Rice and Lentils

READY IN: 1hr 48mins




  • Drop the pancetta into the food processor bowl, and pulse several times, to chop the meat into small bits.
  • Scrape all the chopped pancetta right into a heavy 5- to 6-quart saucepan.
  • Put the onion, carrot, celery, and sage leaves into the empty food processor bowl, and mince together into a fine-textured paste or pestata.
  • Put the butter and olive oil into the saucepan with the minced pancetta, and set over med-high heat.
  • Cook, stirring, as the butter melts and the fat starts to render.
  • When the pancetta is sizzling, scrape in the vegetable pestata, and stir it around the pan until it has dried and begins to stick, 4 minutes or so.
  • Clear a space on the pan bottom and drop in the tomato paste, toast it in the hot spot for a minute, then stir together with the pestata.
  • Increase the heat, pour in the wine, and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost completely evaporated.
  • Pour in 8 cups of hot water and the tablespoon of salt, stir well, and heat to a boil (add all 10 cups of hot water if you want to serve the rice and lentils as a thick soup rather than a denser riso).
  • Cover the pan, and decrease the heat slightly, to keep the water at a moderate boil, and let it bubble for 20 minutes or so, to deepen the flavors.
  • Stir in the lentils, return to a gentle boil, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils just start to soften, 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in the rice, return to a bubbling simmer, and cook, cover ajar, until the rice is al dente, 13 minutes or so.
  • If the dish is thickening more than you like, lower the heat and cover the pan completely.
  • If it seems too thin, remove the cover and cook at a faster boil.
  • When the rice and lentils are fully cooked, turn off the heat.
  • Stir in the scallions and grated cheese.
  • Serve in warm bowls, passing more cheese at the table.