January 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

This past summer I lived in Brooklyn.  In addition to missing the greatest work crew, lord knows I also miss the food.  Nearly every evening I ate globs of hummus, spoonfuls of cold tzatziki and tall mounds of Middle Eastern salads from two shops – what serendipitous finds! – just blocks from my studio apartment.

After browsing my NYC photos three times this week and learning that my Arizona chum flew to New York and stood mere inches from the Banana Nut muffins at Buchon Bakery – my old stompin’ ground! – I decided to do something about these City homesick pangs! I recreated another old salad-standby from my final hurrah in the Big Apple.

Mujadara has three principle ingredients: rice, lentils and the signature add-in, caramelized onions.  This recipe requires a long, slow onion cook – anywhere from a half hour up to an hour of sauteing.  While that may sound daunting, once the meal gets going it cooks itself, and there are relatively few hands-on tasks.  The onions are sauteed on medium-heat until they turn a dark amber color, almost brown, only requiring a quick stir every now-and-then.  By the time the onions have finished cooking, the rice and lentils will be done.  Dinner will be ready within the hour and it’s delicious, to boot!

In the summer I ate mujadara cold, straight from the fridge (it was so hot I lived in my sports bra and ate a tray of ice cubes at every meal), but in these cooler months I’ve taken a liking to eating this lentil & rice pilaf served warm or at room temperature.

2 large yellow onions
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup brown lentils, dried
1 cup brown rice, dried
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest
1+ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. good paprika, optional
1/4 tsp. garam masala

1.  Using a 2:1 water-to-rice ratio, fill up a medium-sized pot with 2 cups of water and 1 cup rice.  Bring to a boil, cover and lower to a simmer.  Cook until tender.  Depending on the rice variety, this could be anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.  When finished cooking, set aside.

2.  In a smaller pot, cover lentils with 1″ of water. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Cook until tender, approximately 20-25 minutes.  When finished cooking, drain and set aside.

3.  Slice 2 large onions into thin slivers.  Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil on the stove on medium.  Add onions and slow cook, stirring every-so-often, until the onions have completely wilted and turned a dark, amber color (nearly brown), approximately 40-50 minutes.  See photo above.

4.  Meanwhile, chop parsley and grate lemon zest.  Prepare spices.  When rice, lentils and onions have finished cooking, combine with spices and herbs in a large bowl.  Stir until incorporated and taste-test – you may want to add more spices or salt, to taste.  Serve immediately.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free


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