Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recipe: Lebanese Lentils, Rice and Carmelized Onions

I always get the best recipes from my Mom. She is a vegetarian so she is always searching for recipes with lentils and beans. This is one of my new favorites. It is delicious. The cumin and cinnamon add such great flavor! Nick and Summer love it, too, which makes it 3 for 4 (Ellie gets leftovers or pasta).

Lebanese Lentils, Rice and Carmelized Onions (Mujadar)
(6 servings)

1 cup brown or green lentils, sorted for debris and rinsed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds (omitted because I didn't have)
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (1-inch) cinnamon stick (I used from my spice jar)
2 tablespoons pine nuts, optional (I did use these)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (omitted)
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional (omitted)

1. Throw lentils into a medium saucepan. Fill with enough cold water to cover the lentils by about an inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, as the lentils cook, grab a large skillet. Put over medium-high heat and add the oil. Allow the oil to warm for a minute, then drop in the cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns and cook, shaking the pan once in a while until the cumin seeds darken a touch, about 1 minute.

3. Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often (about 15 minutes). Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the boom of the pan. You'll know they're done both by their deep chestnut color and by the slight crispiness developing on some of the onions.

4. Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions to a paper towel-lined plate; these are for garnish later. Sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick; saute about 1 minute. 

5. Add the rice and cook, stirring often until some rice grains start to brown. Add the cooked lentils, 3 cups of water and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt; bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so that the pan is at a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender. (If there is still too much water in the bottom cook for another 5 minutes).
6. Meanwhile toast the pine nuts, if using, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, shaking often, about 5 minutes.

6. Taste the rice for seasoning. Serve with the reserved carmelized onions, toasted pine nuts, if using, and a little squeeze of lemon juice. You can also serve with some dollops of Greek yogurt.


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