Middle Eastern Cauliflower and Lentil Salad
A few weeks ago I attended a cooking course here in New York City, hosted by the two food bloggers and founders of Green Kitchen Stories, Luise Vindahl and David Frenkiel. They showed us how to cook a few of their favourite recipes from their newly launched cookbook; Green Kitchen at Home and of course I made sure to get a signed copy of the cookbook with me home.
Today I opened the cookbook and tried one of their recipes for lunch; the Middle-Eastern Cauliflower and Lentil Salad. This recipe was really my type of food! The big pieces of slightly crunchy cauliflower together with the green lentils made it really filling and protein rich, and the red onion, the sweet apricots and the salty nuts made a great flavor combo (including the olives in my version) and as the tahini lover I am, I really liked the dressing. It was so delicious and nutritious that I thought it deserved to be shared here on my blog.
One thing I really like with Green Kitchen Stories (besides that they are great at taking beautiful photos on food!) is that they are mostly using whole foods, and that they are playing with interesting contrasts in their recipes. Like mixing something soft with something crunchy, something salty with something sweet, and perhaps something warm with something cold.
As always, I rarely follow a recipe exactly. I make adjustments based on what I have in my fridge at the time, or what I think may be a better version to use nutritionally or sensorily, and I might sometimes even change the method simply because I don’t have time to follow all the guided steps. The original recipe is below and the changes I made are in brackets. I would highly recommend to try it, either the original way or by following my tips, or perhaps do it your own way :) Good luck!!
Prep + cook time 40 minutes (Serves 4)
1 cauliflower, head and stalk
For the spice mix:
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I used less)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
A pinch of ground cayenne pepper
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
I added ½ teaspoon turmeric too, as I love the yellow color and I try to sneak in turmeric as often as I can in cooking due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties
1 small red onion, peeled
2 cups (14 ounces, or 0.5 liter ) cooked lentils or store bought
I added a few asparagus stalks as I had them in the fridge and I thought they could be a nice complement, and they worked fine but are not needed
12 soft or dried dates, pitted (I used dried apricots instead, as apricots are a better source of iron and calcium and dates are too sweet I think)
½ cup almonds, toasted (I used walnuts instead of almonds, to include a good omega-3 source)
2 cups baby spinach (I used kale instead of baby spinach, it was perfectly fine!)
I added some kalamata olives as topping to get something naturally salty, and we really liked them in it, so olives are definitely a keeper!
Creamy Tahini Dressing
2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons filtered water
2 teaspoons runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 435ºF and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and trim and roughly chop the stalk. Place in a mixing bowl, drizzle the oil and sprinkle the spices over the cauliflower, season and toss until well coated. Spread them on the tray and bake for 20–25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. (I didn’t have time to heat the oven and roast the cauliflower so I instead I just fried it with the spice mix to get some color).
3. Finely slice the red onion. Place all dressing ingredients in a serving bowl, season to taste and whisk to combine. Toss in the cooked lentils until well coated.
4. Thinly slice the dates on the diagonal and roughly chop the almonds. Add half to the bowl along with the cauliflower, onion and spinach and combine. Scatter the remaining dates and almonds over the salad.
• If you are sensitive to raw onion, massage the slices with ½ tablespoon of lemon juice to make it easier to digest and less intense in flavor.
• For a nut-free alternative, replace the almonds with pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds.