Rice Pilaf with Lentils and Crispy Onions

Delightfully easy to prepare – this one pot pilaf is sure to become your go-to comfort food during the chilly months. Paper thin crispy fried onions give this super healthy dish just the right amount of naughtiness to be crave-worthy. Up the indulgence factor even further by topping with a sunny fried egg. Rice Pilaf with Lentils

Recipe Highlights

  1. Quick healthy recipe needs barely 10 minutes of prep-time.
  2. The main dish requires no chopping and only one pan.
  3. Vegetarian and gluten-free plus a fantastic source of fiber, protein, and iron.

Colorful Lentils

I have been cheating on the final days of summer. I have been bypassing cotton dresses and sandals in favor of lightweight sweaters and my favorite pair of faux leather boots. It’s not that I’m eager to wave good-bye to balmy temperatures and mood lifting sunshine but, the coziness of fall is calling to me.

It isn’t only my fall wardrobe, I have been including autumn inspired comfort foods on our family dinner menu. I call it research, I have to stay a few weeks ahead of trends so I can share recipes that feel timely. However, the truth is I look forward to cozy fall meals all year long.

rainbow lentils

I have been asked if losing weight means I have given up comfort foods. The answer is a resounding “no” but the ingredients in my comfort food have changed somewhat over the past few years.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the joy of eating is based on textures and flavors. The comfort foods I enjoy now have similar starchy textures and sweet or salty flavors. Where they differ is before I may have chosen something greasy that left me feeling heavy and lethargic, now I find comfort in foods that nourish and enliven my body.

Some months ago I begin experimenting with lentils. I was already comfortable tossing a few handfuls into soup but I had a feeling they had much more to offer. I discovered a number of varieties (red, brown/Spanish, Green/French, and tiny black/beluga – like the caviar) in the bulk section at whole foods and scooped up a bag of each for no more than a few dollars a pound.

After using lentils in a number of recipes, both hot and cold, I have concluded that lentils should be at the top of the comfort food list!

rainbow lentils

For one thing they are incredibly easy to prepare. Simply simmer lentils in broth and you’ll have a pot full of, richly flavored, carby goodness. A lentil’s flavor is easily influenced by its cooking liquid. With a little seasoning, you can satisfy a craving for nearly any cuisine. The texture of lentils can range from firm and crunchy to porridge-like, depending on the variety and cooking time.

Lentils are INCREDIBLY HEALTHY! They are one of the greatest super foods you can get your hands on. They are packed with nutrients including fiber, protein, and iron. Lentils are extremely affordable. Easy to cook. And can easily fit with most global flavors. If fear of feeling hungry keeps you from committing 100% to eating for weight loss lentils are your road to lowering your weight with a full and happy tummy.

rainbow lentils

To make sure you fall in love with lentils as a comfort food, I have chosen an easy lentil-rice pilaf. I like it with French lentils, but feel free to use black (Beluga) lentils if you find them first. The pilaf itself can be tossed together in a few minutes then left to simmer while you settle in for the evening.

I did my best to further entice you by topping this one-pot pilaf with a pile of crispy fried onions. Cheap shot? Maybe. But I bet you feel a craving for lentils coming on! If I haven’t convinced you with the fried onions, imagine this bowl of savory goodness under a sunny fried egg.

However you garnish it, this easy lentil pilaf is the Pendleton Blanket of fall foods – you’ll want to cozy up with it until spring.

Rice Pilaf with Lentils

Rice Pilaf with Lentils and Crispy Onions
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
So easy to prepare - this one pot pilaf is sure to become your go-to comfort food during the chilly months. Paper thin crispy fried onions give this super healthy dish just the right amount of naughtiness to be crave-worthy. Up the indulgence factor even further by topping with a sunny fried egg.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 cups
  • 1 cup long grain brown rice
  • ½ cup green (French) lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ tsp Better than Bullion vegetarian flavor
  • ¾ tsp dried Italian herb blend
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced into paper thin crescents
  • cooking oil - grape seed or canola, not olive oil
  • recommended: fresh parsley and diced green onion to garnish
  1. Warm a wide skillet with a lid or a heavy bottomed 3 quart pot over medium high heat. Add the rice to the hot pan and toast the grains, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn golden and become fragrant, about 4 minutes. Immediately stir in the water, lentils, better than bullion, herbs and spices.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium low and cover. Let the pilaf simmer for 35 minutes. During the cooking you may need to reduce the heat again to prevent the liquid from boiling over. Allow the pilaf to rest for 10 minutes after cooking. The rice should be fluffy and the lentils tender with a bit of chew. Garnish with crispy onions and fresh herbs.
  3. While the pilaf is simmering: Prepare a plate with two layers of paper towels and set to one side. In a heavy bottom skillet, heat a ½ inch of cooking oil over medium high heat. The oil should be hot but not smoking. After 3 minutes of heating, test the temperature by picking up an onion slice with a pair of tongs and dipping the end into the oil. The oil should begin to sizzle rapidly around the onion. If it doesn't sizzle wait another minute and retest. If the oil begins to smoke reduce the heat and allow the oil to cool before testing.
  4. When the temperature is just right, place half of the onion slices in the oil leaving lots of room for them to cook without crowding against each other. Stir gently as needed, they should turn brown and crispy in about two minutes. Remove the crispy onions from the oil and place on the paper towel lined plate. Add oil to the skillet and adjust the temperature as needed before crisping the second half of the onions.
In place of the water and Better than Bouillon you may substitute 3 cups of your preferred broth. If using an unseasoned broth be sure to add salt to taste.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup Calories: 89 Fat: .5g Carbohydrates: 17g Sugar: 0g Sodium: 265mg Fiber: 3g Protein: 4g Weight Watchers Points Plus: 2


  1. I wanted to swing by and say that it was such a pleasure to meet you at the Barn2Door dinner in Seattle! Also, this recipe sounds so, so good! It’s going on my must-make list this minute.

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