Sunday, March 27, 2011

Recipe for Casserole of Lentils, Rice, and Sausage

This casserole of Lentils, Rice, and Sausage is Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free but loaded with flavor.
(This Revisited Recipe was updated with better photos and instructions in March 2011.)  When I announced the new recipe archives section for Casseroles, I mentioned  there were quite a few casseroles from the early days of the blog that needed updating, and this casserole of lentils, rice, and Italian sausage that I first posted in 2005 desperately needed a photo make-over.  Admittedly, this is not the most photogenic dish in the world, but it's loaded with flavor, reminding me of Mujadarra, one of my all-time favorite dishes of Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions.  This recipe adds turkey Italian Sausage to make it a one-dish meal, maybe with the addition of a green vegetable or a tossed green salad.  The recipe also freezes well if you'd like to freeze individual-sized portions to take for lunches at work.

Just enter "lentils' into the search bar of my blog and it's easy to see I'm a bit infatuated with these flat little legumes that don't need soaking.  I love to use them in all types of dishes, and the variations are endless since lentils are an ingredient that's used in cuisines around the world.  Lentils are one of The World's Healthiest Foods, and they're a good example of the type of  low-glycemic complex carbohydrate recommended by The South Beach Diet. In the U.S. many people are only aware of  the brown lentils commonly used in soup, but there are many types of lentils.   (For an excellent example of the different types of beans and lentils used in Indian cooking, visit One Hot Stove and see the chart my friend Nupur created.)

Put lentils into a small pan, add enough water to cover by about an inch along with 1-2 dried bay leaves, and simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.

Whenever I cook Uncle Ben's Brown Rice in my rice cooker I always make extra to have in the freezer, so I used 2 cups leftover brown rice.  If you're cooking rice to make this you'll need about 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice or Uncle Ben's Converted Rice.

While the lentils and rice are cooking, brown the Italian sausage well, breaking into small clumps with a metal turner as it cooks.  (Use lower-fat turkey Italian sausage for the South Beach Diet.)

Remove the cooked sausage, wipe out the pan with a paper towel, then brown the onions over low heat until they are starting to caramelize, about 20 minutes or more.  When onions are lightly browned, add the minced garlic and saute 3-5 minutes more.

When lentils are soft, dump them into a colander placed in the sink and let them drain well, discarding the bay leaves.

Combine the cooked rice, browned sausage, and drained lentils with the browned onion-garlic mixture and stir in 1/2 cook chicken stock.  (I used my homemade chicken stock, but you can use chicken broth from a can.)

Put the mixture into a cassserole dish with a lid (or cover with foil) and bake about 30 minutes at 350F/180C.

The casserole is done when the mixture is steaming hot and fragrant.  You could serve this with some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese or chopped parsley if desired.

Casserole of Lentils, Rice, and Sausage
(Makes 6-8 servings, originally adapted from a recipe at, but I could not find the original recipe when I updated this post.)

2 cups cooked brown rice or Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (1/2 cup uncooked rice; do not use instant rice)
1 cup uncooked brown or green lentils
5 links Hot turkey Italian sausage or Italian sausage (use lower-fat turkey sausage for the South Beach Diet)
2 small onions, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 T plus 2 T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1-2 dried bay leaves
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt/pepper to taste
chopped parsley for serving (optional)
freshly-grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Cook rice in rice cooker or following package directions and let cool (or thaw frozen rice if you have some in the freezer like I always do.)  Place lentils in saucepan, cover with water, add bay leaves and simmer until lentils are getting soft, about 30 minutes.

While rice and lentils are cooking, heat 1 T olive oil in large nonstick frying pan. Squeeze sausage out of casing and cook until very well browned, breaking up the sausage as it cooks.

When sausage is browned, remove to a bowl and wipe out pan with a paper towel.  Heat 2 T olive oil, then add chopped onions and cook over very low heat until onions are nicely browned. Do not rush this step; it will take at least 20 minutes, and probably longer. When onions are browned add garlic and cook 3-5 minutes.

Turn on oven and heat to 350 F/180C.  When lentils are done, drain well, remove bay leaf, and combine in frying pan with onions, rice, and sausage. Season with salt/pepper to taste. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock, stir to combine, and pour mixture into small casserole dish. 

Cover with lid or foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit 10 minutes.  Serve warm, garnished with chopped parsley if desired.  This can  also be served with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

This freezes well, and can be frozen in individual-size servings to take to work for lunches.
South Beach Suggestions:
Lentils are considered a "good" carb on the South Beach Diet, and  brown rice or Uncle Ben's Converted Rice are both lower-glycemic types of rice, which would make this recipe suitable for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet.

More Ideas for Cooking with Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients)
Mujadarra (Middle Eastern Lentils and Rice with Caramelized Onions) from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lentil Soup with Ground Beef and Brown Rice from Kalyn's Kitchen
Lentil Stew with Sausage from Simply Recipes
Vegan Barley and Lentil Pilaf with Mushrooms and Spinach from The Perfect Pantry
Lentils with Bacon from The Amateur Gourmet
Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Sumac from e-Curry
Lentil-Goat Cheese Burgers from Cara's Cravings
Lentil and Brown Rice Salad from Umami Girl
Curried Lentil Stew from Eat Real
CrockPot Curried Red Lentil, Chickpea, and Quinoa Stew from Eat This

(Indian Spiced Lentils used to included in this post, but I have moved the recipe to a post of its own. Use that link to find the recipe.)
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  1. I can relate to these recipes closely ,Kalyn,since I am from India and we live off lentils and curry every single day...:)

  2. Great post. I love lentils and recently wrote about two different lentil soup recipes. They are so handy and tasty. Unfortunately I don't have a WHB entry this weekend. Hopefully I'll have one next weekend!

    P.S. Ha ha, now I know where this meme came from. I've been tagged three times this weekend! Every time I start thinking about my list it makes me soooo hungry. : )

  3. You know i love rice so i vote for this one definitely. Must say, apart from trying out rice and peas which is a jamaican dish, i've never used other beans, pulses before. This looks like something i would enjoy.

  4. Rice and lentils...a match made in heaven :) Thanks for the link to my chart, Kalyn, that was so nice of you.

  5. Lentils are on my to-do list...have been for a couple of years...what is holding me back?

  6. You know I've never eaten lentils before? But I made the first recipe the other day and I loved it. Very good, very easy (except for the number of pans going at once), and wonderfully filling. I had no problems just reheating it for lunch the next day as is. The slow cooking of the onions made a real difference, bringing out the sweetness of the onion (even though I was hopping up and down swearing at them to hurry up and caramelize). I will definitely make this again!

  7. Hi Kalyn...had a great time at your blog. Am sitting in far off India, can connect instantly to a lot posts on your blog. We dont do lentils everyday, coz the kids prefer Italian/Continental...that's life I guess. Do stop by at my blog someday..I'm at
    Cheers for now..

  8. I made the Lentils, sausage and rice dish today. Kaylyn's instructions are always right on. I liked it, but I didn't. The flavor were excellent, but I am not sure how the baking added to it. It didn't really bind together or anything. I guess I'm just used to having wetter lentils. They seemed a little dry. Unfortuately I didn't have too much onion in the house..but the carmelization really stands out. Next time I would add lots of onions and maybe a little more stock. Even though it didn't come out exactly as I thought (it could just be me) It was definitely worth trying again.

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  10. This dish sounds delicious even without the sausage (and lentils and rice make a complete protein!). Perhaps with some spinach mixed in?

    I'm a big fan of using casseroles as a way to sneak in "healthier" food. When everything's all mixed together it's always that much more appealing.

  11. Wow! I have just discovered your blog and I already have a long list of recipes that I want to try out. I would never guess it is diet food (though I'm not too familiar with SBD), since it all looks absolutely amazing! I'm a vegetable lover and I can't wait to give some of your salad/veggie recipes a try. Thanks so much for all these great new ideas - can't wait to try the fish sticks, falafel patties, and roasted cabbage to name a few :)

  12. I knew I had to try this recipe when you said it freezes well and is great for lunches. I didn't have any sausage, but I had some leftover chicken and bacon, so I used that in place of the sausage. I also doubled the recipe so there would be plenty for lunches all week. It just came out of the oven and is DELICIOUS! This may be a new standby at our house. I think it would be good with ham or leftover pork as well. Its a good WW recipe too.

    Thanks Kalyn, another great recipe. And thanks for heads up on a good rice cooker mentioned in another post, I've been looking for one

  13. We made this last night and it was an absolute favorite. This recipe will certainly be put in our collection. We served it with a side of steamed kale. Have you ever tried mixing a veggie in? If so, what works?

  14. I'm so glad people are liking this. I like hearing about the variations that people are trying. I haven't tried mixing a veggie in, but I like the sound of spinach as Lady Amalthea suggested, and I think swiss chard, kale, or even cabbage might be good.

  15. This looks fantastic - I'm always looking for ways to use lentils! Love them. (your Spicy Red Lentil & Chickpea Stew is a favorite of mine)

  16. Kimberly, another lentil fan! I love that recipe as well.

  17. I just served this for dinner and everyone went back for seconds!! Thank you Kayln for your amazing recipes!

  18. Carrie, how fun to hear that. I'm thinking I may have the leftovers for my own dinner tonight!

  19. what a shame I am behind in my blog reading - I just used leftover nut roast tonight which would have been a great veg substitute for the sausage - but might even try this with veg sausage - sounds lovely

  20. Johanna, that sounds really great with the nut roast!

  21. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!


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