Liven things up at the Thanksgiving dinner table when you make this flavorful Lentil Date Rice. Dates and plump raisins pair perfectly with pillowy grains of rice mixed with tender, green lentils. The variety of textures and flavors in this rice is more than just enjoyable; it’s absolutely irresistible.
Growing up in a multicultural family always meant you were sure to get a variety of unique dishes at the Thanksgiving dinner table. There were classics like roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, but there were also dishes that had friends surprised and ultimately swooning. From re-invented stuffings to sauces that out-shined cranberries, I’ve always had a first look at creative and exotic foods at the Thanksgiving table. My favorite dish has always been my mom’s personal contribution to the mix: a Lentil Date Rice recipe that has stomachs grumbling before it even hits the table! I’ve adapted the recipe from Mom, and I am happy to report that it continues to be a Thanksgiving success at my home every year.
Lentil Date Rice for Thanksgiving Dinner
This lentil date rice is unlike any other rice medley you’ve ever eaten. Unlike other rices, you won’t find any carrots, peas, or mushrooms in it. Instead, you’ll be delighted to find glistening dates and plump raisins cascading down pillowy grains of rice mixed with tender, green lentils. The variety of textures and flavors in this rice is more than just enjoyable; it’s absolutely irresistible. There’s something delectable about the sweet, sticky dates and raisins in the rice that leaves you going back for one helping after another.
I also add crispy onions to the mix of dates and raisins, which not only adds extra crunch, but some salty goodness as well. If you’ve had crispy onions before, you’ll understand just how beautifully they can infuse flavor and transform a dish. Before I serve the rice, I add a generous dose of saffron because of the fragrance and honey-like notes it provides. If you’ve never had saffron before, it’s a powerful spice that’s subtle in flavor, but intoxicating in aroma. It’s the “secret sauce” of this recipe.
Another one of the highlights of this lentil date rice is the fact that it’s friendly for a variety of diets. Not only is the rice gluten-free, it’s also vegan. The truth is, however, people of all diets go crazy for this dish. At my Thanksgiving dinners, it’s often the side dish that trumps all the other ones. So if you’re looking for a unique dish that will pair well with your turkey and impress all of your guests, make sure you give this lentil date rice a try!
- 4 cups basmati rice
- 3 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
- 5 cups cooked green lentils
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 cups sliced dates
- 1 1/3 cups raisins
- 1/2 cup Lars Own® Crispy Onions (or Aldi's liveGfree™ Gluten-Free Crispy Onions)
- Spray 'N' Serve® Saffron Spray
- Rinse the basmati rice under cool running water. Add the rice to a large pot, along with 6 cups of water, the oil, and the salt. Give everything a stir and turn on the stove to high heat. Bring the rice to a boil.
- Once the water is almost below the surface of the rice, mix in the cooked lentils. You want there to be just enough water in the pot so that you can easily stir the lentils into the rice. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Cook for approximately 45 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, create the topping. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the sliced dates and raisins, and sauté for a couple of minutes, until the raisins plump up and the dates slightly soften. In the last 30 seconds, add the crispy onions and give everything a quick stir. Temporarily set this mixture aside.
- Once the rice is tender and there's no longer any water in the pot, pour the lentil rice onto your serving plate, then generously spray the top with saffron spray. Evenly distribute the topping mixture all over the rice. Serve warm.
Home Chef Tip: If you're using saffron threads instead of saffron spray, simply steep 1/2 teaspoon of threads in 2 tbsp of hot water for a few minutes. Scoop a layer of rice off from the top and combine it with the saffron liquid in a separate bowl. Once all rice grains are coated in the liquid, pour the saffron rice back onto the rest of the rice.
We hope you love this recipe for Lentil Date Rice from SoFabFood Contributor, Beeta from Mon Petit Four, as much as we do. If you love this recipe, be sure to check out our other Side Dishes so that you’re always ready for the upcoming holidays. For daily recipe inspiration, like us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, and stop by our Google+ Community to see all of the amazing recipes our community members are sharing. Enjoy!