Nostalgic Onions

If your mom's green bean casserole is wearing thin but you just can't get enough of those crispy thin fried onions that come on top, the lentils and rice dish ($2.75) at Cafe Lili (5757 Westheimer, 713-952-6969) offers an excellent alternative. The Lebanese owners of this busy cafe sneak fistfuls of fried onions into a cuisine otherwise full of the sautéed variety. Underneath the sweet and crunchy strings on this side dish, the puffy rice clings to the round yellow beans. It could almost be a meal in itself, but also makes a nice accompaniment to Lili's fresh tabbouleh, which teems with mint, lemon and parsley.
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Christie Taylor