Island Rice & Beans

It seems as though every culture has its version of rice and beans. This recipe hails from the Caribbean where it’s commonplace to use pigeon peas. You’re probably thinking of pigeons you see in Central Park or Rittenhouse Square, which is why I’ve swapped the pigeon peas for lentils. You’re welcome!

Don’t worry if the lentils  still retain a bit of texture in this recipe. They’re supposed to be a bit al dente.

You will probably have leftovers, and that will make another dinner or brown bagged lunch. Just toss in leftover cooked veggies and/or chicken or other protein, and reheat. Don’t forget to use up the leftover Curry Butter from the Tilapia with Mango Salsa recipe. You’re welcome . . . again!


Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (see chopping an onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced (see mincing garlic)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • freshly chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish, optional


1.Rinse the lentils in a sieve, checking for small pebbles. See the photo below with the microscopic pebble sitting alongside the strainer at the bottom right of the picture.

2.Cook the onion and the garlic in a saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

3.Add the remaining ingredients (except for the parsley garnish), mix well, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat (called simmering), and cook for another 20-25 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and let stand, covered, for 10-15 minutes before serving. This additional wait time gives the lentils a chance to finish cooking and soften. The lentils might still be a bit firm, but they’re supposed to be for this recipe. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley or cilantro if you have some on hand.

Grocery Bag: Island Rice & Beans