We ended the year in the warm, buttery blessing of baklawa. And we have no regrets. But we’ll start the New Year in the healthy, earthy, yet delectable land of lentils, which are eaten with frequency in many ethnic cuisines, particularly that of the Lebanese.
The lentil is a pretty little pulse that grows in a pod and is purchased as a dried legume. The varieties are many, and the colors too. I wish that the Lebanese dish of mujadara (moo-JHU-duh-duh) that we are cooking this week could be made from the bright pink lentils I have in my lentil basket (I eat them so often that I do keep…a lentil basket). So photogenic. But the pink, yellow and red lentils don’t do well with mujadara, which calls for large, firm, shape-holding brown or green lentils.
Lentils are available whole or split; you’ll need large, whole lentils for mujadara. Whether you buy your lentils in bulk or already packaged, the price tag if not the health benefits will likely lead you to an exploration of all kinds of dishes that can be made with them.
We eat lentils often, and we’re proud of it. Lentil dishes are what my mind immediately turns to when I consider how healthy Lebanese food is. That’s because lentils are a perfect vegan protein when accompanied by rice or cracked wheat, as they are in mujadara. Even those of us who eat more than our share of red, even raw, meat can appreciate the good a vegan dish does for the body.
The ingredient list for mujadara is short: Lentils, onions, rice. You’ve probably already got your ingredients on hand, which is yet another accolade for our humble, beloved mujadara. I’m a believer that it’s going to be a beloved you’re proud of soon too.