Pack in whole grains and legumes with this healthy, easy side dish that’s full of flavor! These lentils and rice cook together in one pot, and feed a crowd.
We don’t want to get all sensational here, but… Lentils have superpowers. These humble legumes, packed with protein, fiber, iron, vitamins, and minerals, can benefit our health at every age and stage. (Even babies love lentils!) And with a little care in the preparation, they taste great, too!
We want our kids to eat All The Lentils. And with this tasty one pot lentils and rice recipe, they’ll want to eat All The Lentils, too.
You can make this savory side dish nearly as easily as you can cook rice. But here, you get something extra special. The nutrition is awesome. The texture is hearty but light. The broth and bright herbs add depth and freshness.
Pair these lentils and rice with grilled chicken or fish and a green salad for a perfectly balanced and delicious family dinner.
Are Lentils and Rice Good for You?
Here’s the lowdown as to why we love to serve this dish to our kids (and ourselves.)
Just one half cup of lentils provides 9 grams of protein (more than an egg!) a third of our daily fiber, and almost half the daily recommended amount of folate.
Brown rice, true to it’s whole grain goodness, dishes out plenty of fiber too, along with minerals like manganese and selenium, and B-vitamins.
And can we talk about fresh herbs? Parsley and scallions are as potent in nutrition as they are in flavor. These herbs are full of vitamins and antioxidants. Parsley helps support a healthy heart, liver, and immune system.
The short version: eat up! This side is super nutritious.
Tips for Making the Best Lentils and Rice
We tested this recipe a lot. Except “tested” isn’t the right word. Really, we just kept making it, because it was so tasty every time and we just wanted to keep eating it. BUT in this process of making it and making it again, we learned a bunch of tips and tricks that help your lentils and rice turn out perfect. Here’s what we know:
- French lentils work best here. Those are the small, greenish-brown marbled ones. They hold their shape better than ordinary green or brown lentils.
- Choose a really stock or broth with a flavor your really like. Because you’ll taste it. Homemade is awesome, but your favorite store-bought brand also works fine.
- Leave the lentils and rice alone while they cook. Stirring will release the starches into the broth and make the whole mixture kind of sticky, and less appetizing. Find a nice low simmer, cover the pot, and let it be.
- Adjust the amount of liquid if needed. A few variables can change how much broth you’ll need to soften the lentils and rice. Add and extra splash if it seems like the pot is getting dry halfway through cooking.
- Wait until the very end to add the herbs. You want them fresh as can be. And don’t stir too vigorously
- If your kids are suspicious of the herbs, keep them in a dish on the side. Each person at the table can add a sprinkle of she likes, or refrain if she doesn’t.
- Add in tasty extras. This dish pairs well with a lot of flavors. Feel free to add what you have on hand like cooked chicken, beef or roasted vegetables.
What Should You Serve with Lentils and Rice?
This dish is crazy versatile. The flavor of the lentils and rice itself is so flexible that you can pair it with multiple different cuisines, and nothing will seem out of place. Here are a few simple sample menu plans you might try:
- Grilled chicken, green salad, lentils and rice.
- Instant Pot salmon, steamed carrots, lentils and rice.
- Indian butter chicken, roasted cauliflower, lentils and rice.
- Lentils and rice, fresh fruit salad, and sauteed spinach.
More Healthy Sides
Keep up with your healthy side dish kick! Here’s some inspiration:
Kid-Friendly Brussels Sprouts
Spiced Honey Glazed Carrots
- 1 cup French lentils, raw
- 1 cup brown rice, raw
- 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 3 1/2 cup chicken broth, low-sodium
- 3 tablespoon parsley, fresh
- 3 tablespoon green onion
Rinse rice (we prefer long grain brown rice) and lentils thoroughly in three changes of water. Drain well.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the drained rice and lentils and toss until well-coated.
Add broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, undisturbed, for 30-40 minutes, until broth is mostly absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.
Remove from heat and let rest 5-10 minutes before fluffing with a fork. (Avoid stirring vigorously, as that creates too creamy a texture. The rice and lentils are best when the grains are tender, but separate.)
Fold in parsley and green onions, and serve.