Brown Lentil Mujadarah – [Or, A Little Word On Entertaining] – CYOB

Create Your Own Bite, The New Bite

This one dish meal is sweet, nutty, and full of flavor. Even halved, this recipe easily serves four people.

Create Your Own Bite #11

Brown Lentil Mujadarah

Adapted from Michael Natkin’s cookbook, Herbivoracious.

3 Cups of White Onion, Chopped

1 Tablespoon Butter

1 Tablespoon Oil (Or, 2 Tablespoons of Oil and No Butter for a Vegan-friendly version.)

1/4 Cup White Wine

1/2 Cup Brown Lentils

1/2 Cup Baby Bella Mushrooms, Sliced

1 Cup Brown Rice

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

Salt and Pepper to Taste

2 Tablespoons Parsley, Chopped, for Garnish

This recipe was supposed to make 2 Servings of Mujadarah, but could easily feed four.

Estimated Calories: 315

On the top of my Christmas/Hannukah list this year is Herbivoracious, a healthy-choice cookbook with all the glossy, full-color images you can feast your eyes on.

A wonderful friend from my hometown came to visit me in Boston the other day, and we hopped in to Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Newbury for a late afternoon bite. While there, we rifled through some of their vegetarian cookbooks to get some dinner inspiration. My friend picked a recipe for Mujadarah, a Middle-Eastern one dish meal. Mujadarah is a hearty vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free meal that consists of carmelized onions, rice, and lentils.

As I’ve been on a serious mushroom kick this summer, I tossed in some sliced baby bella mushrooms just to round it out.

Even though we halved the recipe, this towering plate still easily served four – and there was plenty of rice and lentils leftover that we didn’t mix in with the vegetables.

Start this dish by melting the butter down in a large skillet with the onions. Stir occasionally, until the onions become transluscent, approximately twenty minutes.

Meanwhile, cook both the rice and the lentils in separate pots. The lentils should be cooked al dente, just past the point when they loose their gritty crunch.

Before you embark on this dish, make sure you have all of your pots and pans cleaned. 


As the rice and lentils are cooking, turn the heat up on the onions and continue stirring for another twenty minutes, or until the onions are browned and very sweet. Feel free to toss a few pinches of brown sugar in to the mix for some extra carmelization. Pour in the wine to deglaze, or remove the carmelized residue from the onions, to make a pan sauce.

This is also a great opportunity to pour your friends, and yourself, a glass of wine.

Here, we added the mushrooms, cooking until they were soft and thoroughly incorporated with the onions.

The mushrooms, once cooked, should be similar in texture and color to the onions. Golden brown and soft, they add a heartiness to the pilaf.

Once the rice and lentils are cooked, combine them in a large mixing bowl with the spices and half of the onions and mushrooms. To plate, pile the mixture in a mound, and top with the remaining vegetables. Sprinkle the parsley over the Mujadarah, and around the base of the mound.

If you’re looking to entertain a group of friends, this dish is a fabulous way to satisfy everyone’s dietary needs, and fill everyone’s stomachs. Herbivoradcious recommends passing around a bowl of Greek-style yogurt with  this dish, for your guests to mix in as they please. The tart, refreshing yogurt serves as a wonderful contrast to the rich flavors of the Mujadarah.

If you’re having a big group over, double the recipe (which should serve eight) and toss together a salad of romaine lettuce, halved cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers and parsley leaves for a light, crisp contrast. Between the Mujadarah, the yogurt, and the fatoush-inspired salad, everyone will have more than their fill of a balanced, healthy meal.

Until next time, I’m off to find another little bite!



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