My favorite recipes are rooted in something familiar but include a twist to make it more unique and fun. Pilafs are usually grain-based but this lentil pilaf highlights one of my favorite legumes: black lentils. Paired with roasted romanesco, a spice-laden dressing, and dates, the pilaf is unique, beautiful, and tastes amazing. One word of advice: don’t try to swap red lentils for black! French, green, or brown are all better alternatives!
Vegan Thanksgiving Menu
It can be really hard to work within everyone’s dietary needs during the holidays. My favorite way to tackle the puzzle is to find the what everyone can eat. That’s is why I love this vegan thanksgiving feast. It’s flavorful, full of wonderful fall vegetables, and happens to be gluten-free too. A perfect way to feed your guests a healthy and filling meal. The full meal includes:
Wine Pairing: 2013 Benziger North Coast Sauvignon Blanc: Bright citrus notes finish with soft apricot, complementing the earthy lentil pilaf and crisp roasted romanesco.
This lentil pilaf is an easy, flavorful side dish to any holiday meal and can work well with other brassicas if you cannot find romanesco.
- 1 head romanesco about 1pound
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 cup black lentils
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup medjool dates minced (roughly 4 to 5 pitted)
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Trim end and core from romanesco. Chop into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces. Transfer to baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper until well coated. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until slightly brown.
- In a small pot, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and let cook until fragrant. Add in cumin, coriander, and salt. Stir well and add in black lentils, continuing to stir until the lentils are well coated with spice. Pour in broth and water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Let cook until lentils are soft but retain their shape, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When romanesco is cooked and slightly cooled, transfer to a food processor. Pulse until romanesco pieces are about the same size as the lentils, about 3 to 4 pulses.
- In a large bowl, combine lentils, romanesco, dates, almonds, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly.
I’m hesitant to give too many variations because this lentil pilaf recipe, as made above, hits beyond expectation. It’s filling, has the right balance of flavor, and can work well outside of a holiday meal (think awesome work lunch). However, a few small changes you could make:
Dried Fruit: Golden raisins can easily be swapped for the dates. They’ll have the same sweetness but add a bit of flavor.
Nuts: Try this pilaf with cashew pieces instead of almonds.
Cauliflower: If you can’t find romanesco, roasted cauliflower would also be delicious. Any color would do!
Lentils are a must in my pantry. I keep red lentils on hand for quick soups, stews, and creamy meals while I have brown lentils on hand to make my favorite lentil bites. Black and French lentils tend to rotate but both hold up well in salads, tacos, enchiladas, and most places you might use chickpeas. A few of my favorite lentil recipes include: