Lentil and Spinach Parmesan Bake

August 15, 2011

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The pilot light on our oven is out. And guess when it decided to go out. After I’d prepped this pretty little casserole. That’s right. I cooked and drained the lentils, sautéed the veggies, assembled the ingredients in the casserole pan, and topped it all off with a fine coating of panko and parmesan and then I turned on the oven. But nothing. I twisted the knob again and nothing. No comforting puff of flame, no heat, no smell of gas, nothing. Perfect.

So, I tried the upstairs neighbor. He wasn’t home. So I hiked another flight up and, thankfully, the kind woman on the third floor let me use her oven. But she and her boyfriend were in the middle of taking a nap, so I had to tip toe in, through the dark living room and gingerly slide the casserole dish into the oven, shhhh. Then I padded back down the stairs to my place and waited until I thought it would be done. I wasn’t sure what temperature it should bake at or precisely how long it would take (keep in mind that nearly all my recipes are experiments) and I didn’t want to occupy her oven for too long, so I headed back up after 20 short minutes and, of course,  it wasn’t quite done. Boooo. But what could I do? I graciously thanked her for her kindness, insisting that it had baked long enough, and slinked out of the quiet, dark apartment, elbow deep in oven mits and lugging a very heavy casserole dish down two rickety flights of stairs.

Luckily, the dish tasted good. I didn’t get the golden crust I’d hoped for and the cheese didn’t melt completely, but it was tasty. And I imagine that just a few minutes more in the oven would have done the trick.

Ingredients: (makes 4 to 6 servings)

2 cups lentils

1 cup chopped onions

2 cloves minced garlic

5 oz spinach

1 cup panko crumbs

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Directions: First, cook the lentils by boiling on the stovetop until tender. Drain and set aside.

Next, on the stove top, heat the olive oil, onions, and garlic. Stir fry until onions become fragrant and translucent.

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Add the spinach and cook until wilted.

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Then, add the lentils, salt, and oregano and stir until combined.

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Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with panko crumbs.

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Then, top with grated parmesan.

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Bake at 350 for 25 to 30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the cheese is melted. (Notice that my cheese is not quite melted. Edible, but not ideal.)

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Serve hot with a bit more grated parmesan on top.

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Our pilot light has been out for over a week. I don’t think I’ve ever missed my oven so much!

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  4. Lentil and Rice Salad
  5. Truffle Mushroom Parmesan Deviled Eggs

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie August 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

I made this over the weekend. It was good, but the lentils ended up pretty dry by the time I pulled them out of the oven. Next time I make this, I’ll either add some diced tomatoes to try to increase the moisture, or I’ll just try the broiler to melt the cheese without cooking the lentils very much more. Also, having a layer of panko and a layer of cheese made it so the panko just added to the dry texture and the cheese separated from it all. Next time I’ll combine the two before sprinkling on top. But the flavor was yummy and I love dishes like this!

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Oh no! I’m sorry you had a less than ideal experience with this dish. I love the idea of adding tomatoes for moisture. I also think broiling it to melt the cheese would be great. I think that perhaps using a more melty cheese, like a mozzerella, might work better for the topping. Let me know how it turns out with the changes! :)

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Kerrie August 21, 2011 at 10:03 pm

This sounds delicious! I’d like to try it since I’ve only made soups with lentils. Do you boil the lentils first or put them in dry?

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm

You have to boil the lentils first, cook until they are tender.

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natalie (the sweets life) August 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

this is my kind of meal! easy and healthy and perfect pre-dessert ;)

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The Teenage Taste August 18, 2011 at 8:47 am

I love how you just tiptoed into that woman’s house to slide this into the oven. Totally made me smile. :-)

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 18, 2011 at 11:12 am

Awwww, anything for a good lentil casserole!

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Wendy August 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

This looks delicious, whether cooked to optimal temperature or not! I can’t wait to try it, thank you. Lentils seem to count among those foods that seem to do well hot or cold, too. : )

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Hope you like it! Lentils are versatile, which is why I love them so.

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Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum August 17, 2011 at 10:33 am

I have a bag of lentils that has been sadly sitting untouched for… too long. Usually I love making them but I just haven’t been inspired lately. Now I know what to do with them!

Speaking of inspired… I made a spinoff of your cilantro dressing and posted about it today!

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Thanks for the link love! Your version looks really tasty, I’ll have to try making it soon.

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Ann August 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Great story. It made me laugh and get hungry!

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Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm

Oh no, hope you can get it fixed soon! That so very sweet of your neighbor to let you use their oven though, and this looks delicious!

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 16, 2011 at 4:07 pm

Yes, she really helped me out in a pinch. Thanks for your comment!

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Cubicle.com August 16, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Wow, that looks great! I’ve been trying to incorporate more lentils in our meals, and I think this would be the perfect addition to our weekday menu. Thanks!

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Great! Hope you like it!

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet August 16, 2011 at 8:35 am

Oh no, I hope you get your oven fixed soon! On the other hand, I love this dish. I may try to make it soon!

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Jen @ Keepitsimplefoods August 16, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thanks, Lauren!

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