Beluga lentils, caramelized onions, and jasmine rice form the base for this colorful vegetarian dish.
What can I say about mujaddara...
If Mujaddara were a person, and I took him as my +1 to a party, he would not necessarily be the most attractive person there, or the tallest, or the most athletic, but he would be the snappiest dresser and get along with everyone and he would be an amazing dancer and he would tell the funniest jokes and everyone would be like, "oh, Mujaddara, you're so funny," and Mujaddara would be all "I know, right?" but not in a narcissistic way, because that's just not the kind of person Mujaddara is.
And, if this was your party, Mujaddara would also stay late to help you wash the dishes, and maybe drive the random dude that passed out on your carpet back to wherever he came from (which is likely across town because it is a law of the universe that a random dude will always pass out an inconveniently far distance from his house) and give him a box of saltines and a ginger ale from the stash that Mujaddara keeps in his car for just such occasions, because Mujaddara doesn't care who you are, he just wants you to feel great.
Mujaddara is pretty much the perfect addition to any party, and you would be happy to have met him. He would have helped you to have a great time, and you would invite him back in the future. And I would probably be in your good graces for bringing Mujaddara along in the first place.
Serves 4-6 as a vegetarian main course, or 8-12 as a side dish
I like bringing things like Mujaddara to potlucks and collaborative dinner parties, because you just never know what's going to be at a potluck. I have been to a dinner potluck where every person (including me!) brought cheese and crackers. Let's not do that again! This dish will quickly serve as either a hearty side or vegetarian main dish, seamlessly filling any gap in your dinner party. Not to mention that it tastes fantastic at room temperature, making it the perfect dish for picnics or events where the official meal time is unclear. It's just the best!
Cooking notes: you can make this with any kind of rice or leftover rice, but jasmine has a really nice flavor for this dish. Cooking the jasmine rice with a glug of olive oil will help the grains remain separate, which means they can be more easily mixed with the lentils and onions.
2 cups cooked beluga lentils (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 cups cooked jasmine rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
2 medium yellow onions, caramelized (instructions below)
1 cup cooked greens (I sautéed some finely sliced kale leaves in olive oil and garlic), optional
salt, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
1 pint mixed cherry, grape, and/or pear tomatoes, roasted (instructions below), and divided
1/3 cup chopped pistachios, divided
2 ounces soft goat cheese (I used chevre)
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
Piment d'espelette or hot paprika, to taste (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, caramelized onions, and greens. Add salt and lemon juice to taste, and mix gently using your hands (so you don't break the rice grains). This lentil/rice/onion combo is what is known as Mujaddara.
Add half of the roasted cherry tomatoes and half of the pistachios to the bowl, again mixing gently with your hands to combine. Transfer to a serving dish. At this point, you can cover and refrigerate the dish for up to 3 days. (The pistachios will soften a bit during this time, but the dish will still be very tasty.)
Just before serving, scatter the remaining roasted tomatoes and pistachios over the Mujaddara, then crumble the goat cheese over the tomatoes and pistachios. Finely chiffonade the basil leaves, and scatter them over the Mujaddara. Finish with a sprinkle of piment d'espelette or hot paprika for color and heat.
For basic caramelized onions: peel and halve the onions, and thinly slice from top to tail. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium low heat, and add the onions, tossing to evenly coat them in the fat. Cook over medium low heat until their texture is meltingly soft, about 15-20 minutes. Once soft, sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt and crank up the heat to medium-high. Keep an eye on the onions and stir frequently, allowing them to brown and color. Once the onions are a deep amber in color, deglaze the pan with a little water (or white wine) to scrape up any tasty caramelized bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the water cook most of the way off (the onions may still look slightly wet), and transfer to a bowl to cool. The onions may be made up to a day in advance of making the Mujaddara.
For the roasted tomatoes: preheat the oven to 400˚F. Halve the tomatoes, and place in a single layer on a silpat or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and gently toss with your hands to evenly coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes are slightly wrinkled and reduced in size. Remove from the oven, and set aside to cool. The tomatoes are best roasted on the day that you plan to make the Mujaddara.
Other serving ideas: - top with chicken or steak kabobs for a heartier dinner - top with a fried egg, avocado, and hot sauce for breakfast or brunch (I do this with Mujaddara leftovers) - add roasted or grilled squash or replace the cooked greens with arugula (added just before serving).
(On an unrelated note, can we all agree that my friend Vanessa has the most amazing wine stopper you have ever seen?)
The official first day of summer happened last weekend! It is now excusable for the sun to melt you into the sidewalk. As is tradition around this time of year, our air conditioner broke. We sort of weren't using it that much anyway to try and keep our energy bill on the lower end of ridiculous (old houses = lots of character, lots of character = no insulation, no insulation = lots of energy needed to keep the indoors from becoming devil's armpit hot), but as it turns out, not using air conditioning means that our house turns into a high-desert microclimate with temps averaging about 86˚F.
So now we are looking for every excuse to cook and eat our food outside, which led to the creation of these [likely inauthentic, but still super tasty] chicken tacos. Granted you can (and I did) cook the chicken breasts in a skillet, but they'd be just as good and probably more authentic if they were cooked outdoors on a grill. You can easily double/quadruple/quintuple this recipe to feed as many hungry people as you'd like, and as the only thing that really needs cooking is the chicken, you can prep all the accoutrements right before you grill and have quite possibly the easiest and least fussy dinner party ever.
So, yeah. These are really good tacos, made by a white lady in a cast-iron skillet in Utah. I doubt it gets much more gringo than that.
Tacos de Pollo Gringo (Gringo Chicken Tacos)
makes enough for 2-3 people, or 8-10 small (street) tacos
For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon chili powder (I used this awesome stuff from Rancho Gordo)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
Place the chicken in a container with a lid or a shallow bowl. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the chicken. Use your hands to spread the marinade over the chicken so that each breast is evenly coated. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
To build/accessorize your tacos:
1 ripe (but not mushy) avocado, sliced
1/2 a white onion, finely chopped
a handful of fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges
small corn tortillas, about 4-5 inches in diameter (if you're in Utah, Rico makes nice, pliable corn tortillas in Salt Lake City, and sells them in most grocery stores)
About 30-45 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: Take the chicken out of the fridge and set aside (leaving it at room temperature for a bit helps it to cook more evenly and stay tender). If using a grill, now is a good time to begin heating your coals.
About 15 minutes before you want to eat your tacos: prep the avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime (we combined the onion and cilantro in the same bowl like a dry relish, but you can serve them separately depending on what you prefer). Set aside.
Place a grill over hot coals, or place a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Oil the grill with an olive oil-soaked paper towel, or drizzle a little oil around the inside of your cast iron skillet (just enough to lightly coat). Cook the chicken just until it is cooked through (no longer pink inside), but still tender, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
While the chicken is cooking, remove your tortillas from their bag/container and place them in a microwave-proof bowl. Put a plate on top of the bowl (covering the tortillas) to make a makeshift steamer. Microwave your bowl/plate contraption for 1-2 minutes to heat your tortillas and make them pliable (you may have to experiment with your tortillas to make sure you are heating them enough/not too much, since various brands can act differently when heated).
Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Let rest for a minute. Slice each breast across the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a serving bowl. Pour any juices that end up on your cutting board over the chicken. Serve immediately with the hot tortillas, onion, cilantro, avocado, and lime.