Caramelized Beet-Lentil Pilaf

caramelized beet lentil pilaf
Photo: Justin Walker
Prep Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins

Simple, affordable, and a complete protein—there's a reason why rice and legumes are a staple meal in so many different cultures. Here, tender white rice and quick-cooking lentils make a hearty and satisfying vegetarian bowl. To dress things up and deepen the flavor, quick-cooking grated beets were caramelized and then simmered them with the grain mixture, and it's all topped off with a dollop of creamy yogurt and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper.


  • ¾ cup brown lentils, rinsed

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium golden beet, greens and stems chopped, root peeled and coarsely grated

  • Kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 cup long-grain white rice

  • Yogurt, for serving

  • Aleppo pepper, for serving


  1. Add lentils to a small saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Cook until lentils are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes; drain.

  2. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, grated beets, and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes.

  3. Add 1 teaspoon salt, cumin, and rice and cook until rice looks opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is crisp-tender, 15 minutes.

  4. Uncover and top with beet greens. Cover and cook until greens are bright green and tender, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve with yogurt, Aleppo pepper, and a drizzle of oil.

Cook's Notes

If the greens don't come attached to your beets, Swiss chard will make a fine substitution.

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