This Brown Lentils with Carrots, Orzo and caramelized onions dish has been one of my family’s favourite Cypriot dishes for years.
The addition of carrots and serving them with caramelized onions on top, add a lovely sweetness to the dish and an intense depth of flavour.
My mother would make this dish, with any kind of small pasta, instead of adding rice, (see Fakhes Moutjentra) and the first time I ate them with carrots was at my sister Zoe’s house.
I love dried legumes, especially lentils and if I were to chose between a meat dish or a legume dish, I would definitely choose the latter. This is one of the reasons I have made so many twists to the classic Cypriot dish.
This is a very easy dish to prepare and you can make half of the preparation ahead if you like.
However, it is advisable to add the orzo just before serving as like any other pasta, orzo will continue cooking and absorbing the juices from the food and will become dry.
Brown Lentils with Carrots, Orzo and Caramelized Onions
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 45 minutes upto 1 hour depending on the lentils
- 200 grams brown lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- Water to cover them
- 3 small carrots coarsely grated (about 1 cup)
- 600 ml water
- 400 grams fresh tomatoes grated or the same amount of tinned tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
- Salt and freshly grated black pepper
- 1 cup medium orzo (195 grams)
Caramelized onions: Ingredients:
- 4 red onions, cut into slices
- ½ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- A pinch of black pepper
- 1 tablespoon petimezi (grape syrup or molasses)
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onions, stirring regularly for about 15 minutes. When they lightly start to brown remove half of them and set aside.
- Season the remaining with salt and pepper. Add the balsamic vinegar and petimezi (grape syrup) and stir until the juices are absorbed and the onions become caramelized (total time about 30 – 40 minutes).
- Simultaneously put the lentils and bay leaf in a pot and add water to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the bay leaf.
- Put them back in the pot, together with the grated tomato and grated carrots and water. Bring to a boil and simmer until lentils are almost cooked (about 30 minutes). Add the lightly browned onion and continue cooking for fifteen more minutes. (If we started cooking early, at this point we can stop cooking until it is lunch time. All we have to do is to bring it back to a boil again).
- Add orzo and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring regularly until all juices are absorbed.
- Serve with the caramelized onions on top.
You can find many more Greek recipes in my cookbook “More Than A Greek Salad”, and “Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!” both available on all Amazon stores.
Other relevant recipes:
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,