Lentil and Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onion

I hate it when people tell me what to do. I love it when people tell me what to do. I simply like to make up my own mind. I mean I can’t make up my own mind. That’s the Libra in me, forever weighing options. First I try to amass a cluster of opinions, and then I want to have the last word.

When my husband says “No cooking!” I understand that what he really means is “Don’t make a big mess in the kitchen, that I’ll feel obliged to clean up!

But I have a Jittery Cook commitment to you. Now that I’ve been food blogging for 10 months, now that I’ve introduced myself personally to hundreds of people as the Jittery Cook, now that I’ve managed to entice so many of you to come back for more, how can I follow instructions like “No cooking?”

Lucky for me, I tasted this delicious recipe recently. Lucky for you, I’m not following orders.

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Lentil and Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onion Ingredients

  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • ¾ t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground allspice
  • 4 ½ c vegetable broth
  • ¾ c dried lentils, rinsed, picked over
  • ¾ c long-grain white rice
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Garnish ingredients
  • 2 c cherry tomatoes, red and yellow, whole or halved
  • 2 Israeli cucumbers, peeled, cut into rounds
  • 1 c plain yogourt
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh mint
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Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and allspice; sauté for 4 minutes.

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Add broth and lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Stir in rice; return to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender, about 15 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy, large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions; sauté for 20 minutes. Season pilaf to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter; top with onions. Place tomatoes and cucumber around the edges of the platter. Top each serving with dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle with mint.

Lentil and Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onion Print Ready Recipe

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Final notes:

  • This recipe was passed on to me by my multi-talented friend, Marilynne Malkin. It’s adapted from Epicurious; originally from, Bon AppétitNovember 2003. Welcome to the next Jittery Cook draw, Marilynne!
  • Brown rice–link to how to cook (thanks to Susan Schwartz), is a healthier choice. More liquid and longer cooking time would be required as per package instructions. I’ll give more precise information after I try it out. If you want to know just how much healthier, check out this list of the 50 healthiest foods.
  • See recipe2recipe‘s latest post for Shrimp DeLong that tastes amazing with this rice dish.
  • Here’s the real scoop about caramelizing onions. Patience, patience!


  1. says

    i cook brown rice only one way: the way a friend taught me — and she learned it from a 2004 Cook’s Illustrated recipe.
    Cook’s is an amazing magazine, for those of you who don’t know it. Here’s the recipe:

    Cook’s Illustrated foolproof oven-baked brown rice
    Makes 4 cups

    Cover the pot and use the water as soon as it boils. If you have one, Use an 8-inch ceramic baking dish with a lid instead of the baking dish and foil. To double the recipe, use a 13 by 9-inch baking dish: do not increase baking time.

    1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
    2 1/3 cups water
    2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    Spread rice in 8-inch square baking dish.
    Bring water and butter or oil to boil, covered, in medium pot over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil. Place in middle rack of an oven set at 375 degrees F andnd bake rice 1 hour, until tender.
    3. Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with dinner fork, then cover dish with clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer; serve immediately.

    • says

      OK then! Thanks for that! It’s so good to share info! I do believe you just entered yourself in the next Jittery Cook draw for the BBQ turkey prize pack. I will work on blending your brown rice recipe with the lentil rice pilaf and see what emerges.

  2. Cheryl says

    This is a wonderful dish that I make often. I love your presentation and I will copy you next time….with full credit to my jittery friend, of course!! I also love your list of related articles.

  3. says

    Those articles pop up when I write a post! I just have to weed out a few. This blogging business is so much fun! When am i going to read your blog about country living?

    • Cheryl says

      I’m a bit worried about libel suits if I don’t change the names….meanwhile, this week it was just the two of us; so zen! Nothing entertaining to write about. I think we scared off the little chickens!

  4. says

    I love this dish! I made a variation of this one time and it was fabulous. Roasted pine nuts or walnuts go well. So does a drizzle of reduced pomegranate syrup.

    • says

      I love it too! How long do you cook pomegranate syrup to reduce it? It starts out pretty thick. I want to try your variation. Thanks! Got any more recipes to suggest?

  5. Anonymous says

    Thanks Holly. The photos really make the fine recipe even more appealing. Helen and I cooked the penne with tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, et al is weekend in the country to the great pleasure of all our guests.

  6. Mirela says

    Looks really interesting. Is there a way to print out this recipe without the photos? I didn’t find any icon for that….or did I miss it?


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