RICE WITH LENTILS AND CRISPY ONIONS

Serves 2 as main dish; 4 as side dish.

Note: Add more water and this becomes a soup. Add more rice and it becomes a pilaf for a side dish. Don't add salt or lemon juice until the lentils are cooked, or they may not soften properly. For the same reason, use tomato purée without added salt. From "The Islands of Greece," by Rebecca Seal.

• 1/2 c. green or brown lentils

• 1/3 c. long-grain white rice

• 1 large onion, finely sliced

• A little olive oil

1 tsp. tomato purée or paste (not with added salt; see Note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Lemon juice to taste

Greek yogurt or feta cheese, for serving

Finely chopped mint or parsley leaves, for serving

Directions

Check package of lentils to see if they require soaking overnight and rinsing. Many types of green lentils do not, but if yours do, follow the directions. When ready to cook, soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes, drain and rinse twice in fresh water.

In a nonreactive (non-aluminum) saucepan, gently cook the onion in oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes until deep golden brown. Stir often to ensure it doesn't burn.

Remove half the onion and set aside. Add the tomato purée to the pan and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the lentils to the pan with enough hot water to just cover them. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on type of lentils you are using. Stir occasionally and add a little more water if necessary.

When lentils are tender, add the rice and a few more tablespoonfuls of water if the pan is too dry. Cook the rice for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally (soaking the rice will allow it to cook faster). Season to taste with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serve scattered with the reserved onions (reheat them if necessary), adding a spoonful of yogurt or some crumbled feta or fresh herbs, if you like.