Rice and Lentils with Ham

Ready to dig in and eat!
Ready to dig in and eat!

As promised in my Roasted or Cider-Braised Ham blog, here is the recipe for one of the leftover meals from an article in the April-May issue of Fine Cooking. We had enough leftover ham from the main menu to make two of the “Lucky Leftover” meals and a ham bone for soup. This Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe is definitely a “keeper” and easy to make for a weekday dinner.

Ham brings a salty-sweet savoriness to this twist on the Arabic dish mujaddara, a mix of lentils, rice, and aromatics found throughout the Middle East. Serve with a fresh green salad.

Prepped ingredients.
Prepped ingredients.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 saffron threads
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils (lentils du Puy) or brown lentils
  • 3 cups lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 3/4 lb. leftover ham, glaze removed and chopped (2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. white balsamic vinegar
All the seasonings simmering in oil.
All the seasonings simmering in oil.
Green lentils added to the seasonings.
Green lentils added to the seasonings.
Carmelized onions.
Carmelized onions.


  1. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, sugar, pepper, saffron, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until a shade darker, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the lentils, and then add the broth. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, bring back to a simmer, and then cook, covered, over low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice and lentils are tender, about 22 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and ginger, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook, stirring often, until very browned and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  4. When the rice and lentils are ready, sprinkle the ham on top, cover, and set aside off the heat to warm the ham through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Use a fork to fluff the rice-lentil mixture, and season to taste with salt. Serve topped with the onions and sprinkled with the vinegar.

Don’t wait around until you have ham leftover from some other dinner. You could always buy a single pre-cooked ham steak and cut that up. And if you don’t eat pork, try using a smoked turkey steak instead!
Next time, I would start cooking the onions and ginger before other ingredients because they did take over 30 minutes to caramelize. In fact, turn up the heat to medium-high, stirring often, to cut down on the cooking time.
Oh, and don’t omit the final step of adding the white balsamic vinegar because it really does add a wonderful depth of flavor.

Skillet of finished Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe.
Skillet of finished Rice and Lentils with Ham recipe.

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