Mujadara with Collard Greens

Having grown up in a humid, tropical island, I find myself home when temperatures sore high into the ninety’s. I celebrate sultry, thick air, and afternoon rain showers, especially when accompanied by thunder. That moment, right after it stops raining, when the clouds disseminate into the horizon, giving way to clear dusk skies, is the perfect moment for enjoying the kind of recipe I am sharing with you today.

I discovered Mujadara through the always-creative Melissa Clark. While Mujadara is Arabic in origin, it embodies everything deliciously Cuban rice and black beans dish should. It is moist and flavorful, hearty and satisfying. Rice, lentils, and leafy greens are slowly cooked to perfection, perfumed in a beautiful combination of coconut oil, cumin, and cinnamon. A little bit of cayenne and a lot of cilantro add a pop to every mouthful, making this dish perfectly balanced and rich. 

Different from most of the recipes I have been posting throughout the summer, Mujadara requires time and the kind of leisurely effort stews demand for flavors and textures to develop. There is a little bit of chopping to be done, as well as the caramelization of onions, soaking of legumes, and toasting of spices. Once in the pot, the dish comes together on its own, as it cooks over a low flame, almost unattended. This meal is a one-pot wonder, which could only taste better if topped with a fried egg. 

Mujadara with Collard Greens

Serves 4

Cook Time: 40-50 minutes

Barely Adapted from Melissa Clark

  • ½ cup black beluga lentils
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped (or shallots, or leeks)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup long grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • Dash to ¼ tsp. of cayenne
  • 6-7 collard green leaves
  • Handful of cilantro

Place lentils in a large bowl and soak in enough water to cover by one inch. While the lentils soak, heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat; once hot, add onions and salt. Cook until onions are soft and caramelized (10 minutes). Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant. Add rice, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and cayenne, and stir for 30 seconds. Drain lentils and stir into the pot. Add 2 ¼ cups of water, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes over low heat. Rinse collard greens and cut into 1-inch thick ribbons. If the ribs of the collard greens are too thick, remove them by folding leaf in half and running a pairing knife down the center.

Once the 20 minutes have passed, place collard greens over the lentils, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. At this point, the rice, lentils, and greens should be tender. If not, cook until they are.  Remove from heat and let stand for another 5 minutes. Add cilantro and stir. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Devour while still hot, even though tastes even better the next day. Enjoy!