CFR

What to do With Small Bits of Rice, Lentils, Beans & Quinoa

I know that I’m not the only person who finds herself with a bin of small bits of legumes and grains in the pantry or cupboard. Somehow we end up with a bunch of bags or packages, each with small amount that’s not enough to make a meal out of on its own. Last week I pulled four such packages out of my pantry. I had black lentils, black quinoa, wild rice and chestnut lima beans. Each package had about a half cup in it, so I decided to combine them all together, add some frozen chopped kale, roasted garlic, and lemon juice and call it a side dish!  And since grains, lentils and beans expand when cooking we had a bunch of this odd-bits-from-the-pantry dish, so that lead to stuffed peppers the next day, which were even better than the original side dish. I offer this not as a measured out recipe, but as inspiration for what you can do with your own odds and ends.

Knowing that the beans would take longer to cook, I soaked them for an hour in warm water and then cooked them for an hour on their own. Next I added the lentils, rice and quinoa and cooked it all for about 30 minutes. The garlic and tamari was added next with the kale, and everything stirred and cooked another five to ten minutes. Finally, the lemon was squeezed over all just before this was served. We ate the mix as a side dish with fish and it was delicious.

Here are my odds and ends of grains and beans.

Here are my odds and ends of grains and beans.

I added frozen chopped kale from the garden, roasted garlic (also from the garden, roasted fresh and frozen for future use) some tamari and lemon juice.

I added frozen chopped kale from the garden, roasted garlic (also from the garden, roasted fresh and frozen for future use) some tamari and lemon juice.

The odds and ends side dish - yummy.

The odds and ends side dish – yummy.

The next day I took some of the leftover grain/legume mix and put it in a bowl. I added chopped parsley, and two cheese. I used some goat cheese and some grated mozzarella.

I spooned that mix into some bell peppers that had been cut in half and their seeds removed. These were baked for about 25 minutes and just before serving I put a dollop of crème fraîche on the top.

I have to say that the combination of the sweetness of the peppers, the hardiness of the grains and the creamy cheeses was perfect. We ate this as an entree and I'd make this again, even if I didn't have leftover beans and grains!

I have to say that the combination of the sweetness of the peppers, the hardiness of the grains and the creamy cheeses was perfect. We ate this as an entree and I’d make this again, even if I didn’t have leftover beans and grains!

2 comments to What to do With Small Bits of Rice, Lentils, Beans & Quinoa

  • Joyce

    You are a good cook because you have IMAGNATION, fearlessness to combine anything, and great presentation on pretty plates or with garnishes. You inspire to experiment in the kitchen as well as most of us find it fun combining previously-unthought-of plants in the garden, C.L.!

  • Thanks so much, Joyce! I guess that what I try and do here is not just present recipes that people can follow exactly, but to get people thinking about cooking as a creative experience similar to gardening. You start with a few given ingredients (what’s in your cupboard or out your back door) and go from there! Bless your heart for noticing.