This lentil salad recipe is one of my favorites. It’s healthy, filling, and dressed with a lemony, tangy tahini dressing. YUM! All the traditional Mediterranean flavors that you love are there. The mint, the garlic, the lemon– it checks every box. First, the lentils cook in chicken broth, garlic, and thyme for extra flavor. Then, they’re tossed together with krisp-y charred cauliflower, mint, feta, and then dressed with the aforementioned tangy tahini dressing.
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How to cook lentils
Lentils may be a small little legume, but they sure pack a mighty nutritional punch. Filled with fiber, potassium, and vitamins, this Mediterranean diet staple is something you’ll always want to have stocked in your pantry. I love to add them to soups, salads, or just eat as a side dish.
For this recipe, I like to cook the lentils in my cast iron skillet. If you don’t already own one, I really can’t recommend one enough. They are built to last; like a Ford 150. They are durable, resilient, and, could outlast generations if maintained correctly.
Anyways, back to the lentils.
Lentils may have a lot of nutrients, but they don’t have much flavor as they take on the flavors they’re cooked in. Which is why I love to use chicken broth for this recipe. I then add salt, a bunch of fresh garlic, and thyme. Once I add all those flavors to the skillet, it cooks in about 25 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking. Make your cauliflower.
How to cook cauliflower
The first time I roasted cauliflower, I knew there was no other way to cook it. In about 30 minutes, the vegetable gets so charred and crunchy, it’s impossible to stop eating it. Similar to the technique I use to make my cauliflower tikka masala, I start my mixing the cauliflower in a bowl with olive oil, breadcrumbs, corn starch, and salt. See? So easy. Then, spill the florets onto a sheet pan (another kitchen must have) and place into your oven for about a half hour at 450. This is the best way to make cauliflower — especially since you don’t really have to do anything, you just let it cook!
Homemade salad dressing
Okay, so I know I obsessed over the lentils and cauliflower, but the other star of this dish is the homemade tahini lemon dressing. Pro tip: May I suggest you double the recipe can keep this at hand to pour over everything?
This dressing is so good, you can usually find me eating it by the spoonful. It comes together quickly by mixing tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh mint. If you’ve ever made hummus before, you’ll notice it’s very similar flavors to everyones favorite dip, hummus made with tahini Tahini is not only used for delicious homemade hummus It has so much flavor! It adds the perfect amount of tang to add to the lentils and cauliflower.
And there you go! The base of this dish really is the lentils, cauliflower, and tahini dressing, but feel free to add other flavors you really love. I had some broccoli that I needed to use up, so I roasted that along with the cauliflower and added it in. I also had some arugula left over, so I sprinkled some in there as well. That’s the beauty about cooking is that you can make it your own based on the things that inspire you and that you love.
Make the lentils
- 1 cup of black (beluga) lentils
- 4 cups of chicken broth
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp of dried thyme leaves
Make the cauliflower
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut up into small florets
- 2 tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 tsp corn starch
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the tahini dressing
- 2 tbsp of tahini
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tbsp of fresh mint leaves (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
- Make the lentils. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, heat up olive oil on low-medium heat . Once the oil is hot, add your garlic. Let cook for about 1 minute.
- Add your thyme and cook until fragrant. About 1 minute.
- Add your chicken broth and lentils. Lower your flame to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender. About 25-minutes.
- Prepare the cauliflower. In a large mixing bowl, add your florets, bread crumbs, corn starch, salt & pepper, and olive oil. Mix well to cover all ingredients with the cauliflower. Add more olive oil if needed. Pour out cauliflower onto your prepared sheet pan and place in oven for 30 minutes or until florets form a nice crust.
- Make the dressing. While the lentils and cauliflower cook, add all your ingredients into a blender or magic bullet to make the dressing. After blending, taste and adjust flavors as needed.
- Once the lentils and cauliflower are cooked, prepare your salad. Mix together cooked lentils, cauliflower, and drizzle on your tahini dressing in a bowl. Feel free to include chopped mint leaves, arugula, and feta cheese and serve.
I recommend making the dressing in bulk a head of time to keep in the fridge to have at hand. It's great on chicken or salads.
For leftovers, store the dressing separately from the cauliflower and lentils and only dress what you eat. I found they get soggy when mixed with the dressing.