Lentil Pilaf, Side Dish

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Updated 2022

Need something warm and filling to round out your plate?

This lentil pilaf side dish is great for those avoiding simple carbohydrates. It would also easily convert to a vegetarian/vegan dish simply by switching to vegetable stock. I pull out this recipe as the temperatures start to drop. I particularly like it next to the slightly sweet vegetables of Autumn (squashes, pumpkins, roasted vegetables). Whipped sweet potatoes work really well as an option here

Just for the record, I’d like to note that lentils are not the world’s most photogenic legume, but that doesn’t lessen their appeal.

Yield: 6 servings

Lentil Pilaf

Lentil Pilaf

A simple blend of vegetables bring flavor to lentils making a side dish that is a perfect complement to your fall and winter dishes.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups chicken stock or broth or one can + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 bell pepper. diced, any color
  • 1/2 small or medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1  carrot chopped
  • 1 rib celery, optional
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup or so mushrooms, roughly chopped *OPTIONAL*
  • 2 tablespoons. olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice if you use a fresh lemon, just use half the lemon and squeeze through your hand to catch the seeds
  • salt and fresh ground pepper to taste


    1. Heat the chicken stock and lentils to boiling, reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
    2. Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and give it a moment to heat.
    3. Add the diced onion, carrot and optional celery to the pan and cook for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally.
    4. Once the onion and carrot start to soften, add the bell pepper and garlic. Stir occasionally until the bell pepper starts to soften.
    5. Remove from heat and add the mushrooms, if you would like and give it a good stir. When the lentils have simmered for twenty minutes, remove the cover and add the cooked vegetables and lemon juice.
    6. Stir well and continue cooking over low heat until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
    7. Salt and pepper to taste.

What do I need to make lentil pilaf?

The old picture kept for posterity,

Lentil Pilaf

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18 thoughts on “Lentil Pilaf, Side Dish”

  1. I looooooove lentils! This may be the first recipe I make when I can add legumes back to my diet (next week!) Every time I make something like this, though, the lentils get all mushy. Delicious! But mushy. Any tips for keeping that from happening?

  2. This is perfect timing. I need something to fool my wife – who is a fully grown adult woman and not a bratty 4 year old, I might add, although you;d never know that if you heard our conversations about dinner! – into eating something a bit healthier, and I think this might slot right into my plans. Totally making this tonight.

      • Oh it gets better.

        When I told her what we were having tonight, she wrinkled her nose and then this happened:

        "You want me to eat what?"
        "I told you I was adding crumbled bacon, right? You cannot POSSIBLY object to bacon."
        "No, but lentils? Why would I eat those?"
        "Besides the fact that they are tasty and good for you? Okay, just answer yes or no. Do you like peppers?"
        "Do you like onions?"
        "Yes, but…"
        "No, just say yes or no. Do you like mushrooms?"
        "Do you like chicken stock in everything from soup to risotto?"
        "Do you like carrots when I put them in soups and corned been & cabbage?"
        "Well, the only possible objection you may have is the lentils, and since you aren't four, you;re going to try to eat them and be adult about it. You eat like a 400 pound neophobic child, woman, and it's gotta stop."
        "Fine. I'll try it, but i reserve the right to order a pizza if I hate it."

        Seriously. She's 37. If I left her to her own devices she'd eat mac & cheese from a box, frozen swedish meatballs and little powdered and chocolate doughnuts Every. Freaking. Day. God knows I love the woman but she drives me nuts at the dinner table! 🙂

        • SUCCESS! She ate it and liked it.

          Changes I made: Added ham cubes and made it a main dish. Also added a small amount of hot pepper flakes into the lentils about halfway through cooking.

  3. If you use balsamic vinegar in place of lemon juice – it's amazing. Balsamic takes lentils to a whole new level. (Now, there's a sentence only a cheap-o nerd would write!)

    Cook lentils just like rice to keep them from getting mushy. 1 c. lentils, 2 c. water, cover, bring to a boil for a minute, turn to low for 20 minutes. You can even cook lentils in a rice cooker. I usually cook lentils and rice together at the same time!

    • I will definitely try that. That reminds me. I *still* haven't posted my balsamic reduction technique. It's one of the most simple tricks in the world and takes a lot of vegetables from ok to WOW.

    • Lentils in the rice cooker! Brilliant!

      I've only just discovered the rice cooker, and it's my new favorite gadget in the world. Along with it, I discovered Lundberg Organics Short Grain Brown Rice. WOW.

      I love to make Mujadarra (onions, rice, lentils), but the timing is complicated because I use brown rice, so it takes twice as long to cook as the lentils. Delicious!!

    • Thank you for the 2:1 tip!
      This recipe doesn’t actually list lentils as an ingredient so I didn’t know. My husband always makes lentil soup with the whole bag so I wasnt sure…

  4. Lentils would be an entirely new territory for my crew. Howecer, anything with red pepper and pig is usually a go with them, so I'll try it that way. Also, any help at all with taking veggies "from ok to WOW" would be super.

  5. okay, I know this posting was from a long time ago but I still must comment:

    I love my rice cooker and we love lentils. I can't wait to try it. We will have lentils on next week's menu.


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