I have recently started making an effort to serve one or two meatless meals a week. I often make spaghetti or chili without meat, so it’s not totally new to me, but I made the conscious decision to do it more regularly as a way to spend less on groceries. A few weeks ago that led me to try kusherie, a recipe I found in a library book I had, The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook.
Kusherie is Egyptian lentils and rice. The recipe from the cookbook is reprinted here in a Denver Post article, but there are lots of versions around the web. I tried it because I had all the ingredients and it looked pretty simple, but honestly I wasn’t expecting much based on the ingredient list. As it turned out, we all enjoyed it, and Skippy even asked to have it again so I served it last night, too. It’s not gourmet by any means, but more in the category of comfort food.
As is usually the case, I did not follow any recipe exactly, but mostly followed the $5 Dinner recipe. It takes several pots and pans, but it’s not at all difficult. Here’s what I did:
1. Cook 1 cup (or more) of elbow macaroni
2. Cook 1 cup of brown rice (I use quick-cooking brown rice)
3. Cook 1 ¼ cups green lentils (simmer on med-hi heat in about 4 cups of water until soft—not mushy—this took me 30-45 mins)
4. While the lentils are cooking, combine the sauce ingredients and simmer for at least 20 mins:
- 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp ground cumin (or to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- dash of cayenne
- salt and pepper
- chopped celery leaves (I didn’t chop them and just put them in while it simmered, then removed them)
5. Slice an onion, separate into rings, and cook it slowly in a little olive oil until browned/caramelized
6. Combine the lentils and rice; if desired, stir a little of the sauce into the macaroni.
7. To serve, put a scoop of macaroni on the plate, top with lentil/rice mixture, spoon some sauce over it, and top with browned onions.
I was the only one in the family who would eat the onions, but in my opinion they are a vital component of the dish, so if you like onions at all, make a lot. They are cooked past the sharp in-your-face onion flavor to a mild sweetness, so it’s worth trying even if you think you don’t like onions.
Inexpensive, easy, and a kid-pleaser…I think this is going to go into the rotation!