Lentils Aren’t Just For Vegetarians Anymore!

Plant products lend themselves to an extreme amount of creativity. Beans and lentils have a lot of protein in them too. There are a lot of starchy carbs, which is why I often use this kind of dish only on occasion or for a healthy, filling side dish.

I had the honor of being invited to my boyfriend’s cousin’s for Easter. I was asked to make a vegetarian dish for one of the daughters and this is what I came up with. I was amazed that everyone had some. I figured the guys would be concentrating on the “pizzagaina” (pronounced “gene” with a hard ‘g’). This is a rustic, stuffed pizza sort of dish that is absolutely fabulous and about 5,492 calories a slice.

It’s been my job to bring a healthy dish every year (Okay, the past three years, since we started dating). I wanted something special that was a little different-and that I liked, too. Granted, there’s very little I DON’T like, but making a big salad or just some sauteed veggies with brown rice seemed a little boring.

Walnut oil adds smoky flavor while the orange gives the vinaigrette substance and hold the lentils together well. Lentils are a pleasure to make, aren’t they? They’re quick cooking, low fat and high in protein. You can serve this warm or room temperature. It loses something when served chilled. I wouldn’t if I were you.

Lentil Salad with Cauliflower, Walnuts, and Roasted Orange Vinaigrette Recipe – Serves 12

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: About 2 hours

Nutritional Breakdown:

  • Calories: 387 Carbohydrates: 33gr
  • Fat: 24gr Fiber: 15gr
  • Cholesterol: 0 Sugars: 5gr
  • Sodium: 218gr Protein: 14gr

  • 2 oranges, halved and de-seeded
  • ¾ cup OJ with pulp
  • ½ cup walnut oil
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • Head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • One 16-ounce bag of lentils
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 cups walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put the oranges face down on a foil-lined baking sheet, and then roast for 40 minutes. Remove the oranges from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Scoop out the pulp into a blender and blend on high speed for about 1 minute. Lower the speed to medium then slowly add OJ, the oil and vinegar while the blender is still on and continue to blend until the ingredients are emulsified. Add salt to taste.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and salt. Place the cauliflower on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the florets over and bake another 15-20 minutes or until the cauliflower is crisp and brown around the edges.

While your cauliflower is roasting, put your lentils in a large pot and put in enough cold water so that it is 3 inches above the lentils. Add a tablespoon of salt then bring the water to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft (Older lentils take longer to cook so depending on how old the lentils are, they may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour). Drain the lentils and spread them on a baking sheet so they cool quickly.

Leave the oven on 350 degrees for the walnuts. Bake the walnuts in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Once the lentils, cauliflower and walnuts have cooled, mix the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Add the vinaigrette to the lentils and mix together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.