Gluten-free Spaghetti, Rice and Lentil pilaf

Halloween food should look scary but still taste good!

When it comes to Halloween cooking, you want your food to look scary but not taste that way. I used to make a “bug salad” a few years back but with barley so it wasn’t gluten-free. However, you could substitute rice or quinoa for it so check it out if you like a coconut flavor with red lentils.

This recipe is my new and improved gluten-free version of what I call Worms and Bugs in Dirt. If you like the recipe and you don’t eat gluten-free, it’s easy to adjust; just use regular pasta and breadcrumbs.

I made it this week to taste-test and get the recipe down. There was only a 1/2 cup left at the end of the meal so I’d say it hit both marks; scary and tasty! But really, it can be served any time of the year.

If you are having gluten-free guests for a ghoulish meal or just want a side dish with more grains and protein, give this a try.

Gluten-Free Spaghetti, Rice and Lentil Pilaf (aka Worms and Bugs in Dirt)

Serves 4

2 cups of low sodium gluten-free chicken or veggie broth
1 1/4  water
1/3 cup brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup long grain brown rice (if you use short grain, add at least 1/4 cup of additional liquid)
1 ounce or about 1/2 cup dry brown rice spaghetti (or any gluten-free spaghetti)
Optional: few strands of saffron (it will give the pilaf a yellow color)
1/2 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (try Schar or make your own)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (for dairy-free, use olive or your favorite vegetable oil)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Ground pepper to taste
Optional: grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat broth and water to boiling in a medium size pot (see note below for tips on using a rice cooker). Add lentils, rice and saffron, if using. The pasta is added later. Stir, cover and bring back to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 25 minutes.
2. Remove cover, add pasta and stir. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If there is still liquid, remove cover and continue cooking until liquid is absorbed. Test everything for doneness. If any of the grains or rice is still crunchy and there is no more liquid, add 1/4 cup and cook another 3-5 minutes.
3. While the pilaf is cooking, place the breadcrumbs in a shallow pan (e.g. round baking dish) and place in a toaster oven or the regular oven (300F) to brown. Crumbs toast quickly so keep an eye on them.
4. When the pilaf is done, stir in the butter, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs.
5. Optionally garnish with grated parmesan or any hard Italian cheese. That’s what you see in the photo!

Note: Rice Cooker Method
Add broth, water, lentils and rice (saffron if using) to bowl of rice cooker plus another 1/4 cup of water. Brown rice made in the rice cooker needs more liquid. Turn rice cooker on and set a timer for 25 minutes. Open cooker and add spaghetti. Stir and close cooker. Prepare breadcrumbs in step 3. When rice cooker is done, leave closed for 5 minutes. Check to make sure all of the liquid has been absorbed.  If for some reason it has not, turn cooker back on for 3 minutes. Add ingredients in step 4 and optionally garnish with parmesan cheese.

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