Meatless Monday Mujaddara

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This recipe  for Mujaddara came from Food52;  it was a contest winner for good reason.  To read the recipe does not begin to describe how delicious this is.  You have to make the yogurt sauce to go with it.  Don’t skip that step, Catherine.  (I hate it when she doesn’t follow the recipe.)  The caramelized onions add such depth of flavor to the lentils and rice and  it’s made even better with the addition of the yogurt sauce that is cool, bright and sultry, like me.  It’s the perfect combination of flavors that make it utterly satisfying without being too heavy.  Like me.DSC_0036
I also roasted eggplant and cauliflower and tossed it with some kale sautéed  with ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander and a little curry powder, to serve alongside the mujaddara.   This would also be a great to make ahead meal to be packed up for lunch for a few days.  Just don’t forget to pack the yogurt sauce, Catherine.  Sheeesh!
-Andra
Mujaddara  by Rivka from Food 52
3/4 cups Puy lentils (aka French lentils, the tiny dark brown ones)
1 teaspoon salt, divided1 cup jasmine rice2 tablespoons butte3 tablespoons olive oil6 cups onions (about 3 medium onions), halved and thinly sliced
For the yogurt
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground, if possible)1/2 teaspoon coriander (freshly ground)1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika or aleppo pepper3 tablespoons chopped fresh mintJuice and zest of half a lemon1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.Put lentils, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 4 cups water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer lentils until soft but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Rinse pot.Add rice, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 cups water to the pot, set over medium heat, and bring to a boil. When water begins to boil, cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 17 minutes (the tried-and-true Amanda Hesser method!) until perfectly cooked. Remove from oven, uncover, and fluff with a fork. Set aside.While rice cooks, set a wide, deep sauté pan over medium-low heat and add butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter has mostly melted, add onions and toss to incorporate with butter and oil.  After 5 minutes, onions will have softened slightly and started to release their liquid. Raise heat to medium and cook 10 to 12 minutes more, until onions are very soft and browned. Add water by the tablespoon if pan gets too dry or if onions start to stick. When onions are well browned, add last tablespoon of olive oil and raise heat to high. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom layer of onions has charred and crisped; try not to stir too much, or onions won’t crisp up.Combine rice, lentils, and most of the onions in large serving bowl and let sit for at least 15 minutes, to marry the flavors together. (Truth be told, this dish improves with age.) Taste, and add more onions if desired.Meanwhile, make the yogurt: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. (Yes, it’s really that simple.)If mujaddara has cooled significantly, reheat in a low oven or even in the microwave for a couple minutes. To serve, plate a big scoop of mujaddara and top with a dollop of yogurt.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Pasta

We went apple picking yesterday and got this butternut squash for dinner while we were at the farm:

I used it to make a fall/winter favorite by roasting the squash and an onion and tossing them with hot pasta, goat cheese and pine nuts. It’s such an easy meal and probably my favorite way to use butternut squash, as you can see here.  Now we just have to find a way to eat all those apples.

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta

1 Butternut squash, peeled and diced

1 onion, diced

6 oz goat cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp chopped rosemary

3 oz toasted pine nuts

1 lb dried pasta, preferably short

Preheat oven to 400°.  Toss diced squash and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper on a sheet pan and roast until starting to caramelize, about 20 minutes.  While the vegetables are roasting, cook the pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta water.  Toast the pine nuts in a warm skillet for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.  After draining the pasta, add the squash and onion mixture, goat cheese and pasta water and toss over low heat until the ingredients combine and the sauce thickens.  Finish with more crumbled goat cheese, chopped rosemary and the pine nuts.

– Catherine

Tomato, Leek and Corn Tart

I love Martha’s Tomato Tart recipe, and didn’t think it could be improved upon.  But, last night I had lots of tomatoes, leeks and fresh corn, so I combined them into an adaptation of Martha’s recipe.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say I improved Martha’s tart, because I don’t want her to stop reading this blog, but if you want my honest opinion, check out my other blog, http://www.marthasrecipesthatImadebetter.com.

Tomato, Corn and Leek Tart

1 small head of garlic

2 large tomatoes, thickly sliced, about 1/4″ thick

2 ears of fresh corn

2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

4 ounces of fontina cheese

1/2 cup of ricotta cheese

1 egg

1 pie crust (either store-bought roll-out or homemade version)

Preheat oven to 400°.  Cut top of head of garlic off to expose cloves and drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil and roast until fragrant, about 20 minutes.  When garlic is cooled, remove cloves and use a fork to make a paste.  Lightly spread garlic paste on the bottom of pie crust.  Meanwhile, sauté leeks in olive oil until soft, adding the fresh corn kernels and thyme for just a minute or two at the end.  Add slices of one tomato to crust followed by the leek and corn mixture.  Combine grated fontina, ricotta and egg and add to the pie dish on top of the corn and leek mixture.  Top with slices of the second tomato.  Bake until top is bubbly and beginning to brown.

– Catherine

Linguine with Fried Eggs and a Weekly Dinner Evolution

My husband ran the Wildwood Half Marathon here in New Jersey on Sunday morning.  I wish I could say that running 13.1 miles was something unusual for him, but he does it most weekends.  He just usually does it alone.  On the occasion when he’s running an official race, we treat it like a special occasion and do unusual things like skip Happy Hour and eat as many carbs as possible the night before.

We’ve talked a lot about what constitutes the best pre-race dinner over the past year.  Andra is convinced that the unique combination of complex carbs and protein in Polenta, Swiss Chard and Eggs makes it the best choice.  I’m convinced it should be meatless, but I still vote for pasta.  As of Saturday night, I believe we have a new winner.

I made a variation of Mark Bittman’s Spaghetti with Fried Eggs.  In the step where the olive oil is infused with garlic, I added a sprig of rosemary.  I didn’t have spaghetti, but I loved the heartier linguine with it.  I used five eggs for one pound of pasta and there was enough for the four of us with seconds and leftovers.

The run went so well that we didn’t skip happy hour on Sunday.

For dinner on Sunday, I made our weekly staple, “Quiche with Whatever You Have Without Going to the Store”.  (That’s the official name of it.)  We eat this often, as you can see here and here.   Here’s the rundown of the easiest, last-minute dinner (other than pasta) in my repertoire.

Preheat the oven to 375° and defrost the frozen (gasp), roll-out pie-crust.  Crack six eggs and whisk them with a cup of cream, salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg.  Roll out the pie crust into a pie dish, tart pan or springform pan.

Clean vegetables and sautee them in olive oil, butter or (best yet), saved bacon grease (that’s what’s in that tall ramekin).

Pour vegetables into the crust.

Top with cheese.  Any kind.  We like goat cheese.

Top with egg and cream mixture.

Bake at 375° for about 30 minutes or until the center is no longer jiggly.  Yes, I said jiggly.

Serve with salad.

– Catherine

Avocado Toast and Egg Creams

Dinner tonight was a big salad with tuna, hardboiled eggs, baby greens, yada, yada, yada.  The main-event was the avocado toast that Adam Rapoport describes making for dinner guests in the July issue of Bon Appétit.  The avocado toast, not the ribeye, was the star of the show.  Same here tonight, except our ribeye was a big salad.  Make the avocado toast, right away.  It’s delicious.

But I digress, dinner tonight was merely the means to an end.  For dessert, I made egg creams, featured in The Takeaway segment of the August Bon Appétit.  I added a scoop of vanilla ice-cream which probably makes it something completely different. But, with or without ice-cream,  the key component of the egg cream is the seltzer water that adds the fizz.  I liken it to adding jazz hands to a square dance routine; it’s so unexpected but makes you smile.

These were a really fun summertime treat that we’ll enjoy well into December.  Although we didn’t have the mandatory counter stools we did have a soda jerk.  (I’m not going to point fingers but you know who you are.)

-Andra

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