Two Mediterranean Inspired Recipes

These two recipes are both easy to make and really delicious (but don't I say that all the time). And, other than boiling the pasta for the stew and caramelizing onions for the rice, these are both made in a single pot (easy cleanup). The stew (ragu) that is pictured below (second recipe) was made exactly as the recipe is listed and pictured. The lentils-and-rice (mouhardara) had a few changes. Mainly, I added a pinch of cumin, cinnamon, and allspice to the rice as it cooked, and I topped it with caramelized onion and chopped parsley. I hope you try one or both recipes,you won't be sorry...

Moudardara or Mujaddara
(Lebanese Lentil and Rice)
Makes 8-10 servings
½ pound lentils
¼ cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
¼ pound vermicelli, broken into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups long-grain rice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups hot chicken broth or water

Boil the lentils in plenty of lightly salted water until just cooked. Then drain them and set aside. Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat and add the onions. Cook the onions—while stirring—for about 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown. Add the vermicelli to the onions and continue to cook until the pasta begins to change color as well. Add the garlic and cook it for a minute or so, then stir in the rice, salt, and broth. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower it to a simmer. Stir the rice once, then cover the pot. Simmer the rice for about 15 minutes then add the cooked and drained lentils to the post without stirring. Re-cover the pot and cook the rice for an additional 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Just before serving, gently stir in the lentils and fluff the rice. This dish is delicious hot, at room temperature, or chilled.

Lamb, Bean, and Macaroni Ragù
Serves 4-6

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound diced lamb
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed hot pepper
1 ½ cups diced tomato
1 ½ cups cooked and drained white beans
2 cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups elbow macaroni (uncooked)
Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb and cook it for a few minutes. When the lamb just begins to brown add the onion, and then the garlic. Cook for another minute or two. Stir in the basil, fennel, salt, and hot pepper. Stir the herbs and spices, then add the tomato, beans and broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cook the ragù for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently. If it becomes too thick add additional broth a a small amount of water. While the ragù is simmering boil the pasta. Cook it al dent, strain it, and add it to the stew. Allow it to simmer and slowly finish cooking for just a couple minutes. Just before serving stir in Parmesan cheese.

Urban Simplicity.