How to Boil Lentils, Rice, and Pasta for Koushari

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,208
    Internationally recognized culinary expert Amy Riolo breaks down boiling lentils and pasta for a sauce called Koushari.

    Amy Riolo: Hi! I am Amy Riolo. Today, I am making Vegetarian Lentils with Rice and Pasta in a Spicy Tomato Sauce. Here I have some water that I am just bringing up to a boil. What I am going to do is I am going to boil my rice and pasta and in this recipe, I am going to make the rice the same that way I'll do the pasta. So instead of making rice with double the amount of water and then the traditional method, I am actually going to boil it and then drain it like the way that we do pasta. So this pan is already coming up to a boil and what I can do is salted the water and then I am going to add my elbow macaroni. You could also use Penne or Mezze Penne, which are the half-penny or Ditalini pasta which are the little tubes. In Egypt they use a wide variety of pasta and you can use whatever you like. So I am going to add those right in. I know it sounds weird; the mixture of pasta and rice together in one dish but I promise once you taste it, you are really going to like it. So we are going to just let that boil until its al dente and this is just the way that you would boil any normal pasta is what we are going to do for this. Then we are going to come over to this pot, which is also coming up to a boil and we are going to add our salt and we'll cook our rice in this. Now, Egyptian rice, Egyptians actually have their own rice and this is the rice that was imported to Europe in the 9th century. This rice is a cousin of the rice which makes Paella in Spain and the rice which makes the arboreal rice that they used to make Risotto in Northern Italy. This was something a crop that they gained from the Egyptians in Europe at this time and that's how these rice dishes became so popular in Southern Europe.

    It's a short-grain rice which has a little bit plump and looks, so you can see more similar to an arboreal rice. If you can't find it, you want to use a regular medium-grain rice, that's fine. Long grain is not traditional in this recipe but it would taste good, if that's all that you have you can use that as well. So I am going to add the rice right into the boiling water and I am just going to let it cook. This will be done about the same time as our pasta is done. I am just going to stir that altogether and then I am going to reduce the temperature to a medium and just let it simmer.

    Now that our rice, pasta, and lentils are simmering, we can go ahead and start frying our onions; this is going to be the topping. And this is a very common topping in Egypt and throughout the Middle-East. So I have my saut pan, which is on a medium heat and I am going to add about two tablespoons of Expeller-pressed corn oil. If you didn't want to use the corn oil, you can use Extra-virgin olive oil or any kind of oil that you have is fine. We are just going to let it coat the bottom of the pan and you can see how the oil kind of gets the nice ripples in it, its releasing its aroma so we know that it's ready to add our onions. This is just one medium yellow onion which I have thinly sliced; I am going to add it into the hot oil. And I can tell by the way it starts to cook, if I am going to need to increase the heat a lot. This is simmering but it's simmering in a kind of a slow pace and so I am going to increase my heat to medium-high and I am going to coat all of the onions in the oil. Now you can see as I am stirring these around, how this really kind of sizzling rapidly. So I am going to go back down to medium and that will be the perfect temperature to get these nice and golden brown. And we really let them cook for quite a while. So now you can see we are really getting a deeper golden color and that's exactly what we want. I am going to take a second and just double-check my rice and make sure that that's cooked. And really, the best way that you can do that is to obviously look at it and then taste it. It's nice and tender. As soon as it's nice and tender, I can turn it off the flame and just let it set there and then I am going to stir my onions one more time, and you can see that these are golden. You just want to take them off the flame before they turn black. You want to get them as nice and dark brown as you can without being black. That means that they are cooked, they are going to give the right amount of flavor, they look beautiful because it's a different color and they are not burnt.

    So this is the color that we are looking for with our onions and as you can see, when I want them to stop cooking, I tip the pan sideways, I let the oil come over here because the oil is still hot. So if you keep the oil on the onions which are already perfect, it will burn them. But by separating it like this, you can keep your onions perfect. Now you can either remove the onions into another bowl or you can just set it down like this. Then when the oil is cooled off, you can mix them together one more time before our toppings.

    So now what we are going to do is drain everything and all we have to do is take our rice and our pasta and our lentils over to the sink and we'll drain them each separately and put them back into their pans. And when we come back, I'll show you how to assemble the Vegetarian Rice, Lentils and Pasta with the Spicy Tomato Sauce.