lentils deliver their nutrition without all those estrogen mimicking compounds.

Lentils are the only bean I buy in their dry form. Because they only take 20 minutes to cook. And during that time they can be imparted with all kinds of flavor. In this case saffron flavor.

The package says to bring 1 2/3 cups water and 2 tbls magarine to a boil. I use 2 cups water and no margarine. Then I add the rice mix, cover and let cook for 3 minutes. Then I add the dry lentils and let the pot continue simmering. Stirring and checking often. Adding additional water in 1/4 cup portions as needed until both the lentils and the rice are tender.

When the rice and lentils are nearly done I'll add 4-5 cloves of fresh garlic and one finely minced jalapeƱo. I like to use the rib and seeds of the pepper, but for a milder heat leave them out.  Garlic is smashed lightly and then thinly sliced. And simmer for 3 more eminutes.

After I'm satisfied with the texture of my lentils and rice I will stir in some frozen broccoli/cauliflower mix. Turn off the heat. Cover the pot and leave it on the hot burner for 5 minutes.

Then I check on the frozen veg. Stir a bit. I like to leave them a little bit still undone. So as not to overcook. They'll continue heating for a bit even after we remove them from the stove. This is the key to crisp frozen veggies.

The bigger chunks will finish from 5-6 minutes carryover. If you want to eat this right away just avoid the bigger pieces.

Once you're satisfied everything is done remove immediately to a cool storage container. Let rest uncovered on a cool section of your grated rangetop or a cooling rack. You don't want to overcook your veg.

I love the flavor combination of saffron and garlic create. The mild temperament of rice and lentils really soak it up well. It's pretty too. All bright yellow and vivid green.

I usually eat it on top of a bowl of fresh romaine and drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette.

In whatever way you choose to serve it, I hope you try it and enjoy it as much as I do.


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