I’ve had this recipe — well, the base recipe for it — since the late 1980’s, even longer than I’ve had my glass casserole dish. Over the years the two have become, not quite inseparable, because the glass dish is useful for lots of other things, but let’s say longtime partners.
The recipe is based on the one for microwave risotto in Barbara Kafka’s Microwave Gourmet, a bestseller in its time and still in print. I’m far from the first to adapt it, and that’s the great thing about the original recipe — you can use any clear soup you want and add pretty much anything that’s already cooked, or will cook as the rice does.
If this weren’t vegetarian week, for example, I could’ve added canned or frozen shrimp or cooked ham. With some frozen vegetables you’d have a complete meal in a dish. As it is, the rice and lentils make a complete protein together, and a salad, or even just some sliced raw vegetables, gives you a healthy meal.
Like most dishes using regular (non-instant) rice, this involves about 20 minutes’ cooking time, making it not quite so quick as a frozen dinner, but the work is minimal and the cooking gives you time to take care of other things.
If you’re willing to spend just a pinch more time, these Acorn Squash Stuffed with Lentils make another fine vegetarian dinner dish.
- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 3 cups strong broth or stock
- 2 Tb. vegetable oil
- 1 12-ounce can lentils
- Pour the oil into a two-quart lidded casserole dish (but don’t put the lid on yet).
- Heat in the microwave on high for two minutes.
- Stir in the rice, getting it coated with the oil.
- Heat again on high for three minutes or until rice browns lightly. (If it’s not browning evenly, stop and stir it before resuming.)
- Meanwhile, heat up your broth on the stovetop, just to the boiling point. (It should be strong — if you’re using instant, put in the recommended amount for four cups, and if it’s homemade, let it cook down awhile. It should taste a little too strong and/or salty.)
- When rice is browned, take dish out of microwave and carefully pour in the boiling liquid. Stir.
- Cover and put back in microwave. You may want to put a microwave safe plate underneath, as sometimes this overflows.
- Cook on high for seven minutes.
- Meanwhile, open lentils and rinse.
- Take dish out of microwave, add lentils, cover again and stir.
- Cook seven more minutes.
- Serve right away, with a salad.