This is a wonderful vegetarian or vegan main dish, or a side dish for a large party. It’s perfect when you have folks with different dietary needs, also being gluten and dairy free. And because it is served at room temperature, you can make it several hours ahead. It will only get more flavorful as the lentils absorb the tahini sauce. What more can you ask for? On one platter you have your greens, roasted vegetable and starch/protein. The dates add a sweet note while the almonds add crunch and even more protein.
I served this to a large gathering, the leftovers the next day were still yummy (and didn’t last long).
The original recipe came from Food and Wine, but it came to me about a year ago via one of the members of my book club. It’s been hanging out just waiting for the right time to make it.
I have given two measurements for the spices. The original recipe used the smaller amount but I found it was not sufficiently spiced for my taste. Cauliflower is quite mild and can absorb a lot of flavor.
This recipe serves 6-8
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup beluga or green lentils, rinsed and checked for small stones
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, briefly toasted in a dry frying pan
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 10 dates, pitted and chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 cups loosely packed arugula or baby spinach
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a pie plate or sheet pan and toast for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown. When cool, coarsely chop.
- Increase the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Meanwhile heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil and add the lentils. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
- Prepare the cauliflower. On a rimmed baking sheet toss the cauliflower florets with 1/4 cup of olive oil, the spices (cumin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper. Roast until tender and slightly browned, about 20-25 minutes. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk the tahini with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil until smooth. Add the lemon juice, honey or maple syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix well.
- Add the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat.
- On a large platter lay a bed of the lentils, top with the roasted cauliflower, dates, almonds, and sliced onion. Sprinkle the arugula or baby spinach on top and serve.