Lentils with Caramelized Onions

It has been a very eventful day for the kitties.

Both Evil Monkey

and Stinkee

(yes, those are their real names) had their annual appointment.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been in their individual cat carriers since Roo brought them home from the shelter a year ago.  They also haven’t ventured outside our apartment, like our over-stimulating porch, since Monkey threatened to launch herself off the ledge while chasing a house sparrow.

Roo was left alone to get them into their carriers and bring them to the vet, as I had to work.  And according to Roo, it was a bit of production.  The short of it being that they wanted nothing to do with leaving the apartment.  And there were escapes.  And tantrums.  And mewing.  Lots of mewing.

Luckily that morning was not an indicator of how the actual appointment was, as the kitties were very well behaved.  They sat still for their physical exams and shots, only to mew the whole way there, and the whole way back.  Roo felt quite bad for them, especially when the vet suggested that if it was for only once a year, the cats would be fine in their individual carriers, but more than that, then perhaps they would be happier in something more spacious.  Irish Catholic Guilt is the only level of remorse I can describe for how Roo felt.

Now, don’t feel too bad for them, as the kitties have slept it off and are up to their usual shenanigans of finding new places to explore,

finding new places to call a bed,

no no, this bed is much better,

and claiming things that don’t belong to them.

Needless to say with that last photo, I think they’ve forgiven Roo.

As for me I came home pretty uninspired as to what to cook for dinner.  After asking on Facebook what I should make, my friend JS suggested mujadara.  Mujadara, is a wonderfully creamy dish featuring lentils, rice and spices that I love such as cinnamon and cumin.  Unfortunately mujadara seemed a little heavy for me, but I couldn’t get the idea of lentils out of my head.  I love how a tiny legume has such a complex flavor profile.  They’re peppery, soft and creamy, all in one bite.  And, they’re filling, healthy and cheap!  What girl doesn’t love affordable ingredients?

In the end I decided to do an take on Mujadara, with my three favorite components of the dish: lentils, caramelized onions, and cumin.  It’s still peppery from the lentils, creamy, and a bit sweet from the caramelized onion, and has a lovely, earthy heat from the cumin.  I am seriously addicted to cumin.  And red pepper flake.  I think I need spice rehab.

Now I’m going to warn you.  Unlike the pictures of the kitties, this dish is not cute.  In fact, I’d say it’s uglier than “ugly salsa.”  It may be the ugliest dish I’ve ever made.  But try to remember back when your (insert parent) read to you at bedtime and it ended with the important moral of the story.  No, I’m not talking about don’t talk to strangers.  How else are you going to get free candy?

Lentils with Caramelized Onions

Serves Four As a Side


One cup of lentils

Three to four large onions, thinly sliced (this may seem like a lot of onion, but it’ll cook down, and it’s so so good)

One teaspoon of cumin (if it’s your first time using cumin, start with half)

Three to Four tablespoons of olive oil (at least enough to coat the pan for the onions)

Salt to taste


A large saute pan

A pot (can hold about four cups of water) with a lid (or something that you can partially cover it with)

A fine colander

A sharp knife

A spatula

In a small pot (this just prevents you from using another dish), rinse the lentils with cold water, picking out any debris (I’ve found discolored lentils and once, a pebble).  You can rinse the lentils with cold water, then dump them into a fine colander to drain out the dirty water and pick out the debris.  When you’re done rinsing, put them back in the small pot, and fill with water, about two to three inches above the lentils.    Place the pot over a burner, on medium high heat.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat so that your water is at a simmer.  Partially cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until your lentils are soft to taste.  If your water evaporates to expose the lentils to the air (mine usually does), just pour more water into the pot, covering the lentils again, about two to three inches.  As for the end point of your lentils, you want them to be soft, but not be mushy.  Once they’re soft, remove them from the heat (you don’t want them to overcook and lose their shape).  Immediately drain the water from pot, or just dump the lentils back in the fine colander again, and then put the now drained lentils back into the dry pot.

While the lentils are cooking, add the olive oil to the saute pan and place over medium low heat.  When the oil starts to shimmer, add the cumin.  Cook until fragrant, about thirty seconds.  Add the onions.  Add a good pinch of salt.  Cook until caramelized.  You want them to be soft, sweet, golden brown and practically melting in your mouth.  This should take between ten and twenty minutes, depending on how crowded your pan is with the onions, and how strong your burner is.  Keep an eye on it, stirring it occasionally with a spatula.

When the onions are caramelized, remove from heat.  They can totally hang out on a cool burner until the lentils are ready.

When the lentils are ready, add the lentils to the pan.  With a spatula, fold the ingredients over one another till combined.  Add salt to taste.  Eat immediately.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s