A couple decades ago, I lived next door to the most amazing Greek woman and her family. I swear she was the neighborhood Yia Yia to everyone she liked. The smells coming from her home were intoxicating! I would be walking home with my daughter after school let out and you just knew where those amazing aromas were coming from!
One day, Im bringing my daughter home early due to chicken-pox! Yia Yia saw us from her porch and gave us a beautiful smile and waved! Within minutes, a knock on the door had come and it was Yia Yia's grandson. He had said, "Yia Yia asked if you girls are ok? She said you had come home earlier than usual and was concerned?" I was so touched by that! I explained to the grandson that my daughter had come down with chicken-pox, so I had to take her out of school. The grandson translated in Greek with what he had learned. The look on Yia Yia's face was just priceless. She shouted from the fence "I take care of you and your girl! Yia Yia get something!" The grandson ran back and fetched a bagged casserole dish and came back over to my door. "Yia Yia said that you dont have to cook dinner tonight. She is sharing her Fakorizo with you!" I got all choked up and thanked both of them for this wonderful meal!
This is my interpretation of how Yia Yia made this as she didn't use any recipes. She was very much a "little this, lots of that" and it was such a special moment for me that she was sharing how she made this dish.
This recipe is written in a way that allows for making adjustments. The recipe will feed six to eight people.
1 1/2 C White rice - extra long grain 1 1/2 C Red lentils - washed and rinsed 4 C + 1 C Water 1 Bay Leaf 3 TB Kosher salt 3 TB Black pepper 3 TB Garlic - minced
1 Celery rib - fine diced 8 oz Bell pepper - fine diced 8 oz White onion - fine diced 8 oz Carrots - fine diced 8 oz Zucchini - fine diced 1/4 C Oregano - dried 1/4 C Mint - fresh, finely chopped 1 oz Chives - fresh, finely chopped
2 Lemons, zest and juice
Lentils need to be washed and rinsed, making sure to remove any stones or other unacceptable material(s).
Mise en place is crucial here - prep everything before starting!
Make sure to make consistent cuts as possible to ensure even-cooking. Set aside.
1.) In a deep sauté pan (with a lid), heat on high, add four cups water, kosher salt, black pepper and garlic.
2.) Add your lentils and rice and bay leaf.
3.) Set your timer for 5 minutes on high heat and cover with a lid.
4.) Once the first 5 minutes are finished, mix well to avoid over-cooking. Reset the timer for another 5 minutes.
5.) Reduce heat to medium. At this point, gently stir your lentils and rice. Add one more cup of water to this pan. Return the lid.
6.) Once the timer goes off, turn the heat off. Reset the timer for another 5 minutes and keep the lid on. This will help finish cooking off the lentils and rice. Once you are at the end of 15 minutes total, remove the lid and gently stir/fluff your lentils and rice. There should be no more fluid left in the pan.
7.) Empty the contents of the pan into a large bowl. Add about 1/3 C olive oil, 2 TB minced garlic, the lemon juice and zest, 1 TB each kosher salt and black pepper to the pan on medium-high heat.
8.) Now toss in your prepped vegetables and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. The onions should start looking almost transparent by this time and will be considered ‘al-dente’. The kosher salt will help draw out some of the natural water of the vegetables to aid in the cooking process.
9.) Add your oregano, mint and chives. Reduce the heat to low-medium and stir to mix the herbs in evenly. Cook for another 3-5 minutes.
10.) Bring your lentils & rice to the pan and mix well.
Serve this with fresh lemon slices. This dish is a wonderful meatless option.
VEGETARIAN OPTION: Add cubes of whole milk feta STANDARD OPTION: Fresh roasted chicken, pork, squid or salmon would do quite nicely with this dish.