mujadra tacos w/ leeks, spring herbs + pea tendrils


the spring season is here, the sun is shining brighter and longer, my house plants are dancing to the sun's revived rhythm, and there are small pieces of what look like daffodils pushing through the earth.  it all sounds nice, but the temperature hasn't risen above 30-something and this chick is getting impatient!  all i want to do is sit outside with warm sunshine hitting my face, make green salads filled with every vegetable imaginable, i would love to make a rhubarb something, but the fact remains, even though the season is spring, spring hasn't truly sprung yet - at least not here!  

in an effort to celebrate spring, but to also be mindful that it still totally feels like winter, today i bring you one of my favorite dishes on the face of the earth, MUJADRA!  it's a humble and cozy rice + lentil dish full of caramelized onions and warm flavorful spices.  while most days i usually buy huge containers of it from sahadi's (the most bomb middle eastern grocery/deli in all the land) i've been trying to hone my mujadra-making skills.  traditionally, mujadra (also known as mujaddara) is made by cooking the lentils and rice together, but here i use brown basmati rice, which has a longer cook time than white rice, and therefore has to be cooked separately (we don't want no mushy lentils!).  i also chose to use leeks in place of sweet onions mostly because i bought 3 leeks the size of baseball bats and needed to use them in something, but also because they're a perfect segue to spring!   also in the spirit of our new season, i left behind some of winter's warming spices like turmeric, cinnamon and allspice and replaced them with bright, bitter parsley and pea tendrils.  and what dish is complete without an edible vessel?  the truth is, food is more fun when you wrap a tortilla around it!  i was thinking sandwich, wrap, naan...but in the end i wanted less bread and more mujadra, hence the tortilla.  i'm no stranger to putting odd things in tortillas and calling them tacos, so i hope i'm not offending anyone!  i can't wait to get into the swing of spring things, should be a good one! xo



mujadra tacos w/ leeks, spring herbs + pea tendrils (gluten free)

| serves 4-6 (makes about 12 tacos) |

the mujadra recipe provided makes roughly 3 cups.  if you're planning on making this for a smaller crowd, i suggest either halving the recipe or freezing half for another time (i actually love making a big pot of this just so i can have leftovers to thaw whenever i want).  also, the yogurt in the tahini sauce can be substituted with plain soy or coconut yogurt, just be mindful these yogurts do not have as much punchiness as greek yogurt so you may want to add more lemon juice.  lastly, this can TOTALLY be eaten without the tortilla, just dollop on the yogurt sauce and chow-down!

ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils (i used de puy)
  • 3/4 cup brown basmati rice
  • 3 large leeks, sliced lengthwise and into thin half moons (roughly 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt + freshly ground pepper
  • pea tendrils, to garnish (you could also use micro greens or sprouts)
  • small tortillas

yogurt + tahini sauce (slightly adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook)

  • 4 1/2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced fine
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
  • a big pinch of salt


instructions

make the tahini + yogurt sauce

  • in a medium-sized bowl, combine the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons of water - whisk to combine.  if you like, add more water for a thinner constancy.  place in a lidded jar and refrigerate until needed

make the lentils and rice

  • pick over and remove any cracked or shriveled lentils; rinse under water. place lentils in a medium-sized saucepan with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil.  once boiling, turn heat down and bring to a simmer.  cook, uncovered for 20-30 minutes.  add water as needed to make sure lentils are just covered.  once cooked, remove from heat and set aside
  • wipe out pot, place over medium heat and combine the rice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cumin, cayenne 1/4 teaspoon salt and some big cracks of pepper, stir to combine.  toast the rice and spices for a couple minutes stirring frequently.  add 1 1/2 cups of water; turn heat up and bring to a boil.  cover, turn heat to low and allow the rice to cook 40-50 minutes, until water is absorbed.  remove from heat and remove lid; place a tea towel over the pot and then place the lid back on.  set rice aside
  • while the rice is cooking, make the caramelized leeks.  heat a 10-inch skillet on medium, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  when hot, place leeks in.  stir every few minutes or so for even cooking, the leeks with take on a caramel color and be quite fragrant when finished - about 20-25 minutes.  set aside

assemble tacos

  • in a large bowl, combine the lentils, rice, leeks and parsley.  taste and adjust seasoning if needed
  • place warm tacos on a clean work surface, add the mujadra to each tortilla, top with pea tendrils and yogurt-tahini sauce

serve warm and enjoy!