Arugula, Avocado and Mujadara Platter
An arugula, avocado and mujadara platter is a gorgeous way to serve mujadara, a beloved–yet humble-looking–lentil pilaf. Mujadara, along with arugula and avocado, is one of the healthiest, most delicious meals you can eat. Get the right lentils, bulgur, and other ingredients at MaureenAboodMarket.com.
Don’t ever apologize for your food.
I wish I could claim this edict as my own, but it comes from our beloved Julia Child. She believed that no matter what happened in the kitchen, no matter how battered a dish may seem when presented to guests, no apology should ever be made. Her thinking was so perfectly spot-on: you are cooking for someone. That is all they need to know to feel honored and delighted to be at your table. Plus, a food apology does nothing but make the eaters feel they need to reassure the cook.
Now, the reasons why I love to serve mujadara with bright greens, tomatoes, and avocadoes began with my sheepishness at putting a pot of mujadara on the table for anyone who had never eaten it before.
I’d start in with “I know mujadara may not look like much, but wait til you taste….” Or, “looks can be deceiving!” Or—Julia Child forbid: “Sorry for all of the blah brown, but….”
Since my favorite way to eat mujadara is with salad—any salad really, but especially malfouf (Lebanese slaw) or arugula—on top, I started to serve the mujadara with the salad bowl right next to it. If my mujadara pot was too heavy for me to carry both that and the salad bowl to the table at the same time, I’d enlist someone else to carry one or the other concurrently to the table. Like Silver Service at the Grand Hotel, a synchronicity, presented together for the sake of color.
Then it dawned on me that I could get the whole color coordination together on one big platter.
Salad served directly with the mujadara gilds our humble yet beloved pilaf so perfectly, and it’s not solely to do with how this looks, even though the mujadara/salad serving platter was inspired by looks. This is very much how many of us love to eat our ‘judra at all times, together with salad on the plate. Often with labneh, but sometimes just as it is, with all of the lemony goodness of the dressed salad.
I may not be able to serve every not-so-colorful dish in my repertoire on a salad (or can I? would be interesting to try!), but for certain I’m going to keep avoiding serving them, or any other dish, with an apology. A simple “bon appetit!” was good enough for Julia, and for me too.
Arugula, Avocado and Mujadara Platter
For the mujadara:
- 1/4 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed
- 4 cups diced yellow onion
- 1 cup small brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 1 cup coarse bulgur (#3) or long grain rice
For the salad:
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Few grinds black pepper
- 5-6 cups baby arugula
- 2 scallions thinly sliced
- 1 large or 2 smaller avocado, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- First, par-cook the lentils. Place the lentils in a small saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are par-cooked, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Be careful not to overcook here; the idea is to par-cook the lentils.
- In a large, heavy sauté or sauce pan (with a lid), heat the canola oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until deep golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning, though some charring will occur in order to get them all browned and that's just fine. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt as the onions cook.
- Take the onions off the heat and add 2 cups of water. Place back on the heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. The liquid will take on the deep golden color of the onions and the onions will continue to soften.
- Add the bulgur or rice and par-cooked lentils (and their liquid) to the onion mixture. Cover and bring to a boil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and lentils are cooked through. The texture of the rice and lentils is somewhat al dente. Take care not to overcook or the mixture will become mushy. Remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.
- For the salad, make the vinaigrette by whisking the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss the arugula and scallions with just over half of the vinaigrette. Dress the tomatoes and avocado separately with the vinaigrette.
- Arrange the arugula on a platter, and place the tomatoes and avocadoes around the perimeter. Spoon just over half of the cooled mujadara in the center of the platter and save the other half to eat later, or serve it alongside--just don't overwhelm the salad with so much mujadara that you can't see the salad!
- Drizzle olive oil over the mujadara (again; it will absorb and be delicious). Serve immediately.
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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!
amazingly, i recently thought the same thing.
i love majuddara but felt it wasn’t ‘sexy’ enough to bring to a pot luck so, sadly, i opted for something entirely different. not any more! the salad vegetables dress it up and make it shine.
Exactly! You’re going to love this as much as we do!
I have never used coarse wheat. Thank you for this recipe I will try it. God bless you
Oh good, enjoy–it’s a wonderful texture and flavor!
Looks delicous. We have a friend who is first generation Lebanese American. She is taking care of her mother who is 97. I think I will fix this and, after setting aside some for my wife and I, take the rest over to her. She really loved it when I made your Tabbouleh earlier this summer.
Gifts of love and friendship you are giving through your food!
My family loves mujadara. On a past visit to Lebanon to see my parents( they retired back there), we were invited over to multiple relative’s homes for dinner. They would always ask what we would like to have and my daughter about 16 years old at the time would ask for mujadara. They would always reply to the effect that, ” You want something better than that, don’t you?”, but my daughter always stuck to her original request. They accommodated her, but they always made some additional Lebanese staples. Those women were great cooks! i also love how you dressed it up with the salad. Looks fabulous.
I lover your daughter’s taste and I bet the mujadara in Lebanon was wonderful. I’m curious if you ever had it pureed there. Sounds like a very special experience!
This looks light, healthy, and delicious. I can’t wait to try. Thanks for sharing!
Hi! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
I grew up with mujadara and I always enjoyed it with salad. A few years ago I experimented with some leftovers by adding diced fresh tomatoes and scallions. I then dressed it as I would for tabbouleh with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and made a great salad for lunch.
Oh Anita that sounds fabulous, mixing the mujadara together with the salad, as a salad. Thank you!
Hi Maureen, The more I read your recipes, the more I realize my Irish mother’s Lebanese cooking for my father was spot on. I loved this food growing up, but Mom has been gone for 10 years now and her recipies were written without the details of measurement,. Needless to say I am thrilled to be able to recreate the goodness of those recipes with the much needed detail provided in yours. Thank you so much!
Carol, wonderful, thank you!
What a great way to serve mujadara; this presentation really takes it to another level – which is a good thing. I had my mother teach me how to make this because it is one of my favorite’s. Even with all the Lebanese recipes on line, your website has become my “go to”. You really nail the flavors to recreate all of the foods that I grew up eating. Alf shukran!
Oh Scott, thanks so very much!
Hey Maureen. Thanks for another great recipe. I grew up on this dish (especially during Lent), but never liked it. Your recipe made it taste much better. Carmelizing the onions made a world of difference. Thanks for doing what you do. Anthony
Anthony, that’s great great news! Thank you!
My cousin, Sandy Oade, taught me to make Mujadara. Her recipe had 9 dashes of allspice. It’s delicious! Sandy passed away 5 years ago. I miss her and the Lebanese cooking lessons. Having your cookbook helps and reminds me of her. Thank you!
Well Rhonda, if I didn’t know Sandy well! I used to go to her Bell’s pizza on M.A.C. many times a week as I walked to my classes when I was in graduate school at MSU. She always fussed over me and my. friends, and was so special. How wonderful that you learned mujadara from her. I love the allspice addition, I’m sure very delicious!
You need to serve it with plain full fat yogurt and wow. Great recipe thanks. Oh and add some cinnamon which can really rev it up nicely.