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mujadara: rice with lentils and crispy onions

Hello, from living in social isolation here in Toronto. I’ve been baking and cooking loads with all the extra time at home. This mujadara, also known as rice with lentils and crispy onions is homey comfort food at is best. The recipe was taught to me years ago by a Palestinian friend. It’s a recipe I have adjusted over the years and this version I am sharing is the simplest and easiest and still gets the comforting flavours and those dreamy, crispy sweet onions.

I use canned green lentils (drained and rinsed) and I also often make the rice the day before. I often make this on the weekend for my family or for guests to serve with roasted chicken or fish. It can also be a dish on its own. Just top with any cooked veg and a dollop of hummus or plain yogurt. Hope you enjoy the recipe and stay well. xo

Mujadara

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 yellow cooking onions
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 x 540 ml can green lentils (rinsed and drained)
  • one cup dry basmati rice

Cook rice to package instructions. When done remove lid and leave to cool. While your rice is cooking slice the onions into half moons. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add your onions to the frying pan and toss in the teaspoon of salt.

Saute onions over medium heat until they start to brown and get sweet and caramelized. This takes about 30 minutes. Don’t rush them. The onions really are the best part of this dish! I will often load the dishwater or do some other food prep (chopped veg for lunches etc) in the kitchen and stop to stir the onions every few minutes.

Once the onions are brown and starting to get crispy, add the butter and cumin and stir well until butter becomes fragrant – just a moment or two. Add the rice and lentils and stir well. Check to see if needs more salt and pepper. Top with chopped flat leaf parsley or cilantro before serving if you’re feeling fancy.

Mujadara keeps well in the fridge for close to a week, or freezes very well. I also think it tastes better the next day. Enjoy friends.

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Hello January. Days are starting to feel a tiny bit lighter but the most of snowy winter is still ahead of us.

I feel like the best way to “get through” winter is to embrace the best of it. My mantra for the winter weekends is hibernate, moisturize and play in the snow. Lots of slowing down, making soup and curries, reading, watching movies, and arts and crafts. I am also a little obsessed with my nighttime winter skincare rituals. They signal for me it’s bedtime and my time at the end of the day. I recently went for a facial at Pure + Simple and love this vitamin C serum I picked up there. Super moisturizing and the smell is divine.

Soups and curries like this one line my freezer. I make them on the weekend when I have more time and then whip them out for super quick weeknight supper. This chickpea coconut curry is my current favourite and my kids eat it over rice.

Use a can of organic chickpeas if you can. The taste and buttery texture is much better than non-organic. Truth: most canned goods I buy are traditional, but I splurge for organic chickpeas for this recipe.

Serve over basmati rice or quinoa. Top with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro or green onions if you’re feeling fancy. Hope you love it!

chickpea curry with coconut milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cooking onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 x 796 ml can whole tomatoes
  • 1 x 400 ml can coconut milk
  • 1 x 796 ml can organic chickpeas drained and rinsed
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

Heat a soup pot or large deep frying pan with oil. Add the diced onion, salt generously and saute over medium heat five minutes.

Add the butter, ginger and garlic, then the turmeric, cumin and curry and stir creating a paste.

Cook the paste until fragrant, just a minute or so. Pour in the coconut milk and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes a bit with a wooden spoon. Turn heat to a simmer and stir for five minutes as sauce thickens, then add the chickpeas and brown sugar. Reduce heat to low/medium and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Stir in the handfuls of baby spinach. And taste for salt and pepper, adding as needed.

Oh, this freezes so well too. Stay warm, friends.

flank steak with roasted potatoes and onions

I was in New York recently and ate a dish that inspired this one at Epistrophy. I knew I had to recreate it at home. It was my last meal in NY after three days of hanging with my best friend Laura, celebrating her birthday on a Brooklyn rooftop, shopping, working out and eating.

I like flank steak, hanger or striploin and like it cooked medium/medium rare and love how the potatoes soak up the juices. The addition of the caramelized onion and fresh thyme really make the dish.

I used steak from a meat delivery service called truLOCAL. Their meat is local, responsibly sourced and best of all it’s delivered to your door! My order was packed in dry ice and frozen even on a summer day by the time I unpacked it. Use the promo code RACHELBARBARO10 to save $10-$20 on your first order. (Full disclosure I received an influencer box of complimentary meat and it was all delicious. They sponsored this post.)

Okay back to the recipe. It serves two generously.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1-2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 approximately 13 ounce steak (I like flank/hanger steak or striploin)
  • 2-3 cooking onions
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh thyme

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash potatoes. Chop into 1-2 inch cubes. No need to peel them. Spread potatoes over parchment lined baking sheets. I used one large baking sheet but feel free to use two sheets. You want the potatoes to crisp up and they won’t if crowded. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and generously salt and pepper. It feels like a lot of oil but trust me. Roast in oven 30 minutes until golden brown and be sure to flip once during cooking so all sides get crispy and brown.

Remove the potatoes from the baking sheets onto two plates lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. I like to add a little sprinkle of salt here too while they are super hot. I taste one first to check if they need it.

Prep the onions by slicing them in half and then into half moons. Heat the 3 TBSP oil and butter in a non stick frying pan and add the onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook on low to medium heat until the onions start to caramelize and get fragrant. A little tip here I love caramelized onions and have burnt them more times that I care to admit. Low and slow is the best way to get them sweet and delicious.

There are two ways to cook the steak. You can grill it on the BBQ (medium to high heat) about six minutes a side. Or I often cook the steak in my cast iron pan, also medium to high heat about six minutes a side. If you want medium to well done cook for ten minutes a side. The prep for the steak is the same for BBQ or cast iron.

Make sure the steak is room temperature. Drizzle lightly with olive oil on each side and generously salt and pepper each side. Make sure cast iron or BBQ grills are hot. You want to hear that sizzle. After cooking the steak to desired doneness place on a cutting board and let rest for at least five minutes, then slice against the grain.

To plate on a platter place potatoes then top with steak slices, onions and a scattering of fresh thyme and dig in!

honey dijon dill salmon

I woke up today to sunshine and birds chirping. After the longest winter ever, spring’s finally here!

This salmon is fresh, light and so yummy. It’s a weeknight favourite in my house. (I try to serve fish to the kids at least once a week.) You can make the rice the day before so when the salmon bakes just saute the veggies and dinner is done in 15 minutes.

The warmer weather has me decluttering (putting away the winter coats in Toronto is the best feeling) and peeling back layers. A season change feels like a good time to think about habits and emotional reactions. And get a little curious about what is maybe not serving me anymore or what could I let go of or shift. I’ve been reading lots of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle and Gabrielle Bernstein. These books sit on my bedside table and I pick them up and read a few pages when I feel the call. I always feel a bit more peaceful and balanced afterwards. Meditation helps me with this too.

Back in my university days (100% not peaceful and balanced days!) I worked in a French Swiss restaurant bartending and serving. This salmon reminds me of the spring menu the chef would write. Dill and fish are the freshest flavours together. Hope you enjoy it! Recipe serves four.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 4 salmon fillets

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Wisk the mustard, honey and dill together in a small bowl using a fork. If it is very thick add a touch of olive oil. My honey is runny so I usually don’t have to do this.

Place salmon skin side down on the parchment lined sheet and pour 1/4 of the honey mustard mixture over each piece. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just cooked. (Be wary of over cooking – dry salmon is the worst.) My oven takes just 11 minutes. Remember the salmon will keep cooking when it comes out of the oven and sits on the sheet.

Need a side? Serve with brown or basmati rice, mushrooms sauteed in butter or baby spinach quickly wilted in a pan with olive oil and salt and pepper. This kale salad or this arugula salad would also be perfect beside the salmon. Happy spring, friends! xo

Cauliflower tacos

These Mexican spiced cauliflower tacos are SO delicious. I love them for a weeknight meatless meal. Spring is just about to arrive here in Toronto and I’m craving a little more yoga, sunshine and vegetables.

I roast the cauliflower and stuff it into soft corn tacos and top with avocado, feta cheese, fresh salsa, lime and cilantro. But the cauliflower is amazing on its own too as a side dish, or on a grain bowl. Hope you love it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix the oil and spices with the salt and pepper in a small dish. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash and chop the cauliflower. I remove the core and then break apart the florets.

Throw the cauliflower pieces on the baking sheet and drizzle with the spice and oil mixture. Roast for 25 minutes. Flip the cauliflower pieces over and stir it around halfway through the cooking time to get all the pieces equally crispy.

Topping ideas:

  • lime
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • pico do gallo (fresh salsa)
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • avocado
  • lettuce or shredded cabbage
  • spicy mayo (mix ratio of 1/2 mayo to 1/2 siracha)

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