As I watched thousands of disgruntled Braves fans hurl trash at the umpires l during the crazy wild card play-in game on Friday night, I couldn’t help but think, “Sheesh, I kinda understand how that ump feels.” This week the universe has leveled a few souvenir pop cups and hot dog wrappers right at my head. I’ve been cramming nonstop to memorize an impossibly long list of pharmaceuticals and brain structures, I can’t reliably see out of my right eye, and I have discovered (over the course of three trips to the pharmacy in the last 36 hours) that the employees of the 55th Street Walgreens have made it their mission to make me as miserable and disgruntled as possible. I don’t want to scare you away with my whining, but I like to think that all of this would be enough to make anybody crabby.
As I try to dodge this debris and keep my whining to a relative minimum, I think about a favorite response to this kind of self-pity in my family’s vernacular:”you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”
Pretty much every time I get an unfair call from whoever/whatever is calling the cosmic balls and strikes of life, my instinct is to throw the kind of fit that would get me a 3-game suspension and an unflattering clip on SportsCenter. Step two: remind myself that you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Step three: throw a tiny fit but make it short and then start planning what kind of comfort food you’re going to make for dinner.
This mujadarra calmed me down from the verge of fit-throwing on more than one occasion this week. How could copious amounts of caramelized onions AND carbs not be anti-anxiety? It manages to be incredibly simple but not at all boring and its only ingredients are things that always have in my pantry: onions, lentils, and rice. It also allows me to burn things on purpose, a well documented source of joy for me and a damn good stress relieving technique. I highly suggest adding it to your comfort food repertoire. Or your “it’s Wednesday night and I have nothing in my fridge and I really shouldn’t order takeout again” repertoire. A few bites of mujadarra and you’ll be feeling like life pitched you a hanging curveball instead of a beer can doubling as a projectile missile.
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
6 c onions (don’t skimp!), halved and thinly sliced
1 c jasmine rice
1 c green lentils or French lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 t salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put lentils, 1/2 t salt, and 4 c water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile*, cook the rice. Add rice, 1/2 t salt, and 1 1/2 c water to a heavy, oven-proof pot. Bring to a boil. When rice begins to boil, cover, transfer to the oven, and cook for exactly 17 minutes. Yep, I doubted this technique too, but it worked like a charm for me. And I’m sort of inept at cooking rice, so I’ll take any zanily successful techniques I can find.
Meanwhile, cook the onions. Melt butter with 1 T olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onions and toss to coat. Cook over medium low- slow and steady is important here – for about 5 minutes or until the onions start releasing juices. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and a deep golden brown. This took about 20 minutes for me. Add the last tablespoon of olive oil and turn the heat to high. Cook 3-4 more minutes until the bottom layer of onions starts to get very crispy/burnt. Try not to stir too much or they won’t get crisp.
Combine rice, lentils, and onions and let sit for at least 15 minutes to marry the flavors. It gets better the longer it sits (mmmmm leftovers for lunch!) Yes, it’s really that simple. Serve with greek yogurt, and chopped onions and tomatoes.
*A note on the “meanwhiles”…if “multitask” is your middle name then 1) hey, we share a middle name! That’s cool! and 2) you can cook the lentils, rice, and onions pretty much simultaneously. If you prefer to cook at a more leisurely pace or are terrified of having 3 burners plus the oven going at once, feel free to take one step at a time.