I spent my senior year of college living with five amazing men. Three of the six of us had been studying abroad for the second half of our junior year (Ben in Australia, Brendan in Ireland, and me in Aotearoa/New Zealand), leaving the house-hunting to other three (Zak, Chris, and Antoun). That meant that—until I got there—I’d never seen the house. Being the only woman in the house was strange for me up until we actually moved in—when I remembered that these guys are my best friends and were going to be incredible roommates. What ensued that year was hilarity, chaos, and a lot of self-discovery.
For someone with a lot of men issues, this was the perfect safe space to learn and grow. During that year I found true friendship and camaraderie. As it turned out, I was most often the “messy” one: leaving stuff laying around and then grumbling about having to clean. Although I cooked, Brendan was the Chef of the house—creating gourmet-like meals after biking home through the wet streets of Eugene. Chris always had a project going on—whether it be his suped-up mustang or adding parts to his already-crazy-fast (that’s totally a technical term) computer. Ben taught me a lot about balance and priorities that year—between his preschool practicum and full-time school schedule, he always made time for sports (joining the flag-football team, playing racquetball, and running the numerous trails around town). Zak was passionate and put 100% into anything he did. That year—one of his roughest—he taught me a lot about being human and what perseverance is. And Antoun? Well, there are no words for Antoun. He is good at everything, yet humble. He is pure love. He was always energetic and happy to do anything. He treated me like I was someone special every single day. And he loved his family above all else.
All of Antoun’s siblings (he’s the second of four) came through the University of Oregon. I am extremely fortunate to know and love them all, as well as their incredible parents, who moved to the states from Lebanon. For our graduation party, Antoun’s mom (Mama K) made the best tabbouleh and hummus I’ve ever had. When I moved back home I asked Toun for a few of Mama K’s recipes. This one is my favorite because it fills me up with it’s rich, deep flavor and density while giving me all the protein and fiber I need in a balanced vegetarian dish. It’s simple and uses ingredients I usually already have at home.
Also, it makes me warm to think of my Lebanese ‘ohana across the ocean .
Mama K’s Lentil Mjadra
- 1 c uncooked lentils
- 4 c water
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil [Mama K uses 1/2 c oil but I like to make mine lighter]
- 1/8 Tbsp pepper
- 1/8 Tbsp cumin, optional [I used more like 1/2 because I love cumin]
- salt to taste
- 1/2 c uncooked brown rice
Rinse lentils and place in a medium pot with water.
Boil for 20 minutes on medium.
In a separate pan, saute chopped onions in oil and spices (I also added a dash of turmeric cause it felt right).
Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Enjoy! Makes about 4 1/2 heaping cup servings (although Ben can’t get enough of it and can eat half the pot when he’s hungry). This thickens as it cools and may be eaten hot or cold.
[We enjoyed ours with some broiled Spike tofu ]
Nutrition Facts [1 heaping cup]
Calories 235 • Fat 6g • Sodium 5mg [before salt is added] • Carbs 32g • Fiber 10g • Sugar 0g • Protein 12g