Rice And Beans a la Foo Foo?

 The good ole rice and bean dish is about to go to the head of the fancy class and find its right place amongst your white linen, fine silverware, and crystal wine goblet. Yes, what you see is plain and simple, delicious, guest impressive, and nutritious rice 'n beans.

Did you know that most of us eat with our eyes before our stomachs? It's true, we tend to judge how good and appetising something is by how it looks on our plates before our taste buds tell us otherwise. If something looks good on your plate, you will enjoy it much more than if it's slapped together like you remember of your school cafeteria lunch line. Furthermore, we tend to savor the dish considerably, thereby eating it slower, resulting in a smaller portion satisfying us. End result is fewer calories and fewer inches. That is one of the secrets of the French and why they tend to stay trim, although a nice bottle of red doesn't hurt either.

At first sight, you were probably thinking oh my gosh that looks complicated to make. Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember, this blog will stress simplicity in the kitchen. Presentation is 75% of the battle and preparation is the other 25%. So are you ready? Let's get our ingredients together first. Remember in my previous post I discussed how to make molds? If you haven't read it yet, go back and do so now. Here's what we need:

1 home made (or store bought) metal mold - tuna can works great for this
1 cup of French lentils (they're more round and stay firmer than flat traditional ones)
1 cup of long grain wild rice
2 cans of chicken stock and 1 cup of water
1 med red onion, chopped
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced (that means chopping them into tiny tiny pieces)
2 med carrots sliced lengthwise and then chopped
4 med white or dark mushrooms, cut in halves and then sliced
1 med ripe tomato, chopped, seeds and all
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp Dijon style mustard
1 tbsp tomato paste (I buy a tube and store it in the fridge and use it when I need a little)
1 med zucchini sliced lengthwise with a peeler (so it makes very thin slices)
1/4 cup of olive

Here's a little secret that makes cooking in the kitchen easy and a lot less stressful. Do your preparation work before you even turn the stove on. So now take and do all your slicing, chopping, mincing, and measuring, and get that all out of the way.

Assuming that you're finished preparing everything, now get a medium size pot and over medium high heat, pour the olive oil in. Allow the oil to heat up a bit and then add your onions and your garlic, let cook for a few minutes till the onions start getting translucent. Now add your carrots and stir. Cook for a few more minutes. Next, add your mushrooms and tomato, stir. Lower your heat to medium now.

Now you are going to add your rice and lentils; however, first I want to talk about what to look for. As I mentioned earlier, be sure to purchase French lentils. They are more round, darker, and stay firmer during cooking. I believe they are also richer tasting. As far as the rice is concerned, be sure to use long grain wild rice with the husk still attached. You'll get a better taste and more nutrition that way. The husk will provide you with a ton of fiber, but don't worry.

Now go ahead and add your rice and stir well. Before you add your lentils, make sure that you have rinsed them with cold water. Add your lentils and stir. Once the ingredients have been well incorporated, add your 2 cans of chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, and tomato paste. Again, stir until well mixed. Over medium heat still, bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover your pot and lower the heat to low. Let cook about 30 minutes and check, stir. Keep a close watch on the level of liquid. Cover, cook for another 15 minutes and check. If it looks like you need a bit more liquid, pour some of the water you have set aside. Cook covered another 15 minutes and then add your parsley. Add salt and pepper and taste for correct seasoning level. Check for doneness. The lentils and rice should be al dente now. You may cover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes and by then most of the liquid should have been absorbed. Remove from heat and keep lid on. Set aside for 15 minutes to allow a bit of cooling and setting.

Now you are ready to put your dish together. Get a dinner plate and center your mold. Using a spoon with holes in it, begin to fill the mold to the top. Pat it down so as to squeeze remaining liquid out through the bottom of the mold. Fill the mold a little more and repeat. Your mold should now be well packed. Holding the mold in place, pick up the plate and swirl it around until the liquid has covered the bottom of the dish. Once satisfied, go ahead and slowly lift the mold. Now take your zucchini slices and cover the sides until it goes all the way around. You have made your first serving. It should take only about 2 minutes or less for each plate. Add a sprig of parsley on top for garni.

This should serve 6 people. Serve with some nice crusty bread and a glass of burgundy. This dish can be served as an appetiser or an entree. If an entree, serve with a couple of skewers of broiled lamb or chicken on the side. This dish will cost you a whole $1.13 per serving! Enjoy. (photos by Dominique Roche)


  1. Wow...I can't wait to make this dish for my family. Not only is it healthy, but it looks great! Thanks Dominique.


  2. Another yummy recipe from Nick!, I love it, am a big fan of rice and lentils.