Lentil and Parmesan Pilaf

I don’t know what Easter dinner looks like in your household (if you celebrate), but in my family, it’s never predictable. Sometimes it’s an Indian feast. Sometimes is a table full of the garden’s first spring veggies. Sometimes it’s ham. And sometimes it’s vegan. I guess that’s what you get when you have a family of eclectic tastes, diets and backgrounds.

The people joining me at the dining room table always change from year to year as well. Sometimes it’s my Aunts and Uncles from down South (rest assured, ham will be on the table in this occasion). Other times it’s my brother’s new girlfriend (this one’s vegetarian, woohoo!). Sometimes it’s just my mom and dad (and whatever wine they picked out). My only consistent memory of our annual Easter/spring celebrations is deviled eggs, but even that could be questionable this year, given I may have finally grownup, fully left the house, and stopped convincing my mom to get the egg dye out. Although, perhaps that can still be arranged. My sister’s three little kids are the perfect excuse for me to be a kid again too.

Anyways, this year I’ll definitely be contributing something vegetarian to the table, and it quite possibly might be the recipe you see below. Lentils work wonders when trying to feed a crowd, and this particular recipe is a definitely a winner. The first time I tested this out, I wasn’t prepared for the quantity I would end up making. I was left consuming these lentils, in various forms, regularly for a week. Not until the very end had I had enough. That’s got to say something, right?

Feel free to keep things nice and toasty in the pan if you want the cheese to be melted, rather than softened, at the end. Otherwise, make sure to bring the lentils to room temp. before adding the Parm.

Lentil and Parmesan Pilaf

Yield: Serves 8


  • -2 cups lentils
  • -3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • -1 onion, diced
  • -2 stalks celery, diced
  • -2 cloves garlic, minced
  • -2 tsp. salt
  • -1 tsp. ground pepper
  • -1 tsp. dried thyme
  • -1/4 cup. tomato paste
  • -8 oz. button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • -2 cups shaved Parmesan cheese
  • -1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • -1 cup brown rice


  1. In large pot, bring 8 cups of water and lentils to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 25 minutes, or until lenders are tender but not splitting apart. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, in large saute pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions and celery, and cook 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook until celery is tender. Stir in tomato paste, and cook another minute.
  3. Add mushrooms, and cook until tender and water is cooked out, about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and transfer mixture to large bowl. Add lentils to vegetable mixture. Let cool to room temp.
  4. Once cool, add Parmesan. Either serve atop rice, or mix rice into the lentils. Serve topped with toasted walnuts.

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  • Reply
    April 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

    This looks really good. I love the walnuts in there too. I like that it can be served room temp. That makes it easier to make ahead for the holiday meal.

  • Reply
    April 3, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Ours is usually a shoulder, or a leg, of lamb – we adore lamb, being Welsh and all. This looks lovely though, truly fantastic – lentils are some of my favourite types of food.

  • Reply
    Nicole, RD
    April 3, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    I adore my family, but I wish they were more like yours when it comes to food! This looks SO good! And…I HATE hot cross buns. They’re so icky and we have them every year for Easter :-/

  • Reply
    The Candid RD
    April 4, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Our Easter is typically somewhat predictable; there is always chocolate involved because my aunt loves to make chocolate bunnies, typically there is carrot cake, always fruit salad, ham, and something with egg (I wish it was deviled eggs!). This week I made deviled eggs with hummus for a sample at work. I used hummus instead of mayo. They were a HUGE hit!
    Great recipe here. I’ve seen a lot of lentils in recipes, yet I’m still afraid to use them in cooking because I’m afraid Nick will refuse to eat them!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

    Never had lentils with mushrooms and parmesan before, sounds interesting and delicious. thanks for sharing the recipe must give it a try 🙂

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