Lentil, Spinach and Brown Rice Casserole

Here's a quick post with a nice winter casserole for you.  Like many casseroles, this one takes a short time to prep but then cooks for an extended time in the oven.  I adapted this recipe from my new favorite cookbook that I mentioned previously - The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, A Complete Nutritional and Cooking Guide for Healthy Living by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. I can't say enough good things about this book.  It is billed as "Over 300 delicious whole food recipes including gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and egg-free dishes."  And they are right. 

The first part of the book is a section entitled Whole Life Nutrition which has 5 chapters: The Whole Diet Story, The Whole Food Sensitivity Story, Digestive Health, The Whole Toxicity Story, and Organics, Your Health and the Planet. They review the variety of "diets" people aspire to eat:  the principles, theory, considerations, and benefits.  Diets reviewed are Veganism and Vegetarianism, Raw Vegan, Mediterranean, Traditional Foods (Westin Price Foundation), and Paleo.  Sadly they don't talk about Macrobiotics, although most of the recipes work well for a macrobiotic approach.  Even though I have studied food and health for years, I found this discussion to be informative, unbiased and science based.  The second part of the book is dedicated to a whole foods approach, how to make the change, how to stock your kitchen with both equipment and ingredients,  and definitions of cooking techniques.  The third part is the recipe section which includes all the usuals like soups, salads and vegetables, but also cultured foods, healthy snacks and nutritious desserts. There is a chapter on fish, poultry and meat so there is something for everyone. There are lots of pictures of the food so you can get inspired as well as know what you are aiming for in cooking a recipe.  I don't get anything for promoting the book, I just like it.  It is an excellent resource for anyone that is trying to eat for good health and change their diet to include real, whole foods, and no refined sugars, flours, or other processed food.  

For this dish you saute onion, garlic and carrots.  Add some spices and some frozen chopped spinach.  Stir in uncooked lentils, rice,  and water or broth, then cover and cook in the oven until the liquid is absorbed and everything is tender.  This takes a long time (90 minutes or longer) but you can just put it in the oven and forget about it.  Perfect for a Sunday afternoon.  Prep it midafternoon and let it cook and by dinner time it will be ready.  Serve with a salad with a tart, mustardy dressing and you are all set.  I first made this with garam masala which is a spice blend that has some sweet notes like cardamom and five spice and it was not my favorite. It is much better when made with the curry powder. You could also change the profile altogether and put chili powder, more cumin and smoked paprika to make it taste Mexican.  Or use oregano, add some black olives and top with feta cheese and call it Greek.  It really is easy if you plan ahead.  I always soak my rice to make it more digestible and remove a chemical that interferes with the body's absorption of magnesium, but you can skip that if you forget.  It is a one dish wonder....brown rice, lentils, and vegetables.  Win-win! 

Lastly, a sweet kitty picture just 'cause. 

Lentil, Spinach and Brown Rice Casserole

by Catherine Craig

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 90 minutes

Keywords: bake entree gluten-free vegan brown rice lentils spinach fall winter

Ingredients (4 -6 servings)

  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp garam masala or curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils, washed and picked over
  • 1/2 brown basmati rice, soaked for about 4 hours, drained
  • 4 1/2 cups water


Preheat oven to 350.

In a large oven proof pot or Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil. Add the onions and saute for 3 to 5 minutes, until nicely softened. Add the garlic, carrots, thyme, garam masala, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt. Stir well to coat everything with oil and spices, and the mixture is fragrant. Saute 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the chopped spinach, breaking up any chunks with your spoon.

Cook until the spinach has thawed and mixture is sizzling again.

Add the red wine vinegar and cook briefly, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the lentils, rice and water. Mix well. Cover.

Place in the oven and cook for 90 minutes without opening the lid. Serve.

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