Monday, April 28, 2008

Making mujaddara

I first ate mujaddara at the River Cafe in Hallowell, ME. It was an amazing combination of sauteed onions, lentils, rice and spices. It was love at first bite. As a result, I fell head over heels for this sweet Lebanese eatery that knew how to feed plant eaters. I'm so sad it's no longer around.

Thankfully, mujaddara is one of the simplest things you can cook. And it's wonderfully versatile. At the River Cafe, they plated a steaming serving of mujaddara and topped it off with a fresh salad and a tangy vinaigrette. But that's just the beginning. I've served it as a chilled salad with chopped vegetables or hot in pitas with lettuce and tomato. The next day, I saute the leftovers until crisp and serve with homefries and fruit for breakfast. Here, I rolled the fresh mujaddara in a tortilla, burrito-style, added lettuce, tomato and a fresh dressing.

Maine Mujaddara

1 cup dried organic lentils
1 cup organic brown rice
4 cups water
1 large organic onion, diced
1/2 cup organic olive oil
1/2 tsp. organic garlic powder
1/2 tsp. organic onion powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add two cups of water to two stock pots. Add the rice to one pot and the lentils to the other. Bring each pot to a boil, reduce heat to low and allow to simmer with the lid slightly askew. Cook for 35-45 minuts. Meanwhile, add a tsp. of so of olive oil to a cast iron frying pan. Saute the onion until translucent and brown. When all the water has been absorbed by the lentils and the rice, turn off the heat. Mix the lentils, rice, onions, olive oil and spices. Heat a large cast iron pan until it's almost smoking. Add a whole wheat tortilla and toast on each side. Place the mujaddara in the center and top with whatever you have on hand, such as lettuce, tomato, shredded carrots, pickles, olives or avocado.

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