A Reflection on Eating Simply
by Barb Szyszkiewicz
I invited my neighbor and her daughters, ages 11 and 15, to join us for dinner the night I prepared this recipe. The girls wanted to help me cook, so I wound up directing traffic, handing over ingredients and equipment, and reading recipe instructions instead of cooking the meal myself.
We had a lot of fun while we cooked; the 11-year-old learned to use a garlic press and a mezzaluna, and the 15-year-old displayed excellent knife skills while finely chopping the green onions. Our conclusion: this recipe was simple enough for middle-schoolers to cook, under the direction of an adult.
Everyone was eager to try the finished dish. It’s super filling; a bowl with about 1 1/2 cups of rice and lentil mash was plenty even for the adults. While the recipe states that it feeds 4 to 6, we fed 3 adults and 2 big kids and still had about 4 servings left over for the next day’s lunches.
The bunch of green onions I had on hand was not very large, and neither were the garlic cloves I still had left. We used a few more garlic cloves to make up for that, but I did not add anything to make up for the lack of onion, though I considered dicing up a regular onion and sauteeing it for this dish.
I shared my reason not to add that extra onion with my assistant chefs: we were cooking a meal in solidarity with people in impoverished communities, so we needed to proceed under the assumption that the ingredients in the list were the only ingredients available. Not everyone has the luxury of running to the pantry and grabbing an extra onion; not everyone has a pantry.
Rice and lentil mash is very inexpensive to make and easy to prepare. The foodies around the table offered suggestions and notes for next time:
- Use regular onion instead of green onions
- Add even more garlic (the general concensus was that you can never have too much garlic!)
- Since the recipe makes a lot, you’ll need more salt and pepper than you think you will
- Cook the dish in vegetable stock instead of water
Fry the egg separately (sunny side up), then place it on top of the rice and lentils and chop it up in the pan.
When you try this recipe, keep in mind that you’ll need a really big pan to hold it all. I have an enormous, extra-deep saute pan that holds at least 5 quarts and it was almost full!
from CRS staff in Laos
- 1½ c rice
- 1½ c lentils
- 5 c water
- 1 bunch spring onions, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 eggs, whisked
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 T fair trade olive oil
- Parsley (to garnish)
In a large pot, cover lentils and rice in water and soak for 10–15 minutes. Next, bring water to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. In a separate pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil until translucent, then add to rice-and-lentil mixture. Season to taste. While stirring, slowly pour whisked eggs into the rice-and-lentil mixture; the egg should spread out in “ribbons.ˮ Add parsley to mixture or as garnish to each plate. Serve hot.
About the Author:
Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, freelance writer, and editorial consultant at CatholicMom.com. Her three children range in age from middle school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb volunteers at the school library and is a music minister at her parish. She is also an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Barb blogs at FranciscanMom.