Red Lentil Quinoa, Not Risotto

Borrowing Italian Risotto cuisine to cook up red lentils and quinoa.

Grains and Pulses provide complete protein.

I made this the other day by accident. It was so amazing, I had to make it again and take pictures to share the recipe with you. The secret is in the cooking. I picked up the technique cooking with an Italian friend. Then made it mine!

Grains and Pulses Cook in Vegetable Juice

This dish uses no water, and unlike traditional risotto cuisine, no broth. The quinoa and lentils cook entirely in the juices of the vegetables, and a little olive oil. The result delivers enough chew to satisfy even the staunchest Chewie lovers among us! And it provides complete protein – even without the optional cheese and eggs – and good fibre , making for an all round healthy meal. And vegan, too, eh! So it’s good for the planet. And what’s good for Mother Earth, must be good for you, eh!

I used a mix of ripe and green tomatoes grown in my friend’s garden – the seconds that need to be used up first.  Tip: small green tomatoes ripen nicely in egg cartons! 

Cooking Instructions (ingredient list follows)

Start by heating the olive oil in a heavy 8-10 inch skillet.

Finely dice a large clove of garlic, and a small onion. Sauté together in the olive oil over medium low heat, until the onion is transparent. While sautéing, add your herbs and spices. A little salt, a couple sprigs of fresh sage, fresh thyme,  a small bay leaf. A couple small carrots (or other root vegetable), thinly sliced.

When the onion is transparent, add quinoa, and lentils. Rinse the grains and pulses in fresh, cool water before adding to the pan. Then sauté them with the onions and herbs while you rinse and dice the tomatoes. I used the seconds, not great for preserving; as well as a couple green ones that I knew wouldn’t ripen well.

Mix all together, and make a dense pile in the centre of the pan, place the jalapeno pepper on top. Put a tight fitting lid on it, turn the heat down low and leave it to cook about 20 minutes. Then check it, toss it, pile it up, again, and put the lid back on and leave it for about 10 minutes…and so on, until it’s almost cooked.

Then pour a little olive oil round the edge of the pan, and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of frozen edamame on top; put the lid back on, and leave it for about 10 minutes.

And voila! The most amazing tasting red lentil quinoa!

If you’re not vegan, sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan. The first time I made this dish, I steamed some baby beets with their tops, and used some of the water from the steamer, and poached 2 eggs on top. 

Hold the grated Parmesan to stay vegan. 


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tablespoons for later in cooking
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 small, yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp salt (a few grains)
  • 2 T chopped fresh sage
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 small bay leaf, or half a big one
  • 2 small carrots, finely sliced (turnip or beets may be substituted)
  • 1/8 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame
  • a couple tablespoons finely grated parmesan

After 3 years with the absolute worst stove of my life, my landlady bought a new one that actually cooks without burning everything (thank you landlady); and I am starting to enjoy cooking again. The first thing I noticed was that the oven really works and the first couple months I made roasted potatoes with everything.  Recipe for amazing oven-roasted fries to come soon! 

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