SF Food Bank Hunger Challenge: Enjoy your lentils, but no caffeine for you!

Ok, so this Hunger Challenge thing…kind of fun really. I like a challenge. I like being resourceful and cooking with what’s available. Until I realize: WHERE’S MY COFFEE??

Ok, now this is bad. I’ll admit, I’m not really strictly doing the Hunger Challenge for a whole week. More like developing some recipes (and of course eating them) and sort of doing it in my own lazy, busy way. But of course this whole thing is meant to raise awareness and it has raised my awareness about how awful it would be to give up coffee, wine, tea, anything but water, because every penny I had needed to go to something nourishing. Think about that for a minute. Then go to The Inadvertent Gardener and read posts about day one and two and caffeine withdrawal

Then, awareness duly raised, click on the Hunger Challenge badge on the sidebar of this blog. Every $1 you give buys $9 in food. If the thought of people going without caffeine (or food for that matter) isn’t enough, Amy of Cooking with Amy has donated 12 cookbooks to go to the first 12 donors from this challenge donating $50 or more. Just fill out the necessary info on the donation page and make a donation of $50 or more. Look for a header on the form that says, “Food Drive/Event Information. Use the drop-down box to select “Bloggers Hunger Challenge.” Be one of the first 12 people to donate $50 or more and you’ll receive a free cookbook as a thank-you.

Now, for today’s recipe:


This is one of my favorite things to make when I want something simple, really good and healthy, and CHEAP. In fact, I make it a lot. We especially enjoy the leftovers formed into rough cakes and fried with an egg for breakfast.

This popular Middle Eastern dish basically consists of three ingredients (lentils, rice, and onions) cooked in varying proportions. This one will set you back 32 to 45 cents a serving, depending on the size of your servings. If you’re lucky you can enjoy it with a little yogurt (which I like) or maybe a green salad or green vegetable of some sort.

Here’s how I make it:

2 large yellow onions, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup regular green lentils
1/2 cup long-grain white rice

Dice one-half of one of the onions and slice the remaining onions very thinly.

In a medium saucepan with a tight fitting lid, over medium high heat, warm one tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the diced onion and stir while cooking until it begins to brown. Add the lentils and rice, along with 3 cups of water and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 or 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are brown and super caramelized. You truly want them on the verge of burnt. This is what gives the dish flavor. This will take about the same amount of time as the lentils and rice will take to cook.

When the rice and lentils are tender, turn off the heat and leave covered for 10 minutes to steam. Serve with the caramelized onions strewn on top of the dish.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Breakfast: looks like oatmeal again
Lunch: another peanut butter sandwich unless there’s leftover soup from last night.

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  1. Posted September 23, 2008 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Stopped by to say hello and good luck. Does this mean you WILL be drinking coffee this week? :)

  2. Posted September 23, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Mary Anne. Oh yeah, I’m drinking coffee. I wasn’t mentally prepared enough be as strict as some of my co-participants.

  3. Posted September 24, 2008 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    I’m jealous — coffee would have definitely made it more of a palatable week! :-) I like the sound of this recipe, too — I’m a big fan of lentils and used them myself during the challenge because they are so cheap and filling and good. I eat them all the time, too, when I’m not challenging myself. I’m going to try this variation!

  4. Posted January 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    thanks for that great recipe, sound good :)

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