I found the recipe for this Rosemary Edamame Salad on Food52 (no big shock) and tucked it into the big book of untested recipes stuffed into a kitchen drawer. This weekend, I dug through the book, searching for a Thai Taco recipe I wanted to cook for my Baby Brother In-Law's birthday. I didn't find the tacos, but a handfull of other pages jumped out at me and this seemed like a perfect protein-packed vegetarian lunch. On the first try, I burned the rosemary and garlic (as it turns out, gently saute and sizzling are two different things), but second time around everything worked perfectly. It's the kind of dish that makes staying IN for lunch worthwhile. And oh, the arugula is a must.
Lentils find their way onto so many of those lists of foods we SHOULD be eating but in my house, shoulds are widely ignored. We eat what we crave, and finding ways to make lentils craveable was easier than I ever expected. Over the last year, I've fallen in love with the lowly lentil. From Mujadara (brown lentils, wild rice and caramelized onions) to Moong Dal (yellow lentil soup with carrots and potatoes) to my new favorite Spicy Red Lentil Soup. The pop of fresh herbs and the bite of hot peppers elevate this red lentil soup to a whole new level.
There is something seriously comforting about stew on a rainy day, but for the longest tme, the only stew in my repitore was the standard beef and potatoes. In an effort to branch out, decrease our meat intake and increase the diversity of the vegetables we consume, I plucked a Moroccan vegetable stew from one of our cookbooks and tinkered with it a bit. The result is this Rockin' Moroccan Stew, chock-full of root vegetables, plumped up with chickpeas for protien and sprinkled with spices because, a little spice makes everything better. The recipe is super simple and from start to finish takes less than an hour to prepare. I serve it as a main course, but it would also make a great side and a tasty way to get more veggies onto the plate. You can mix and match your root veggies, use raisins or dried plums if you don't like figs, and up the heat by doubling the amount of crushed red peppers. (Recipe Follows)
Not long ago, quinoa was heralded as NEXT BEST thing the grain/protein of the moment. (That’s right kids, it is a grain AND a protein. How cool is that?) I first gravitated to quinoa last year, when I was looking to expand my vegetarian options and now, I consider it a cupboard staple, something to always have on hand. I’d like to say that I gravitated towards this groovy little grain for purely lofty reasons like my family’s health, a love of kittens and the environment, but in all honesty, I was trying to stretch our grocery budget and honey, meat ain’t cheap.
Despite not being a vegetarian (I hold firm to the belief that until there are no longer more chickens alive than there are people, they have the capacity to turn the tables and start eating us) I have developed a great respect for vegetarian cooking. It is a logical conclusion, I suppose, that vegetarians work a kind of magic with vegetables that omnivores would have probably never gotten around to on their own. The same could be said of vegans, whose dietary restrictions have focused attention on many an underrated and underutilized ingredient. That said, the dish I’ve chosen to sing the praises of today, while being perfectly appropriate for both vegetarians and vegans, comes not from recent culinary advances/explorations, but from way way back and half a world away. It is, some have suggested, the Middle Eastern comfort food equivalent of Mac “N Cheese.
My version of Mujadara (pictured here with chunks of lamb, sweet red peppers and a cool cucumber tzatziki sauce) consists of only three ingredients: wild rice, brown lentils and caramelized onions. I use a little olive oil and Kosher salt when cooking the onions, but beyond that, nada. Seriously, I don’t even use pepper. It is not the most attractive dish, though Rivka at Food 52 makes it almost pretty, but of all the craveable comfort foods I can think of, this one now rates mighty high on my list. There are no hard and fast rules for Mujadara beyond the three-ingredient combination of rice, lentils and onions and so I am not going to give you a traditional recipe. Instead, I’m going to give you this one the way my friend Susanne gives me recipes (My favorite recipe of hers begins with “take a cow and grind it up”), which is to say fast, casual and as if it is the easiest thing ever, because in this case, it honestly is.
1 cup prepared wild rice, ½ cup prepared brown lentils (don’t forget to rinse them before cooking), 1 medium onion (white and yellow are fine, but I adore sweet red torpedo onions for this when they are in season) thickly sliced and sauteed into submission (20 minutes) with olive oil and Kosher salt. Mix all three ingredients together in a dish and let sit for 15 minutes to 24 hours. Serve at room temperature or warm.
This dish holds up fine to the fridge for a couple of days and actually improves with time. I have served it with tzatiki as a side dish, but my preference is actually day-old Mujadara with no fuss, no extras and nothing to get in the way of its super tasty, ridiculously healthy goodness.