Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake

4.65 from 128 votes
2 hours 20 minutes
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Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake is cheesy, delicious meatless comfort food even a carnivore will love and is super easy to prepare!  Simply combine everything in a baking dish, pop it in the oven and let it bake away while you do other things.

“LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! It’s easy and healthy!”

Photo of Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake on blue background with some served up into bowls.
 

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Oh, the lentil joy!  It seems like forever that my hubby and I have been making this dish!  My husband and I began making this casserole back in my vegetarian days.  We’ll just say those days were a long time ago so as not to date me.

The recipe we originally followed is “Lively Lentil Bake” from Hot, Spicy and Meatless, Over 150 Delicious, Fiery and Healthful Recipes by Dave DeWitt, et. al., the folks behind Chile Pepper Magazine.  This collection of spicy vegetarian fare was published in 1994 and we’ve used that cookbook a lot.

This Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake is one of our favorites when we’re both busy and don’t have a lot of time to prep and cook.  Quite often, we already have the ingredients on hand in the pantry.

The only fresh things you need is an onion, green bell pepper and cilantro for garnish if you like.  It’s very easy to make minor substitutions as this is a versatile and forgiving recipe.

How to inspect lentils for debris:

One thing you always want to do when working with lentils is to look them over well for stones, twigs and odd-looking shriveled ones because those can be stone-like.

What I do is:

  • Place a small amount–about 1/4 cup–on a plain white paper plate.  A white surface makes debris easier to find.
  • Look them over for any odd things and discard.
  • Then, gently fold the plate to guide them into your pot or into a bowl.
  • Repeat with the remaining lentils.

Photo of brown lentils in glass jar.

How to make Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake:

My recipe is significantly different from the original in the cookbook, however, the procedure remains the same:

  • Combine all the ingredients in the baking dish!
Photo of ingredients for Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake.
  • Cover and let it bake away while you do other things!  About all you make dirty in the process is your knife and a measuring cup.
Photo of ingredients for Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake combined in white baking dish before being baked.
  • Stir once during the baking process.
  • Add cheese near the end and top with cheese at the end.
Photo of baked Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake with serving spoon garnished with cilantro.
Close-up photo of Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake with some served to expose interior.

Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake for the win!  Little to no effort and you have a cheesy, vegetarian dish even a carnivore would love!

Photo of one serving of Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake garnished with cilantro.

For more great vegetarian casseroles, be sure to try my:

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Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake - Overhead shot on blue background with some served up into bowls

Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake

4.65 from 128 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Southwestern Lentil and Brown Rice Bake is cheesy, delicious meatless comfort food even a carnivore will love and is super easy to prepare!  Simply combine everything in a baking dish, pop it in the oven and let it bake away while you do other things.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Vegetarian / Vegan Entrees
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 245 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 large onion - (or 1 medium onion), finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper - chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils
  • 3/4 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15-ounce) petite diced tomatoes - undrained
  • 1 can (4-ounce) diced green chiles - undrained
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning blend - or another Southwestern-style blend
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme - leaf–not ground
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 2 cups shredded cheese - Monterey Jack, Pepperjack or white Cheddar, divided
  • Chopped fresh cilantro - for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine all ingredients, except the cheese, in a deep 2-3 quart glass or ceramic baking dish and mix well. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 1/2 hours, stirring once while the mixture is baking.
  • Remove the foil, stir in half the cheese and place the remaining cheese over the top.
  • Return to oven (uncovered) and bake until cheese has melted, approximately 20 minutes.
  • Allow to stand 10 minutes before serving.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.

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Notes

FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Bake and thoroughly cool.  Store in airtight containers and freeze 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  Reheat in the oven, toaster oven or microwave.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 29mg | Sodium: 1131mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 643IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 227mg | Iron: 3mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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182 Comments

    1. Hi, Deb, Thanks so much for your question. I tried it once from everything being raw/uncooked and it did not work out well. However, I have not tried it since with cooked lentils/brown rice and then heated through but I think that would work out much better. If you try it that way, would you let me know how it went? Thanks so much!

  1. 5 stars
    Delicious! Added black beans as we don’t have chilis widely available where I am. Will be making this again!

  2. 5 stars
    We absolutely love your recipe! We made it for our sons and their wives and every bite was gone at the end of the evening!! My husband was very upset there were no leftovers and said if we do it again for them I have to double it!! We’re not vegetarian or vegan at this time but found this when we were and kept this recipe. Thank you!!

    1. Hi, Stephanie, Thanks so very much and so happy everyone enjoyed! You could certainly make it for the two of you and if you don’t get to it all, it does freeze very well. Thanks again!

  3. 5 stars
    I just made this and it is so good! I am not a Vegetarian BUT I eat so little meat (never red meat) that most people think I am. I fill my plate with so many veggies that are hot, cold, cooked and raw that I don’t miss meat. This recipe took my eye and I had to make it. I am so glad I did! Delicious! I go to a once a month dinner gathering with about 12-16 people. Every month it’s at a different house and we each bring something. There is someone who is a vegetarian and me who always eats the veggies. They attempt to make something for the “No meat eater” but aren’t terribly creative. This dish is going with me to the next one!! It will be a hit with everyone because they always like what I make. Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I’m looking forward to finding some more of your recipes to try.

    1. Hi, Connie, Thanks so very much and so happy you loved this recipe!! I know what you mean about the lack of creativity but bless their hearts for trying. Some years ago I was vegetarian and was served plain hot pasta in a hollowed-out raw green pepper in a restaurant. 🙂 Thanks again so much!!