Posts Tagged ‘easy sides’

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I recently had the pleasure of cooking dinner, at a lovely home in Santa Cruz overlooking the ocean, with a friend whose husband and young son are primarily vegetarian. It reminded me that I tend to cook in a distinct pattern. That is, I usually prepare a meat-based entree served with a cooked vegetable side and a green salad. Healthy, yes, but a little boring in its repetition. The evening I cooked with the above mentioned friend, we served steak (the meat entree), along with four or five vegetable dishes, which combined for a great meal. Not that any of us have time to whip up six dishes for every dinner, but it got me thinking… I want to cook more vegetarian dishes not just cook more vegetables.

One of the dishes my friend made that evening is this lentil salad. She said the recipe comes from the genius Ottolenghi team, but I couldn’t find it in any of their books. My friend didn’t use precise measurements, but I’ve tried to capture fairly precise measurements based on my own taste. It’s definitely one of those dishes you can make, then taste, adjust, taste again, etc. However, I have included the measurements for the dish as I like it (since I’ve already made it three times in the past two weeks).

The combination of flavors and textures surprises and delights. I also love the different colors even though the main ingredient–French lentils, is an uninteresting greenish-brown. And while sun-dried tomatoes seem strong-flavored on their own, as does gorgonzola cheese, they blend perfectly together in a surprisingly mild, yet still very flavorful way.

I also think this dish works with just about anything. We served it with steak, but it would have been a great accompaniment to roasted chicken or grilled halibut or any vegetarian dish.



3 cups cooked French lentils*

1 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped, plus a little oil from the jar

1/2 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp fresh dill, thick stems removed and leaves chopped

2 tbsp fresh chives, snipped or cut in small lengths

2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Coarse-ground sea salt

Fresh-ground pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil

*If you happen to live near a Trader Joe’s store, they sell steamed lentils in the produce section. Cooking your own is always better, but in a hurry, the pre-cooked lentils make this dish a cinch to prepare!



Mix everything together in a large bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil, season to taste and stir to incorporate. Serve at room temperature.




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This dish is so simple to make, yet results in a wonderful combination of flavors and textures, all the while being super healthy. My favorite kind of dish!

I recently served this to a good friend of mine, and despite the fact it’s supposed to feed four people, we gobbled up every last morsel.

You might think the mustards would make the dish too strong or spicy for young palates, but my children didn’t notice any “spice,” and they are still super-sensitive to anything even remotely spicy. In fact, if you love good mustard flavor (like me!), I think you can use more than what’s called for in this recipe. This is definitely the kind of dish you can experiment with without risk of the whole thing going wrong.

This recipe is from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good.” I confess, I bought it ages ago, and promptly forgot about it. Then recently, when I was preparing dinner for friends, and the topic naturally turned to cooking, my friends told me how much they use and love the recipes in Gwyneth’s book.

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1 14-oz can of chickpeas*, rinsed, drained and dried on a kitchen towel

1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves and inner core removed, cut into bite-sized florets

Extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse-ground sea salt

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp seeded mustard

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Fresh-ground pepper

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

*Also sold as garbanzo beans

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Preheat oven to 400F.

Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with about 3 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt then roast, stirring once or twice, until everything is golden brown and the cauliflower is soft, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, a big pinch of salt and about 1/4 tsp pepper. When the chickpeas and cauliflower come out of the oven, toss them with the mustard dressing to evenly coat. Sprinkle with parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.



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