Lentils Aren't Just For Vegetarians Anymore!

A vegetarian dish with a lot to give


As much as I tout a high protein diet to my clients, I actually love vegetarian dishes. 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.

Photo courtesy of feministjulie via Flickr/cc
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.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: gildina
    634769 5

    you never salt the water when cooking beans or legumes; it thoughfen the skin.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:24 PM

  • Snooth User: scottian
    936220 12

    Ok folks - you present yourselves as professionals here. Start proofreading your stuff and using apostrophes correctly.
    LENTILS is what you are looking for in your headline - a simple plural, formed by add "s".
    The improper use of the possessive apostrophe - LENTIL'S - is careless and embarrassing.
    And in the second paragraph, you should have been invited to your boyfriend's COUSIN'S (house - implied), not cousins.
    To make matters worse, the email version of this story also makes turns the plural VEGETARIANS into VEGETARIAN'S.
    If you have a proofreader, fire that individual. If you don't have a proofreader, hire one.

    May 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM

  • Snooth User: scottian
    936220 12

    My apologies - please amend to read 'a simple plural, formed by ADDING "s". '

    May 16, 2012 at 3:50 PM

  • Snooth User: Fernlogan
    743320 9

    Boy, Scottian, what side of the bed did you get up on?

    May 16, 2012 at 4:44 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Perhaps my hands were too messy from the LENTILS to hit the apostrophe correctly. My college English professor appreciates your diligence. Would you like his name? I went to Penn State. And graduated with honors. Just so you know...

    May 16, 2012 at 4:54 PM

  • Rona,

    I like you girlfriend! And I love lentils!

    And Scottian,

    "To make matters worse, the email version of this story also makes turns the plural VEGETARIANS into VEGETARIAN'S."

    You may want to proofread your own writing. Or hire someone to do it for you. :-)

    May 16, 2012 at 6:02 PM

  • Rona,
    Arguing with a reader, who is absolutely correct about your bad grammar, then boasting about your honors is childish and embarrassing. I find your behavior disgusting and unprofessional. Grow up!

    May 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

  • There are two grammatical mistakes in your headline:
    vegetarian's means: of the vegetarian. Examples:
    this is a typical vegetarian's diet
    this is a vegetarian's main source of protein
    lentil's means: of the lentil
    the lentil's sources of proteins and minerals are many
    the lentil's color may be brown or green
    the lentil's size may be very small or not so small
    What you mean to say is:
    Lentils aren't just for vegetarians.
    Your mistake: instead of the plural of lentil and vegetarian you wrote the possessive construction expressing possession:
    of the lentil, of the vegetarian... Rona: 'Perhaps my hands were too messy from the LENTILS to hit the apostrophe correctly.' This is precisely the point: there was no apostrophe to hit... Just accept your mistake with grace and move on, as we all should...

    May 17, 2012 at 11:57 AM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    OK...I'm being graceful. Thank you all for the English lesson. Now let's go cook something, shall we?

    May 17, 2012 at 8:10 PM

  • Snooth User: glucot
    869047 1

    I assume that none of you know how to cook because most of your comments focus on Rona's grammar and not the recipe.

    May 23, 2012 at 6:28 AM

  • Unbelievable! Nothing lilke being nice enough to post a recipe and then have the grammar police attack you ...WTF! Thanks for a great recipe Rona!

    Jun 02, 2012 at 4:36 PM

  • Snooth User: goodbadog
    367907 2

    Correct grammer does make a difference!

    Jun 12, 2012 at 9:35 AM

  • Snooth User: jannetan
    791649 11

    "The medium is the message."

    Jun 15, 2012 at 6:29 PM

  • Snooth User: Rona Lewis
    359096 115

    Jannetan, I"m impressed you're quoting Marshall McLuhan. Usually only those in marketing and advertising know of him....

    Jun 15, 2012 at 7:05 PM

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