The first time I made this original recipe, it was a total disaster.
That really inspires confidence and makes you want the recipe, right?
Never fear, I’ve not only added tomato sauce, chicken, stock, and cheese, but I’ve also upped the spices considerably and offer both Mexican and Italian versions, PLUS I adapted it for the slow cooker. It was originally a simple pauper’s meal, low on the budget but also on flavor, and now it’s even simpler to put together but gets accolades whenever I serve it to the family.
Don’t Let Disasters Get in the Way of Good Food
The first time I tried the baked version, the rice and lentils didn’t get cooked, and I had to decide between crunchy rice or a very, very late dinner. We ended up with both, as I baked the dish twice as long as it called for and still had underdone rice.
I’m not sure what made me try it again, but the remix has become a staple in the rotation, perhaps because it’s so easy and uses a lot of ingredients I often have on hand. I’m always trying to think of ways to use up my shredded chicken from the whole chickens I buy to make homemade chicken stock…which of course wasn’t even in the original uber-simple recipe. For an easy meatless meal, you could certainly omit the chicken.
In keeping with the “Keep it Simple” theme for this week, I’m happy to share this simple slow cooker meal with you. I think it will be the first one I make when we introduce rice after the grain-free experiment. I was tempted to jump into that this weekend, but I’m sure we should have more than one week with the legumes brought back in before foraying into “real” grains. We’ve already introduced lentils – here’s how I use lentils and some other recipes.
- ¾ c. dry green lentils
- ½ c. brown rice
- 1 c. water
- 2½ c. homemade chicken stock
- 1 c. tomato sauce (8 oz. can) or 1 6-oz. can tomato paste + and extra ½ c. stock
- ¾ c. chopped onion
- 1 c. of chopped green or red pepper
- 1 grated or finely chopped carrot
- 2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
- optional: other vegetables like spinach, broccoli
- 3 tsp. Italian seasoning or taco seasoning
- 2 cloves crushed garlic or ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- Dash pepper
- 1 c. grated cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar, but Mexican blend with the taco seasoning or mozzarella with the Italian is also great)
- Combine rice, lentils, and water in the slow cooker following this rice soaking method.
- Allow to soak overnight with the machine turned off.
- Drain the water off (save some for next time; see method), then add all the other ingredients except the cheese to the slow cooker and mix well (use a non-metal spoon for most ceramic slow cookers).
- Set slow cooker to high for four hours or low for 8 hours, adding cheese about a half hour from the end of the time.
- Serve with salsa and sliced avocados for the Mexican version, and optional warmed spaghetti sauce with the Italian is great.
2 Tools for Real Food Success:
It’s never easy to keep up with real food goals! If my meal isn’t planned ahead and/or I don’t have the right food on hand, it’s SO tempting to give up and grab convenience food!
I have to almost trick myself into getting it right sometimes…like this:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(free shipping too!)
But if I forget to plan ahead, all that amazing meat just sits in the freezer! Enter Real Plans, an online meal planning software that is probably smarter than I am.
I can enter that cut of meat along with my food restrictions and find the perfect meal, then generate a shopping list, multiply it by 4 if we have company, and enter my own fav recipes too.
Real Plans takes the stress out of meal planning and puts the nourishing food BACK on your table. There’s a plan for every diet type:
Recipe inspired by Cents to get Debt Free, where almost everyone loves her recipe. I must have been a fluke! But I’m glad for the disaster because it pushed me to make it much, much better in my humble opinion.
See my full disclosure statement here.