Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot enjoy your traditional, cultural foods and still be healthy/fit. Health nowadays is SO white-washed and were tricked into thinking that we need to eat plain, grilled chicken breast, white rice, and unseasoned broccoli to achieve optimal health and wellness. We are free to eat the foods we grew up with, we just have to learn how to wisely balance them out in our daily diet. For example, here we have Mdardara.
This is an authentic Middle Eastern dish made of lentils and rice with caramelized onion. The smell of this dish will make you want to eat the entire pot you just made because it's that good. I want to note that this dish is extremely similar to "Mujadara", which is lentils and bulgur with caramelized onion. I love both, however if I'm feeling like a gluten-free meal that night because my stomach is upset with me, I'll opt for the Mdardara. So, my GF friends this dish is GREAT for you.
Anyways back to the dish - between the ages of 18-22 I refused to eat this dish as much because I thought it was just filled with carbs and was unhealthy for me. When in reality, this dish is an incredible source of vegan protein and carbs that can be used as a perfect side dish with veggies. It's all about learning how to look at foods differently and knowing how to balance it out. So, what I did with this recipe below was pair the Mdardara with a whole load of veggies turning it into my "Mdardara Salad Bowl".
Don't be overwhelmed by the dish - if you know how to cook rice, then this is just two extra steps! The rest is just baking veggies and adding them to the salad. So without further a do, let's get to this recipe!
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
This recipe is dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan.
1. 1 handful of spinach
2. 1 handful of arugula
3. 4-5 Greek olives or any of choice
4. 8-10 cherry/grape tomatoes
5. 8 pieces of cauliflower florets
6. 1 cucumber
7. Extra virgin olive oil
8. 1 lemon
9. Salt, black pepper, garlic powder
1. ¾ cup of green lentils (washed thoroughly)
2. ½ cup of basmati rice (washed thoroughly)
3. 3-4 cups of cold water
4. ½ white onion
5. 3 TBSPs or more of extra virgin olive oil
6. Salt to taste
1. First, preheat your oven to 400 so you can bake the cauliflower and cherry tomatoes as you work on the Mdardara.
2. On a baking sheet, add on the cauliflower and cherry tomatoes. Drizzle on olive oil and season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to your liking. Mix well and bake until cooked well. You MAY need to take the tomatoes out before because they bake faster so keep an eye out.
3. As they bake, grab a pot and add in 3-4 cups of cold water and the ¾ cup of green lentils.
4. Cover and bring the pot to a boil over high heat. After it starts to boil, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes. You don't want the lentils to overcook/too soft.
5. While you're waiting for the lentils to finish cooking, grab a small frying pan and drizzle in 3-4 TBSPs of olive oil. Turn the heat to high and once you can smell the olive oil, add in your white onions that you chopped into half moons. Let them sauté on high until they become brown and crispy. Remove the onions and place them on a paper towel & plate to remove the excess oil.
6. Now, the lentils should be half cooked like I said in step 4, add the rice to the lentils. Cover and simmer for up to 15-20 minutes again. You want all of the water to evaporate and cook the rice and lentils. Add salt to taste before you cover the pot.
7. Let's put this whole bowl together now: in a serving bowl add in the arugula on one half and the spinach on the other half of the bowl. Add your finely chopped cucumber, your baked cherry tomatoes, your baked cauliflower, your Greek olives, your caramelized onions, and ¾ cup or so of the Mdardara you just made. (let the Mdardara sit out for 10 minutes to cool down first). In a separate small bowl make the dressing: 1 1/2 - 2 TBSPs of olive oil, juice of ½ lemon, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder to your liking. Mix well and pour onto the salad.