This bright cauliflower lentil salad is filled with pickled onions, dried apricots, olives (or capers) and a creamy lemon tahini dressing.
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).
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.
I hope this one brightens your day! xo
For more salads that I love, have a look at the salads section of our recipe page!