This dish makes a wholly satisfying weeknight meal with tons of flavor and texture. Don’t skimp on the yogurt sauce when making this meal. The buttery, nutty lentil salad is intoxicating on its own, but the yogurt adds a nice little spicy counterpoint to the rich butteryness and should not be missed.
Israeli Lentil, Leek and Onion Salad with Spice Spiked Yogurt
Adapted from Mujaddara with Spiced Yogurt from Food 52
3/4 c. green lentils
1 c. long grain white rice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 leek, washed, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 c. plain fat free Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. spicy Hungarian paprika
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
Juice and zest of half a lemon
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
While the oven is going, start your lentils. Combine lentils, big pinch salt and 4 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Once your pot is up to the boil, kick the heat back and simmer the lentils until they are cooked but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl.
While your lentils are going, combine the rice, another big pinch of salt and 1 1/2 cups water in an oven-safe pot on medium heat. Bring up to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, cover and transfer the whole pot to the oven. Cook for 17 minutes until the rice is cooked. Remove from the oven, uncover and fluff with a fork. I didn’t think this cooking method would work either, but the geniuses at Food 52 were right and it went off without a hitch. Add the rice to the lentil bowl.
While all this is cooking, set your largest sautee pan over medium low heat. Add the butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. When that has melted down, add the leeks and onions and toss to coat. Cook gently for 5 minutes or until the mixture has softened slightly and begun to release its liquid. Kick the heat up to medium and cook, stirring occasionally and adding dashes of water if things start to stick, until the onions and leeks are well browned. This will take you 12-20 minutes, depending upon your pan and the day. You’re not looking for burnt here, just a nice deep brown nuttiness. Once the mixture is looking good, add the last Tbsp. olive oil and crank the heat to high. Cook 3-4 minutes until the bottom layer gets a little char. Still not burnt, but crispy.
Add to the lentil & rice bowl and let sit 15 minutes to allow the flavors a chance to get to know each other.
While the ingredients are mingling, combine all yogurt ingredients together and stir.
To serve, scoop servings of lentils into a bowl and top with a dollop of yogurt.
This recipe makes enough for 2 for dinner and lunch the next day (and its perhaps even better the next day, too).