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Hummus and Lentils with Carmelized Onions

Back when I was an impoverished youth-ette in Boston, I sublet an apartment from a woman with a fabulous cookbook collection. In one book I found a recipe for something called “Medieval Lentils,” which was surpassingly filling and delicious, and cheap since it called only for onions, rice and lentils. I could make a pot of the stuff and have dinner for three or four nights, with improved flavor after every day of refrigeration. Sadly, in my rush to get the hell out of Dodge at the end of my lease, I neglected to steal the cookbook and eventually forgot the dish entirely.

Imagine my delight when I discovered basically the same recipe in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (which you should buy immediately if you don’t already own it). I decided to round out the meal with homemade Hummus and not-homemade Pita, and found a good Hummus recipe in the same book. I changed precisely nothing, and neither recipe is on Bittman’s own website, so I am just stealing them.   To assuage my guilt, however, I am saying to you again: buy the book.


(From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

  1. 2 cups (1 can) drained, well-cooked or canned chick peas
  2. 1/2 cup tahini
  3. 1/4 cup sesame oil from top of the tahini, or olive oil
  4. 1 small clove garlic, peeled, or to taste
  5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  6. 1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste
  7. Juice of 1 lemon, plus more as needed
  8. About 1/3 cup water, or as needed
  9. About 1 teaspoon olive oil

-Place everything except water and 1 teaspoon olive oil in the container of a food processor or blender and begin to process; add water as needed to make a smooth paste.

-Taste and add more garlic, salt, lemon juice or cumin as needed. Serve drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of cumin or chopped parsley. Serve with vegetables, crackers or pita.

Lentils and Rice with Carmelized Onions

(From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything)

  1. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped, plus 1 large or 2 medium onions, halved and sliced (I doubled the onions because I love them; if you do this, increase the oil by at least two more tablespoons)
  3. 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  4. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  6. 2 cups lentils (one 16 ounce bag), washed and picked over
  7. About 6 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock, or water, warmed
  8. 1 cup long or short grained rice

-Place 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, deep saucepan and turn heat to medium. A minute later, add the chopped onion and cook until it begins to get tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and cook 3 minutes more. Add the lentils, stir, and add about 4 cups of liquid.

-Cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils begin to soften, about 20 minutes. Add enough of the remaining liquid so that lentils are covered by about an inch of liquid. Stir in the rice. Cover and turn heat to low.

-Meanwhile, place the remaining oil in a medium skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook the onion slices, stirring frequently, until they are dark brown but not burned, about 15 minutes. Scoop out onions and let them drain on paper towels while you finish cooking the lentils and rice.

-Check the rice and lentils after 20 minutes. When both are tender and the liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready. If lentils and rice are not tender, add more liquid, cover and cook for a few more minutes. If, on the other hand, the rice and lentils are soft and there is a lot of liquid remaining, raise the heat a bit and cook, uncovered, until it evaporates.

-Serve the rice and lentils garnished with the caramelized onion (or do what I do, and stir them right in).


About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

8 responses »

  1. oh be still my heart! the ONLY thing better than lentils is hummus!
    it’s right up there with chopped liver in my book!

  2. I actually like the hummus in my lentils, although that is probably a violation of some rule. I would eat nothing but lentils and maybe lemon curd forever. I would be” regular” and never have scurvy…..

  3. funny lady there miss annie…

    we eat a lotta hummus in this house
    i will be making those lentils
    and soon

  4. claudia, I hope you like them as much as I do. Its funny how so few ingredients and such simple preparation can create something so deeply satisfying.

  5. Hummus and lentils — pure JOY!! I just love, love, love these recipes!

    Thank you for stopping by the website and leaving such wonderful comments! I think I’m going to go back to to bed. The chickens, chicks, ducklings, turkeys, dogs, cat, husband, and guineas have been fed — so I’m off the hook –right? I can go grab some guilt-free sleep!


  6. Lacy, I loved your blog! I’ll be back often. 🙂 I personally feel so guilty reading about your morning routine (I have coffee, read the paper, and watch my son get himself ready) that I may have to enter therapy.

  7. I adore Mark Bittman’s books, and the lentils recipe is my favorite. It’s endlessly customizable, too – just add whatever vegetable you want and cook a little before you add the lentils. I like to make it with red lentils – those just disappear into a delicious stewy orangeness.

    He also has “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” and it is my bible!

  8. lucretia, I think I’ll try what you suggest – I have tons of zucchini at the moment, and I’m thinking carrots might be interesting, too. Bittman’s book is my go-to “how do I do this?” resources, and i am hoping to branch out soon into the vegetarian book and the collections of international recipes.


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