Roasted Cauliflower, Tahini & Lentil Salad

This bright cauliflower lentil salad is filled with pickled onions, dried apricots, olives (or capers) and a creamy lemon tahini dressing.

Roasted Cauliflower, Tahini & Lentil Salad

Well, I’ll be honest – these 4:30 Chicago winter sunsets take some getting used to, so I made this cauliflower lentil salad full of bright colors and flavors to make up for it. 🙂 At least that’s what I tell myself as I seriously consider getting one of those vitamin D lamps. Have any of you ever tried one?

Anyway, back to the salad! I was going to save this recipe to post in January. You know, once everyone wants to get healthy and eat vegetables again… but then I realized – you’re all here because you love vegetables, holidays or not!! This cauliflower lentil salad doubles as a holiday side dish (I’m bringing it to Christmas dinner) and as an every day veggie meal (I love it for lunch).

Roasted Cauliflower, Tahini & Lentil Salad

There are a few components to this recipe, all of which can be made in advance unless you want your cauliflower piping hot, in which case, you can roast that at the last minute. Personally, I think this salad is delicious at room temp, and I’ve also eaten it cold out of the fridge (like I said above – it’s great for lunch). Here’s what’s in it:

Seasoned French green lentils: Be sure to use French green lentils here. They have a more al dente texture than brown lentils, which, to me, get too mushy for salads. And because I find plain lentils to be very bland, I season them with lemon, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and a good bit of sea salt and pepper. The recipe below makes quite a bit more lentils than you’ll need for this salad, but I like to make a big batch – they’re handy to keep in the fridge for salads during the week. Also, it’s hard to cook a teeny tiny pot of lentils.

Bright, briny things: Pickled onions and olives (or capers) give a bright pop of flavor that contrasts the nutty roasted cauliflower. For the record, my husband Jack has been giving me a hard time lately for always describing food using the word “pop,” but I can’t think of another way to describe bright, contrasting food, so “pop” it is for now.

Creamy tahini dressing: Mix together tahini, lemon, olive oil, and sea salt… done.

Something crunchy: Pine nuts, sliced almonds, or if you’re nut free: pepitas.

Something sweet: Diced, dried apricots or dates round out the nutty/earthy flavors of the cauliflower and lentils. The sweetness also balances the tartness of the bright, briny things.

Something green: Peppery arugula, because it is a salad after all.

Roasted Cauliflower, Tahini & Lentil Salad

I hope this one brightens your day! xo

Roasted Cauliflower, Tahini & Lentil Salad

For more salads that I love, have a look at the salads section of our recipe page!

Spiced Apple Crisp with Pomegranates

Spiced Apple Crisp with Pomegranates

Is there anything better than warm apple crisp baking in the oven?

This has been my go-to dessert lately to serve to friends and family. It’s easy to make, it’s relatively healthy, and it will make your kitchen smell amazing!

Spiced Apple Crisp with Pomegranates

I’ve made lots and lots of apple crisps in the past but this one takes the cake. It starts with warm, stewed, soft apples that are cooked down with a little apple cider vinegar for pop. Then they’re spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of cardamom. I love these apples so much that you could just stop here and eat the apples by themselves if you wanted a truly healthy fruit-only dessert. They’d also be insanely good on oatmeal for breakfast.

Spiced Apple Crisp with Pomegranates

But since this is dessert and it’s called apple crisp, let’s talk about that crispy topping! It’s a mix of rolled oats, almond flour, walnuts, coconut oil, brown sugar (or coconut sugar), and of course more cinnamon, because I don’t think there could ever be too much cinnamon in an apple crisp. This also happens to be vegan and gluten-free because these ingredients taste so amazing on apples that butter or flour just aren’t necessary here.

This recipe is great for entertaining because it can almost entirely be made in advance. I make the apples and the topping ahead of time and divide the the apples among the ramekins. When I’m about ready to serve it, I sprinkle on the topping and pop them in the oven.

I like to make these extra festive by sprinkling them with pomegranates. Serve with vanilla ice cream and dig in!

Spiced Apple Crisp with Pomegranates

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Every holiday party needs a great dip and this baked cheesy cauliflower dip is sure to be a hit at yours!

We’ve made this dip so many times over the past few weeks perfecting the recipe. I have to tell you that it’s been such a joy because it’s FREEZING outside and there is truly no greater comfort in life than having a hot skillet of creamy, cheesy goodness bubbling and baking away in the oven.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Ordinarily, I’d give “party dip” a bit of a sideways glance – I’m not a huge fan of the who-knows-what ingredients plus a brick of cream cheese that are often in them. But I like to think of this dip as a Love & Lemons-does-midwest-style party dip. Its creamy base is made with pureed cauliflower, Greek yogurt, and a touch of Dijon mustard. It’s topped with cauliflower florets, scallions, and a layer of Roth Grand Cru – a nutty alpine-style cheese that’s made nearby (to us) in Wisconsin – that creates the most perfect flavorful, golden, bubbly crust on top.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Start by breaking your cauliflower into small florets. Lightly boil it, then blend 3/4 of the cauliflower to create the dip’s base, while reserving the remaining florets to layer in for texture.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Blend the cauliflower with Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, and a good pinch of salt. I love how the yogurt adds a bit of tang and the cauliflower becomes lusciously creamy. These flavors work so perfectly with the delicious, mild flavor of the Roth Grand Cru that gets melted on top.

We seriously love this cheese – it’s great on cheese boards and it melts beautifully on this dip. Roth cheeses are made with rBST-free milk sourced within 60 miles of their creamery, so it’s really great quality Wisconsin cheese.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Pour the creamy mixture into a skillet and layer it with scallions, cauliflower florets, and grated cheese.

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

That’s it – it’s ready to bake!

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Bake until golden and bubbly. Meanwhile, get your baguette sliced, toasted, and ready for dipping!

Baked Cheesy Cauliflower Party Dip

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This creamy, nourishing roasted red pepper soup is tangy and delicious. It’s made with fennel, carrots, thyme, and cannellini beans. Vegan, gluten-free.

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

If you ate too many cookies this weekend, I have just the thing for you! This roasted red pepper soup is light and nourishing, yet creamy and delicious. Plus, I think the red soup and green herbs look so festive! If you haven’t gotten around to decorating a tree this year (or if you’re tired of decorating cookies), you can decorate your soup! 🙂

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Because red peppers aren’t in season, I use jarred roasted red peppers, which are a super convenient pantry ingredient. Fresh carrots, fresh fennel, and thyme round out the tangy flavor of the peppers. Cannellini beans add creaminess to the soup without adding cream or nuts.

This roasted red pepper soup recipe is an old favorite – it’s on page 203 of our first cookbook which (shameless plug!) makes a great gift. I made just a few tweaks to the original recipe, which are listed below. As a contrast to the smooth texture of this soup, I added chopped roasted red peppers and extra herbs. It’s a small detail, but the chunky diced peppers give it a nice texture.

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

This is what the roasted red pepper soup looks like before you blend it:

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Give it a whirl, then, voila… you have creamy orange-red Christmas soup (or soup for whatever holiday you celebrate).

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Like most soups, you can make it ahead and keep it in the fridge for a few days – the flavors just get better and better. It also freezes well.

Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup Carrot & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

If you’re craving more soup, go browse more soups in the soup section of our recipe index!

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

These tahini almond cookies are the perfect Christmas cookie! They’re spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger and are decorated with pretty pomegranates.

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

I’m not sure why the heck it took me 7 years of blogging about natural foods (that’s 7 holiday seasons) to think of using pomegranates to decorate cookies. Of course, I’ve used them atop Christmas crostini and even holiday hummus, but come on Jeanine, it’s December and what we really need are cookies! These tahini almond cookies are such yummy little treats… they also happen to be vegan and gluten free.

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

For this post, we’re partnering, once again, with POM Wonderful because if I haven’t stated it enough on this blog over the years – we think pomegranates ARE wonderful! 🙂 Those cute little POM POMS arils bring such a sweet pop of flavor, plus who doesn’t love a little antioxidant boost by way of dessert?

This cookie dough is made with almond flour as the base, tahini as the binder, and maple syrup as the sweetener. To enhance the almond I used almond extract instead of the vanilla that I would normally use. And to make them extra nice, I spiced them with cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. These flavors are so lovely with the nutty tahini.

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

This is a super easy one-bowl recipe. Just mix the dough, scoop them, and lightly flatten them (they won’t spread too much in the oven).

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

And decorate them! I can’t get over the little ruby red gems. These make me so happy!

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies

POM POMS (POM Wonderful’s brand of arils, or seeds, derived from fresh pomegranates), are available now through January in convenient 4.3 and 8-ounce packs. Find them in the cut fruit produce section of most grocery stores.

These cookies freeze well. Make an extra batch (pictured are 2 batches), and freeze any that you might have leftover. Or better yet, bring them to a holiday cookie swap to share.

Tahini & Pomegranate Almond Cookies