Close-up photograph of an overhead white dutch oven with red lentils, tomato sauce, and cauliflower.

Harissa Cauliflower Lentil Stew with Lemon

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 2 good-sized servings
  • Category: dinner
  • Method: stove-top


A hearty lentil stew flavored with harissa and lemon. Perfect for serving over grains or with a side of toast.



½ cup uncooked red lentils

1 cup water

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil


2 tablespoons ghee (or olive oil to keep it vegan)

½ large yellow onion, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets, about ¾ of a pound of cauliflower head

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon spicy harissa (see note)

1 15oz can crushed tomatoes

1 ½ cups vegetable broth or water

Salt, to taste

For Serving

Zest from one lemon

Cilantro, for serving

Toasted sesame seeds, for serving


  1. In a pot, combine the lentils with the water, salt, and oil. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for about 22 to 25 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not completely falling apart. If you cook everything else while the lentils are cooking, this makes the dish go much faster.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add and melt the ghee then add in the minced onion and a sprinkle of salt. Heat until the onions become tender then measure in the cauliflower.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower has lost the raw texture and is starting to brown.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice, harissa, tomatoes, and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the cauliflower is tender. Add in the cooked lentils, a pinch more of salt, and the lemon zest. Heat the lentil stew until hot then top with cilantro and sesame seeds before serving.



Many stores carry harissa in jars or in tubes. In the intro for this recipe, I’ve linked to the brand I’m currently using. Whatever you decide to use (store-bought or homemade), taste before you put it into the stew. The brand I use is really spicy and the 1 tablespoon is plenty but it’s really a brand by brand decision and personal taste.

Keywords: lentil stew, harissa cauliflower, cauliflower lentil stew