VICTORIA SHORE’S MUJADDARA
“Fun fact -- did you know that the name January comes from the two-faced Roman God Janus, who could look both forwards and backwards?”
Around the holidays it’s easy to go all in with the baked goods, hearty casseroles and family classics. While there isn’t anything shameful in that, Chef Victoria wanted to bridge the spirit of new beginnings and family favorites to your table this holiday season. In January we typically shelve our comforting stews and sugarplum sweets in favor of detoxing and cleansing. But can classics be satisfying while also guilt-free?
In the spirit of Janus, Victoria has decided to share her recipe for mujaddara (moo-ja-du-rah). Mujaddara is a classic Lebanese lentil and bulgur stew nuanced with caramelized onions. It is both hearty and filling, but also doesn’t bust the waistline. The dish showcases how beautiful simple can be. Lentils are also a traditional New Year’s food - symbolizing wealth in the year to come - so this dish will fit right in next to the collard greens throughout your holiday celebration.
There are one million and one ways to prepare mujadarra, but this is the rather peculiar version that Victoria’s family makes using bulgur wheat instead of rice, and is more stew-like than pilaf-like.
2 large yellow onions
½ cup olive oil
2 cups brown lentils
3 cups vegetable broth (or water will work just fine)
1 cup bulgur wheat, preferably coarse/#2 grind
1 TBSP salt
To serve: greek yogurt
For a gluten free version substitute rice for the bulgur wheat, add an additional cup of vegetable stock and add the rice when you add the lentils.
Remove the top, bottom, and skin of the onions. Cut them in half vertically, and then cut them into thin (⅛”) slices. When cooking onions, always be sure to slice them with the grain (from top to bottom) rather than into half-moons (like a Ruby Tuesday’s salad bar).
Heat half of the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the sliced onions and turn the heat down to medium-low. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are meltingly soft and a rich golden brown, about 20 minutes. The further along the onions are, the more likely they are to burn as they release their sugars, so stir more frequently later in the cooking process. If you feel like the pan is too dry, add more olive oil as needed. And if you do get a little scorch spot, not to panic, just add a few tablespoons of water and stir with a wooden spoon to “deglaze” the dark spot from the bottom of the pan.
Remove half of the onions from the pot and set aside to top your stew. Add your lentils, vegetable broth and salt. Stir together and bring the stock up to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. During the last 5 minutes of cooking stir in the bulgur wheat. If you’re unsure, taste the lentils, if they are al dente, then it’s time to add the bulgur. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Portion into bowls and top with reserved caramelized onions. Serve with plain greek yogurt and greens wilted with a little lemon juice and vegetable broth.
make it your own with an on-point garnish game. Mediterranean meals are often served with a variety of pickles and small side salads. A bite of salt and acid really highlights this rich stew.