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Wild Rice & Orzo With Beluga Lentils

Wild Rice & Orzo With Beluga Lentils

I was first introduced to the mouthwatering combination of wild rice and orzo in the fabulous cookbook by Andrea Chesman called “366 Delicious Ways To Cook Rice, Beans, And Grains.” It is a great book to have in your arsenal and one I highly recommend when trying to include more beans and whole grains in your diet. Many of her recipes are on my shortlist for quick yet nutritious and flavorful midweek meals.

Several years ago, however, I decided to tweak the original recipe. As lovely as the original is I wanted to make it a more complete meal as opposed to what felt more like a side dish. In that process I all of a sudden remembered what was my all time favorite street food when I was a student in Cairo, Egypt, way back in the late nineties. The cheap, nutritious, and out-of-this-world tasty dish called Koshari. Koshari combines regular rice with brown lentils, chickpeas, and macaroni and tops it off with a flavorful tomato sauce and fried onions. Simple, cheap, nutritious and sounds downright boring, right? But I’ll say it again: out-of-this-world tasty! Just what a poor student needed.

Wild rice and orzo meets Koshari

In my updated version of Andrea Chesman’s wild rice and orzo dish I give a shout out to that lovely Koshari of my wild youth, by adding lentils. But unlike the brown lentils used in Koshari I use Beluga lentils because they come across as more luxurious (read not so everyday-like) but mostly because they keep their shape really well when cooked. Brown lentils are softer and mushier once cooked. Puy lentils, another small and firm lentil type, will also work well here if you can’t find Belugas but do steer clear of red lentils which will turn into a mushy porridge and completely alter the overall texture of the dish.

Why lentils? Because they are a good source of protein and as such make the dish a more complete stand alone meal. I could have added chickpeas instead of lentils – or both chickpeas and lentils as in the good old Koshari – but that would have made it a completely different, maybe less sophisticated? kind of dish.

What to serve with it?

For a quick midweek meal I’ll serve this updated wild rice and orzo dish with a simple green vegetable like steamed asparagus or broccoli, or maybe wok-flashed green beans, plus a large green salad or a tomato and fresh basil salad and of course some lovely crusty spelt sourdough baguette. If I’ve got more time on my hands I’ll serve it alongside a piece of grilled salmon or maybe some crispy tofu. It also goes very well with my sesame-crusted tofu (and its spicy wasabi dipping sauce) or red wine braised tofu steaks (coming soon!)

alt="a big bowl of wild rice, lentils and orzo with red pepper, purple onions, and green celery."

Wild Rice & Orzo with Beluga Lentils

Dea Zoffmann
An uncomplicated highly nutritious dish full of flavor.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup Beluga or Puy lentils
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 large long red pepper, diced Use red bell pepper if that's what you've got
  • 1 celery stalk, halved lengthwise and then diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 handful fresh thyme, parsley, dill, or basil
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper to taste


  • Combine the wild rice and lentils in a saucepan and add at least three cups of water plus a little salt. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 25 minutes until both rice and lentils are cooked but not mushy. Drain and rinse in cold water. set aside.
  • In a separate saucepan cook the orzo in salted water according to directions on the package but stop short of the full cooking time. It should be firm al dente as they will receive a second cooking later on. Drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
  • While the rice, lentils, and orzo are simmering clean and dice your vegetables. Also mince the garlic.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the vegetables, the garlic, and the dried thyme. Sauté for about five minutes before adding the cooked wild rice and lentils, plus the orzo. Stir to mix well before adding the soy sauce and the sesame oil. Mix well and finish the dish by stirring in the fresh herbs. Season to taste with pepper and additional soy sauce or salt, if needed, and serve with steamed vegetables, a large salad and nice crusty sourdough bread on the side.
Keyword beluga lentils, orzo, wild rice

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