Carrot & Lentil Rice Pilaf

My Instant Pot gets so much use in my kitchen. Whether it's handling the main course, making stock or yogurt, or handling side dishes, not a week goes by when I'm not using it at least once. And rice is one of my favorite things to make in it. Light and fluffy - even when paired with several other ingredients - means I never bother with boxes of rice mixes any more. In the time it takes me to assemble one of those, I can have a rice pilaf brimming with sautéed onions, lentils, lots of great spices, and a bright and tangy shredded carrot blend that brings both color and crunch to this fantastic side dish.

As is often the case with my recipes, this one can be tweaked. As noted in the recipe, you can use either broth or water when making the rice. The broth gives it more depth of flavor, but also adds calories. You can use brown rice as noted, but a long grain white rice will also work well. You can mix up the seasoning, opt for a different kind of lentil, and even use a different veggie mix at the end. Diced peppers, tomatoes, or even shredded radish all work beautifully. Anything that will soften a bit with 10 minutes of resting with the rice, but keep some texture will do the trick.

This is a powerhouse of a side dish. Serve it alongside any protein source your little heart desires or top it with crumbled feta, chopped flat leaf parsley, diced cucumber and tomato, shredded chicken, and a handful of kalamata olives for a light dinner or lunch. The possibilities are basically endless and, as a result, this particular dish a staple in my home. Enjoy!

Carrot & Lentil Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoon ground cumin - divided
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 ⅛ teaspoon Kosher salt - divided
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 2)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in the pot of your Instant Pot using the sauté setting. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until deep golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin to the pan with the onion. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the rice, lentils, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Add 1½ cup water or broth to the mixture and lock the lid in place. Cook using the rice setting - releasing the pressure once the cycle ends.

While the rice cooks, toss the carrots with the lemon juice, ⅛ teaspoon each cumin and salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl; set aside.

After the rice cycle has ended and the pressure is released, add the reserved carrot mixture and stir well to incorporate. Allow the mixture to rest with the rice for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes