Braised Lentils with Roasted Rutabagas, Spinach, Baby Corn and Shaved Radish served with Lemon Scented Brown Rice

This meal was made from everything that was leftover from my fridge and pantry, and the results were pretty phenomenal :)  The best part about this meal is that I used no oil at all.  It was just a variety of different cooking techniques -- roasting, steaming, braising, boiling and of course just left raw.  My favorite part about this dish were the robust flavors of the roasted rutabagas paired with the lemony rice and all the different textures you get -- the crunch of the radishes contrasted with the softness (not soggy) of the  lentils.  Granted it's a vegetarian dish, it was quite hearty and I didn't feel a bit hungry afterwards.

I've been trying to incoporate more grains into my diet -- I chose brown basamati rice, I actually enjoy the texture better than white rice.  It's chewy and it's not easily overcooked, so you are left with nice individual grains opposed to a big goopey mess.  I discovered my love for lentils through Indian food, these little seeds of wonder are packed with protein and holds such a nice earthy flavor.  Which is why I paired some earthy vegetables to go along with it -- rutabagas, spinach, radishes --which are all high in dietary fiber and vitamin C.

Ingredients for Braised Lentils with Roasted Rutabagas, Spinach, Baby Corn and Shaved Radish served with Lemon Scented Brown Rice:

(serves 2-3)

  • 1 1/2 cups brown basamati rice
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 medium rutabagas, peeled and sliced into 1" pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched
  • 1/2 cup baby corn, chopped
  • 3 radishes, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • salt and pepper to taste

To cook the brown rice, simply wash the rice a couple times under cold running water to get rid of any foreign matters that may be on the grains.  This will also wash off additional starches and gives the grains a nice polish.  If you are cooking 1 1/2 cups of rice then you should use 2 1/3 cups of water -- brown rice requires more water to cook.   If you have a rice cooker, you may use that.  But if not, please go to my friend, Mary Moh's page for EXCELLENT instructions on how to cook rice properly in a pot.  She also features a lot of traditional Asian dishes on her page, she is one talented lady let me tell you!

Preheat the oven to 400F.

A faster and healthier way to roast rutabagas is to simply blanch them first in a pot of boiling water.  Once they are cooked about half way through (the rutabagas should still be firm but soft enough to where they almost "bend").  Transfer them on a cookie sheet and mix with the minced garlic, spray with cooking spray and place in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until rutabagas are soft.

For the lentils, place the seeds in a medium sauce pan and cover to the top with water.  Add the bay leaf and simmer at medium to medium high heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost all the way soft.  You do not want to overcook your lentils or they will turn into a big mushy mess.  The best way to get perfect lentils is after cooking them, spread them on a sheet pan so the seeds can cool evenly.

Meanwhile, blanch your spinach, cut your radishes and steam your corn.  If you are using a rice cooker, they usually come with steamer attachments -- just throw the corn and steam it for 5 minutes.  If you do not have a steamer attachment, just throw the corn ontop of your nearly cooked rice for about 5 minutes.

Transfer your lentils into a medium sized bowl and mix with the red wine vinegar and taste with salt and pepper.  Add the spinach, roasted rutabagas and corn and gentle fold into the lentil mixture.  To assemble the plate as pictured, place your brown rice in a small bowl or cup and place at the center of the serving platter.  Spoon the lentil mixture around the rice and remove the bowl that is holding the rice.

Squeeze a little lemon on top of the brown rice and top with the shaved radish.  Garnish with sliced green onion and salt and pepper to taste.

If this vegetarian dish is just a little too "rustic" for you, you can add some chicken to this dish as well -- or a fried egg!  I originally was going to add a fried egg on top but forgot :( Oopsie!  So anyone who does end up trying this recipe, if you add a fried egg, please tell me how it tastes!

I have also been trying to not cook my vegetables for too long -- this helps retain the nutrients vegetables contain opposed to having them seeped into the water you are cooking them in.

Stay tuned for Napa Cabbage Rolls wrapped with Chicken Enoki Mushrooms and Mango!