I don’t know about you all, but I love one pot skillet meals! This simple Southwest Lentils and Rice Skillet was inspired by a protein meal bag that I used to buy in the grocery freezer section. I loved the flavors and combination of ingredients, but I realized that I could make 3 times as much and save more money by making it at home. But the best part about this dish is that it’s a “pantry cleaning” recipe. Meaning most of the ingredients are pantry staples like canned beans and tomatoes, lentils, rice, corn, herbs and spices. It’s truly budget-friendly, super filling, easy to make, and probably your new favorite meal prep recipe! :)
What’s in Southwest Lentils and Rice Skillet?
The good news is you probably already have most of these ingredients for this tasty skillet meal in your pantry right now! So here’s a brief rundown of what you’ll need:
- Lentils & Rice – Lentils and rice are the base components of this recipe and a great combination for a filling meal. There are several different types of lentils, but we used brown lentils and long-grain white rice for this recipe. I’ll provide more details about lentils in the section below.
- Vegetables – I used a simple combination of black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and frozen corn for this recipe. Feel free to use canned corn (drained) or regular diced tomatoes if that’s what you have on hand. Just know you’ll be missing out on the smoky flavor you would get from using fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Red Onion and Garlic – Both of these aromatics add depth and great flavor to the dish. You can certainly substitute yellow onion instead of red onion if you prefer.
- Vegetable Broth – Vegetable broth to cook the lentils and rice and to keep this recipe vegetarian. Feel free to use chicken broth if that’s what you have on hand.
- Spices – Spices like cumin, chili powder, adobo seasoning, and oregano create a bold Southwest-inspired flavor base for this skillet meal.
- Cheddar Cheese & Green Onions – We topped things off with some fresh shredded cheddar cheese and sliced green onions for extra flavor and color.
What Type of Lentils To Use?
There’s usually a wide variety of lentils sold in grocery stores these days including brown, red, yellow, black and french-style lentils. For this recipe you’ll want to use brown or brownish-green lentils which cook with about 20 minutes of simmering and do not require soaking. I don’t suggest using red or yellow lentils for this recipe because they break down quickly when cooked and they don’t hold their shape as well as brown lentils.
Can I use Brown Rice?
This recipe would be a little tricky to substitute brown rice in because brown rice takes much longer to cook than white rice, and it requires more liquid. The longer cook time would also cause the lentils to become mushy. So I recommend just sticking with the white rice for this recipe.
One of the best parts about this Southwest Lentils & Rice skillet is being able to customize it with all your favorite taco-style toppings! You can top it with some cilantro, your favorite cheese, and even a few diced tomatoes.
Or get really fancy with some diced avocado, pickled jalapeños, or a drizzle of lime crema. My personal favorite is to just serve it with shredded cheese, green onions, a side of salsa, and some tortilla chips. Sooo good!! :)
Storing & Reheating
This lentils and rice meal holds up great in the fridge. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. And it’s perfect for meal prep! I’ve meal-prepped this recipe quite a few times in separate storage containers, reheated in the microwave until warm, and boom…a quick and easy lunch or dinner any day of the week!
Southwest Lentils and Rice Skillet
- 1 Tbsp olive oil ($0.11)
- 1 small red onion ($0.42)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1.5 tsp cumin ($0.15)
- 1 tsp chili powder ($0.10)
- 1 tsp adobo seasoning ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano ($0.05)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.04)
- 1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper ($0.02)
- 1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed ($0.38)
- 1 15oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed ($0.79)
- 1 14.5oz. can fire roasted tomatoes ($1.25)
- 1 cup frozen corn ($0.60)
- 2 cups vegetable broth ($0.34)
- 3/4 cup long grain white rice, rinsed ($0.32)
- 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($0.58)
- 2 green onions, sliced ($0.24)
- Dice the red onion and mince the garlic. Add olive oil and onion to a large deep skillet over medium heat and sauté until onions are translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add the cumin, chili powder, adobo, oregano, salt, and pepper to the skillet, stir and toast spices for about 30 seconds.
- Next add in the lentils, black beans, fire roasted tomatoes (with juices), corn, and vegetable broth. Stir everything to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the mixture to come to a full boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. This will allow the lentils to start cooking first before adding the rice.
- After 5 minutes, remove the lid and add the rice. Stir briefly just to evenly distribute the rice, cover with a lid, bring the skillet back to a boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer for 20 minutes.
- While the mixture is cooking, grate the cheddar cheese and slice the green onions.
- After 20 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat and let it rest, with the lid on, for 5 minutes. After it has rested, remove the lid, fluff the rice and gently stir to redistribute the veggies.
- Top the lentils and rice mixture with shredded cheese and sliced green onions. Serve with more of your favorite toppings and enjoy!
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How to Make Southwest Lentils And Rice Skillet – Step by Step Photos
In a large deep skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 small red onion, diced. Sauté over medium heat until onions are translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and sauté an additional 30 seconds. Now add 1 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp adobo seasoning, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper. Stir and toast the spices for about 30 seconds.
Add 1/2 cup brown lentils, one 15oz. can black beans (drained & rinsed), one 14.5oz. can fire roasted tomatoes (with juices), 1 cup frozen corn, and 2 cups of vegetable broth to the skillet. Stir everything to combine. Place a lid on the skillet, turn the heat up to medium-high, and allow the mixture to come to a full boil. Once boiling, immediately reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. This will allow the lentils to start cooking first before adding the rice.
After 5 minutes, remove the lid and add 3/4 cups long grain white rice (rinsed). Stir briefly just to evenly distribute the rice, cover with a lid, bring the skillet back to a full boil, then reduce the heat again and simmer for 20 minutes. While the mixture is cooking, grate 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and slice two green onions.
After 20 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat and let it rest, with the lid on, for 5 minutes. After it has rested, remove the lid, fluff the rice and gently stir to redistribute the veggies.
Top the lentils and rice mixture with the shredded cheese and sliced green onions.
Serve with more of your favorite toppings and enjoy!