There are so many simple Arabic dishes that are vegan to begin with or can be easily prepared so. Today I will be sharing my version of one of my favorites, a pasta with lentils made the Syrian way; its name in Arabic translates to “finger burner.” I’m not sure why they call it this because I have yet to burn any fingers while preparing this dish (although I constantly burn them while baking ?), but it is delicious nonetheless!
The ingredients are so simple but one of the stars of this dish is pomegranate molasses. Combined with sumac, a tangy Middle Eastern spice, it takes this seemingly basic recipe to a whole new level.
When my mom first made this dish for me as a child, I immediately fell in love. It was such a comforting and simple dish that reminded me of my summer visits to Syria as a child, as it included all the traditional Syrian and Middle Eastern flavors, with bright and tangy flavors shining through.
The crunchy pita chips on top give the dish a pleasant texture and crunch with every bite, and the cilantro and garlic fuse together, creating a tantalizing aroma.
We cannot forget about the crispy caramelized onions. This is my absolute favorite way to cook onions because I love their crispy texture and the caramelized flavor they bring along with it. Look at how beautiful these onions look while caramelizing!
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. The lentils and pasta cook together in one pot, saving time and making it even easier to prepare!
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 6 cups water
- ½ lb. pasta
- 1 small onion (chopped into rings/strips)
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp dried mint
- 1½ tsp sumac
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Rinse and drain lentils. Put lentils in a pot with the water over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for for 20-30 minutes, until just cooked or al dente. (Note: The level of water should remain above the lentils throughout. Add more water ½ cup at a time if this is not the case.)
- Separate pita rounds with a knife so that they are only one layer thick. Spray each half with oil on both sides and cut into small squares. Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt if desired. Bake for 5-7 minutes, until crunchy.
- Add sumac, dried mint, salt, lemon juice, and pasta to the lentil mixture, and bring to medium heat. Cook pasta according to box directions, I cooked my orrecchiette for about 12 minutes, until al dente.
- Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat until they are crispy, caramelized, and browned on the edges. Drain, reserving remaining oil, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Add half of onions to the lentil-pasta mixture and reserve the remaining for topping.
- Sauté cilantro and garlic until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Add half to lentil-pasta mixture, and reserve remaining for topping.
- Serve hot, topped with the remaining cilantro and garlic, crispy onions, and pita chips. Drizzle with extra pomegranate molasses if desired.