Lentils with Rice and Tomato Onion Dressing is a classic Peruvian peasant food that’s delicious, filling, and healthy. It can be made with bacon, ham, or left as is for a hearty vegetarian dish.
Lentils – you either love them or hate them. I love them and looked forward to my Mom cooking them for dinner. They’re pretty bland alone, but when you top them with the tomato onion dressing, it takes them to the next level. I mix every forkful with rice and dressing to provide texture and a variety of bright flavors.
This is classic Peruvian peasant food and it’s the type of food I grew up with. If I had to survive on twenty dollars a week, I would buy bags of lentils and a bags of rice and I’d be all set! If you want to splurge, cook it with bacon or ham and you have a hell of a meal. If you do choose to cook it with bacon, sauté the onions and garlic in the bacon fat.
I don’t use stocks or a bunch of seasonings to cook the lentils. I use water and rely on the flavorings from the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper to do their job. The flavor comes from the tomato onion dressing that’s tossed with some red wine vinegar for some zing.
I use sweet vidalia or red onions to make the dressing. If you use red onion, you first “wash” them by sprinkling them with salt and covering with cold water. Then you squeeze them, rinse, and drain. This loosens and removes the membranes making them sweeter. Make the dressing ahead and let it macerate allowing the onions and tomatoes to soften. The juices are drawn out of the tomatoes and mixed with the oil and vinegar which we use to drizzle over the top of the lentils and rice when serving.
You can make this dish 3 ways – with bacon (our favorite), with diced ham, or left alone to make it vegetarian. Whichever way you choose, it’s gonna be great.
Try some of my other simple recipes:
- French lentil soup with bacon
- Sweet potato vegetable soup
- Quinoa salad with orange vinaigrette
- Peruvian oil and vinegar potato salad
- Angel hair with sauteed tomatoes
- Beef and cabbage soup
- Fresh garden tomato salad
- Roasted asparagus with mozzarella
- String beans with ground beef
Life is too short for mediocre food.
Lentils with Rice and Tomato Onion DressingPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- Place lentils in large bowl or 4 cup measuring cup and cover with water. Swish around with your hand to “wash” them. Set bowl or cup down and you will notice floaties rising to the top. Carefully pour out the water that contain the floaties. Repeat and strain.
If using bacon:
- Place bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat and cook until crisp. Transfer bacon to a bowl and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in bacon fat and continue with recipe.
If using ham or making it vegetarian:
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil and saute onions until translucent - about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant - about 1 minute.
- If using ham, add ham and cook until lightly browned.
- Add lentils and 5 cups of water into skillet and stir. Add the granulated garlic, salt, and pepper. I've always added the salt at this time, but you can add it towards the end of cooking.
- Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes until lentils are softened and have absorbed the water. You may need to add more water depending on your heat and simmering temperature. Add 1/4 cup at a time if necessary.
- Stir the lentils, taste, and adjust for seasoning.
Meanwhile, make the Tomato Onion Dressing:
- Add the onions in a bowl. See Note if using red onions. Add tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir in the oil and red wine vinegar and let it sit while the lentils are cooking. You can add a little more oil or vinegar. Taste and adjust to your liking.
- Serve with rice and top with dressing.
**You can use red onion but it is recommended you "wash" the onion by first placing it in a bowl with some kosher salt and water then squeezed and rinsed to remove the harshness of the onions. Rinse then drain.