Some of our most satisfying and tasty meals have come along when I didn't really have anything specific planned...or have been on the cusp of a major grocery shopping event and low on funds! Using as much as I can out of our pantry on any given night helps to make sure I stay on budget. This meal is defintely one of those quick and cost-effective meals that was very filling and that everyone enjoyed.
There is rarely a moment when you can't find dry lentils, beans and brown rice in my pantry. When you are eating a plant-based diet, these items are absolutely necessary building blocks to any protein-packed meal. I know it's healthier to use ingredients like dry beans and legumes as replacements for meat than to always rely on things like tofu and other fake meats.
For this dish, I used dry lentils, both red and green from my pantry and some cooked navy and pinto beans that were in my freezer. A few aromatics and spices brought the meal nicely together and combining it with some cooked brown rice made it a complete meal, no sides necessary! As most of my meals do, this made enough for two dinners and lunch for my husband on the third day. The only item I had to purchase to create this great dinner was a package of mini sweet peppers at the grocery store for $2.99. Everything else came from my pantry, refrigerator and freezer--items that had been purchased for general use or for other meals. Getting 8-10 servings for only an extra $3 is a total win in my book!
Caribbean Style Lentils, Beans and Rice (Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes Yield: 8-10 Servings, depending on size)
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small or 9 mini sweet bell peppers, chopped (I used a combo of mini red, yellow and orange)
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tbs. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
½ tsp. allspice
Pinch of cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
½ cup dry lentils (I used a 1/4 cup each of red and green lentils)
2 cups cooked brown rice
4 cups cooked beans (I used navy and red)
Fresh lime wedges and cilantro for garnish if desired