Today’s fast and easy dinner idea comes from Daneen Akers, author of the blog  It’s based on a taco salad she had growing up called “haystacks”, and she created a healthy vegetarian version using two of our favorite time-saving products from Trader Joe’s: frozen Organic Brown Rice and refrigerated Steamed Lentils, both pre-cooked.  Daneen writes, “There are quite a few things I cook that I don’t think I would if I had to prep everything from scratch. My new favorite dish from TJ’s to feed a crowd is a brown rice and lentil dish using their pre-cooked lentils. It’s been a big hit every time, and it’s quite healthy.”

We tried it for dinner last night, and our whole family enjoyed this healthy twist on taco salad.  The kids enjoyed assembling their own haystacks and picking out their choices of toppings.  All combinations were delicious!

Judging from how popular pre-cooked brown rice and lentils are at Trader Joe’s (I always spot people stocking up on these two items – they seem to fly off the shelves!), I’m guessing this dinner idea will be popular with Trader Joe’s fans.  Thank you, Daneen, for the recipe!  And for even more ways to use steamed lentils, check out our cookbook for soup, salad, and wrap ideas using lentils.

Healthy Haystacks

A Mediterranean Lentil Supper
by Daneen Akers


  • 1 pkg Steamed Lentils, available pre-cooked in the refrigerated case
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 cups chopped onions
  • 1-2 cloves crushed garlic, or 1-2 cubes frozen Crushed Garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce or Starter Sauce
  • 2 pkgs frozen Brown Rice, cooked according to instructions
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Your choice of toppings – suggestions include:

  • feta cheese
  • avocado chunks
  • Greek olives
  • chopped lettuce
  • Persian cucumbers
  • salsa


  1. Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat.  Sauté onions and garlic until onions are soft.
  2. Toss in lentils with vegetable broth and Marinara.
  3. Cook until lentils are heated through and sauce is combined.
  4. Assemble haystacks by putting brown rice in bottom of each bowl.  Top with lentils and your choice of toppings.
  5. Sprinkle with lemon juice and drizzle with olive oil.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Serves 6