The Austerity Kitchen Challenge: Lentil and Brown Rice Salad

illustration of yellow lentils

Jacob sold his birthright for a pot of lentils; and, during the rebellion of Absalom, Barzillai brought them as a gift to David. Aristophanes rejoiced in his newly found fame as it meant he would never again consume a lentil. “Now that I am rich,” he wrote, “I will no longer eat lentils.” During the nineteenth century the Welsh used lentils as cattle fodder and Romans served salted lentils at funeral banquets.

Lentils have indeed enjoyed a varied and wondrous history. They were a staple among the lower classes, who enjoyed them with everything from sauerkraut to richly pungent blood sausages. They could be stored many years and transported vast distances. Ranging in color from black to red to a brilliant marigold yellow, they are praised in a Hindu proverb as being the very staff of life.

For this month’s Austerity Kitchen Challenge, the Kitchen has developed a recipe for a lentil and brown rice salad, which can feed four or five people for under $5.00. The amount of rice and lentils can be easily varied to suit your tastes and needs, and you can prepare the mixture ahead of time and serve it over salad throughout the week. Serve lentil and brown rice salad with warm pita bread and hummus.

Lentil and Brown Rice Salad

6 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked brown lentils
2 large onions, chopped into large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3-4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro (optional)
2-3 heads of romaine, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
2 cucumbers, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
chili powder
salt to taste

Brown the chopped onions in olive oil in a large pot. Add sugar, cilantro and cider vinegar. Stirring constantly, cook for three minutes over low heat. Turn off heat. Add cooked rice and lentils; mix thoroughly. Add salt to taste.

Toss romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion in a large salad bowl. Sprinkle chili powder over salad. Put salad on serving plates, top with lentil rice mixture and pour dressing over the entire salad.


2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove crushed garlic (optional)

Mix olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and garlic together until blended. Pour over lentil and brown rice salad. Amounts can be varied to suit taste.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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