Cheesy Lentil Pie
While I was growing up, my mom made this dish called Mush. It was the epitome of comfort food – simple, delicious, and made with cheese. Because we all know that if it’s not smothered in cheese it’s not real comfort food.
The key here is lentils. These tiny legumes are the life blood of frugal cooks like me who don’t love beans but do need vegetarian main dishes.
True credit for this dish goes to another frugal cook, who passed its secret to my mom. The name, however, originated from my dad. When he saw its sloppy, cheesy goodness on his plate the first time, he (affectionately?) dubbed it: Mush.
Despite the dubious nickname, it’s absolutely delicious.
What about you? Do you have any family dishes with questionable nicknames?
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 1 cup rice (white or brown)
- 5 cups water or stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (or more to taste)
- salt (to taste)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
Heat water or stock in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring it to a boil. Stir in lentils and and rice. When it all comes to a boil again, decrease heat to simmer. Cover, and let cook 30-40 minutes, until lentils and rice are tender. Keep in mind that brown rice will take longer to cook than white.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add tomato mixture and salt to rice and lentils. Stir to combine.
Pour the lentils and rice mixture into a 9x13-inch pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.
Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese is melted, bubbly, and awesome.
Serve warm with your choice of sides. Or completely on it's own. We're being frugal here, so no judging.
- Variation - You'll notice this recipe is empty of any flavor pizzaz. It's awesome this way, but feel free to get creative. I like to add paprika, chili powder, cumin, and extra garlic because YES. Top with fresh cilantro.
- Stock - Sometimes I simply cook the lentils and rice with a quarter of an onion and crushed garlic. Minced dried onion and garlic powder works great here too.
- Stock again - If you're crazy like me, maybe you save the liquid from your steamed vegetables. This is a great use for that too.
- Tomato Sauce - You can substitute the tomato sauce for tomato paste whisked with water to make your own sauce. I do this because I love extra steps.
- Just kidding - Tomato sauce usually has extra ingredients, and tomato paste is generally cheaper. You can also substitute canned diced tomatoes.
- WILL IT INSTANT POT? Let me know if you try.
TIP: To make this a freezer-friendly meal, place lentil and rice mixture into a gallon-size freezer bag and label with helpful instructions like I did above. Simply thaw overnight, place in the baking dish, toss with cheese, and bake. Bet it would work in the crockpot too – let me know if you try it!