This is not a new recipe to our blog, but it was posted way back at the beginning and it has played such a constant role in both our menu and Little Sis’ family menu that I can’t help but share a slight variation in hopes that it will catch some people who missed the original,. Maybe the new spice profile will appeal to those who passed up on the original as well!
As boring as the name is, ‘Lentil Casserole’ packs a lot of bang for the buck…… or maybe a buck and a half. Literally. Dried lentils and dried brown rice lay the inexpensive groundwork for this hearty meal that gains great flavor with spices and in this case spinach. My picky son really likes this and finds it ‘thermos worthy’ (to take to school for lunch). Both my husband and I like it as well and when I heated some leftovers at work the other day, I was asked 3 times what smelled so good. Just my little ‘ol cheap-o lentil casserole, no cause for excitement ;-)!
The ‘African’ part of the title comes from Tabil spice mix but this dish can be made with Italian spices, as in the original, or Mexican spices, or whatever you think will get your people’s attention! Tabil is not necessarily easy to come by, but you can buy it or you can make your own. Admittedly, using this spice mix can increase the cost of this dish a bit, as if you buy prepared it is expensive, and if you have to invest in the spices, it is expensive at first….. but very worth it in the long run and less expensive than buying.
This can be cooked in a crockpot over about 4 hours or on the stovetop in 45 – 60 minutes. The beauty of the stovetop method is that once the onions are sauteed and the water is boiling, there is not much more to do, so it’s not a labor intensive hour and therefore gets cooked when we have forgotten to plan but are not yet starving!
African Lentil Casserole
1 – 2 tsp oil
1 & 1/2 c chopped fresh onion
2 clove garlic, mashed
6c veggie or chicken broth (I use ‘Better Than Bouillon – Vegetable‘ or this cheaper make your own version -FYI I don’t use sundried tomatoes when I follow that recipe as they gummed up my food processor)
1 & 1/2 c lentils
1 c brown rice
1 Tbsp Tabil spice mix
2 – 3 large handfuls of spinach
Saute chopped onion and garlic in the oil in a large pot if you are cooking on the stove, in a small saucepan if transferring to crock pot.
Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot of crock pot except for the spinach
Cook on low for 2 hours, high for 2 hours.
About 15 minutes before eating or being done, add the spinach and stir, let cook until spinach is wilted.
After sauteeing onion and garlic add the rest of the ingredients except for spinach. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 – 60 minutes. Just before serving, add spinach and cook until wilted.
It looks like a lot of spinach but it cooks down into MUCH less.
Put those handfuls in there….
Then stir the spinach in…..
Not so spinach-y that the finicky will be repelled 😉
And there you have it. Cheap. Easy. Tasty.