I’ve thought quite a bit about what I would serve if I ever open a restaurant (what I daydream about). Recently, the first things that always comes to mind are these broccoli bites. I make the base (these lentil bites) every other week with a variation based on what I’m making. Sandwiches, snacks, and a main course are just a few ways. These broccoli bites are a variation of which I’m particularly proud. The broccoli and almonds are perfect with the lentils and the cream sauce turns this into a show-stopping, decadent meal. This would definitely be on my restaurant menu but for now, I’ll just share the recipe.
Lentil Broccoli Bites with Cream Sauce
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1/3 cup diced red onion
- 1 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup brown or green lentils
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup whole wheat panko
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425˚. Toss broccoli with onions, garlic, and olive oil and spread out in a single layer on a sheet tray covered with parchment. Roast broccoli until starting to char, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse into small pieces (no bigger than a lentil). Measure out about 1 cup.
- While broccoli is roasting, combine lentils and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until lentils are tender, 23 to 25 minutes. If lentils are not tender and water has been absorbed, add more water and continue to cook. Drain off any excess water.
- In a food processor, combine the cooked lentils, broccoli mixture, nuts, panko, herbs, salt, and pepper. Pulse a few times to start combining the mixture. Crack the egg in and pulse a few more times until the mixture is combined but the lentils are still holding shape. Set aside and let rest while the oven preheats to 425˚.
- Take the lentil mixture and roll into 12 balls, roughly the size of a golfball. Place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Bake meatballs until browning and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
- While the lentil bites are cooking, make sauce. Heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Measure in heavy cream and the 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Bring the sauce to a boil and let cook until it thickens slightly, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in lemon juice at the end.
- Divide the lentil bites into two bowls and drizzle sauce on top.
One of the reasons I love this recipe so much is because of how easy it is to adapt for different dietary needs. It’s a solid dinner, especially when paired with a side salad or grain dish.
Vegan: I’m putting this variation at the top of my list because I think it’s amazing. To make the broccoli bites vegan, swap out the egg for a flax egg (1 tablespoon flax seeds + 3 tablespoons of water) and for the sauce, use this almond milk version (so good!)
Cauliflower: Swap out the broccoli for roasted cauliflower. Not as colorful but still good!
One of my favorite weekend preps is roasting vegetables for future lunches and dinners. Roasted broccoli is one I turn to quite often, which is a great way to speed up these bites (along with pre-cooking the lentils.) If you roast up a few stalks of broccoli, here’s a few ideas on how to use them: