Having spent a lot of time roasting various types of vegetables for salads using different oven temperatures and combinations of spices, I have come to one very easy and convenient conclusion:
Practically all vegetables can be very successfully roasted at 200C/400F tossed in nothing more than extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.
If I want to add certain flavours to my salad, I have better luck putting them into the salad dressing rather than trying to incorporate them with the roasted vegetables. Firstly, the spices sometimes burn during roasting (especially if you want to get a real chargrilled finish on your veggies). Secondly, it can be hard to control the flavour as you can’t really taste the vegetables until after they are cooked at which point you might belatedly realise that your spice proportions are all wrong. And lastly, by roasting my veggies with olive oil and salt I am able to use them in a wider variety of recipes. For example, half my portion of roasted cauliflower can be used in a Pakistani-inspired salad (like this one) while the other half can be used in something entirely different such as a Chinese-inspired salad.
My recipe for ‘Roast Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Salad with Pakistani Yogurt Dressing’ is a hearty salad which makes a delicious meal on its own or works well as a side dish. The dressing should be served on the side for people to add according to their preference.
ROAST CAULIFLOWER and PUY LENTIL SALAD with PAKISTANI YOGURT DRESSING
(Serves 3-4 as a main course/Serves 6 as a side dish)
1 & 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt
2-3 Tbsp water (to thin out the yogurt’s consistency, if desired)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (on a fine grater) or crushed
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1/8 tsp red chilli powder (or according to taste) (optional)
1 kg cauliflower, separated into florets
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into eighths
5 Tbsp coriander leaves, washed and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried Puy lentils (2 cups cooked Puy lentils) [Note: If you don’t have Puy lentils, chickpeas would be a good substitute]
1 bay leaf
Extra virgin olive oil (for coating the cauliflower before roasting)
Coarse sea salt (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Cut your cauliflower into florets and toss them in a bowl with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly coat the florets) and about 1 & 1/2 Tbsp of coarse sea salt (to taste). Place the cauliflower in a single layer on a large baking tray and place it on the middle rack. Roast for 15 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, peel 2 medium red onions and cut them into eighths. Toss lightly in extra virgin olive oil. After the cauliflower has roasted for 15 minutes, toss the cauliflower florets so that they roast evenly. Scatter the onion pieces amongst the cauliflower and roast for another 10-15 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- To prepare your Puy lentils, rinse and drain 1 cup of Puy lentils and place them in a saucepan (with a lid). Cover with about 3 inches of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add 1 bay leaf and 1 tsp of sea salt. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. The Puy lentils should still have some bite to them. Drain and spread on a plate to allow to cool.
- Make the spicy yogurt dressing by measuring out 1 & 1/2 cups of Greek yogurt. Add the minced garlic, sea salt and cumin powder and stir until evenly combined. Taste and add chilli powder (optional). Add a few tablespoons of water into the yogurt if you want a thinner consistency. Refrigerate.
- Wash and dry about 5 Tbsp of coriander leave and roughly chop.
- In a large serving bowl or platter, toss the Puy lentils, cauliflower and onions. Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on top and lightly toss once more.
- Serve with the salad with the yogurt dressing on the side.
- Can be refrigerated for upto 3 days. If serving from the refrigerator, allow the salad to come to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for about 15 minutes.