Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces|225 grams beluga or French green (Puy) lentils (a generous 1 cup), picked over and rinsed
1 ½ cups|70 grams packed fresh spinach or chard, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely minced preserved lemon rind (SEE NOTE)
1 tablespoon harissa (optional)
- In a Dutch oven (casserole), heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring regularly, until the vegetables have softened and started to brown around the edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, cumin, and pepper and cook until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pour in 5 cups (40 ounces|1.25 liters) water and deglaze any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the lentils, stir to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer vigorously until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 20 to 30 minutes depending on the variety.
- Stir in the chopped spinach and cook for another minute or so to wilt the leaves. Add the lemon juice, preserved lemon, and chili paste (if using). Stir to combine, taste and adjust salt to your liking. (I usually end up adding another ½ teaspoon or so.) Remove from the heat and serve.
NOTE: The most flavorful part of preserved citrus is the rind. What I generally do at home is pick a variety of lemon with a thick rind, and once it has been preserved and is ready for consumption, I discard the flesh and seeds, grind the rind in a food processor, and store in ice cube trays in the freezer.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This recipe has been reprinted with permission of the author from The Arabesque Table: Contemporary Recipes from the Arab World.
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