In Cyprus fakes moudzentra (pronounced fakhés) is a staple lentil dish which is cooked with brown lentils and rice and then caramelized onions, called “tiganissi” are mixed in. The only spices used are salt and pepper, yet this very simple vegan dish is very healthy and delicious. The other way we make this dish is to substitute rice with any kind of pasta. Rice or pasta is not the main ingredient but it is mainly used to absorb the fluids and thicken the dish to resemble like a risotto and not a soup.
When my friend Natasha, of 5 Star Foodie announced her new 5 Star Makeover Event which is to make any kind of Pasta and incorporate different kinds of ingredients, I decided to make over this classic Cypriot dish and turn it into a pasta dish.
In the classic Cypriot recipe no tomato is added. I added some tomato paste, although I regret I did not add some fresh tomatoes as well, mainly to give it more colour, and when the dish was cooked I mixed some of the flavourable “pasto” in it, which made this humble dish into a “gourmet” dish.
You can still make this recipe vegan without the meat and it will still tastes great. However, if you do want some extra flavour and don’t have pasto, try substituting it with another smoked meat or still add your favourite sausage to it.
Kritharaki me Fakes kai Pasto (Orzo with Lentils and Pasto), Recipe by Ivy
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
2 cups small brown lentils
2 cups kritharaki, (orzo)
1 big onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- About 1 cup pasto Lakonias (Smoked ham from Lakonia)
- 3 cups water
- Clean the lentils as sometimes some debris may be found in the package and then wash them.
- Put them in a saucepan with enough water to cover them boil for five minutes.
- Drain them and add fresh water and put to boil again.
- Meantime, in a frying pan heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until it caramelizes and starts to turn to brown.
- When lentils begin boiling again mix in the tomato paste, lower heat and cook for fifteen minutes.
Then add the pasta and season with salt and pepper and mix in the caramelized onions, together with the oil and simmer for another 15 – 20 minutes, mixing every now and then, until the pasta is cooked.If needed add more water.
- Five minutes before they are cooked, cut the smoked ham in smaller pieces and mix in with the lentils and serve.
I will be really busy the next few days with the upcoming name day of my son, so I will probably not be around but I promise to tell you all about it on Sunday.
The recipe for the original Fakes Moutzentra is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of my e-cookbook, sold on all Amazon stores.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,