This is good as a main dish or works well alongside a stew or curry, with mellow spices that are good on their own but can still stand out when paired with other flavours. Puy lentils have a slightly peppery flavour which I really like, but if you can’t find them then any dark lentils should do. As for the pine nuts, I know nuts can be a bit pricey so leave them out if you want but a small packet shouldn’t set you back too much. They’re amazing on salads and pasta dishes and you can even use them to make your own pesto, so I recommend getting hold of some if you can. I love serving this over rocket (which is what’s in the picture) and topped with chunks of grilled halloumi cheese, but I’ve left that out of the ingredients list to keep the base recipe vegan.
-100g brown rice
-100g puy/ dark brown or green lentils
-2 tbsps olive oil
-1 red onion
-thumb sized piece fresh ginger
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1/4 of a large cauliflower
-a big handful cherry tomatoes
-salt and pepper, to taste
-a small handful pine nuts
-Cook your brown rice and lentils according to packet instructions. The type of lentils and rice I use both take 25 minutes to cook, so I just boil them together in the same saucepan. Drain when tender and set aside.
-Meanwhile, as the lentils and rice are cooking, put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil. Peel, quarter and finely slice the red onion and peel and coarsely grate the ginger, then once the oil is hot add both to the pan. Add in the spices and stir it all together with a wooden spoon, then cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft.
-Coarsely grate the cauliflower, using the side of the grater with the chunkier holes. The cauliflower might break up a little as you grate it, but this doesn’t matter too much as long as you end up with little pieces so they can mix in with the rice and lentils.
-Add the grated cauliflower to the frying pan and turn up the heat a little, then fry, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the cauliflower has turned golden brown.
-Tip the lentils, rice and cauliflower mixture into a large dish.
-Cut the cucumber lengthways in half, then quarters, then into slices, and quarter the cherry tomatoes.
-Add to the lentils, rice and cauliflower then halve the lime and squeeze over the juice, along with about half a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper, to taste, and toss it all together.
Finally, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, keeping a close eye on them and shaking the pan to stop them from burning on one side. They’re ready when they’re golden brown and smell all toasty. Scatter the pine nuts over the pilaf and serve.