Warm and Sweet Lentil Skillet with Roasted Cauliflower

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Two bowls of cooked lentils

My dad’s an agronomist; a retired one, in fact. He spent 37 years in the world of seed certification, walking wheat fields and identifying all manner of plants used for food, mostly here in Washington state. Despite his lighthearted threats over the years to set up his easel and give me and my sister legume lectures as a punishment, I credit him with instilling in me a love of all things lentil. (Was it reverse psychology at work?)

Lentils aren’t showy on their own but can be a nice base for adding other flavors. Depending on how long you leave them bubbling away in the pot, the textural result can be:

– smooth

–  thick

– creamy

– al dente

And whichever beautiful variety you choose, be it Red Chief, Crimson, U.S. Regular, French Green, or Beluga, lentils are a cheap, fiber-filled, high-protein dynamo of a food.

Skillet full of cooked lentils and cauliflower

Because of their health benefits, the American Heart Association actually recommends including beans, nuts and seeds at least 4 times a week for everyone, not just the plant-minded among us. Unlike most dry beans, you don’t have to soak lentils ahead of time and they cook fairly quickly. For these reasons and because they make me think of my leguminous-plant-loving dad, they’re a staple in my pantry and in my skillet.

Top down view of a skillet of lentils and two servings in bowls

So if you haven’t cooked much with lentils, consider giving this recipe a try. It’s warm, it’s sweet, it’s tasty, and it’s healthy. Lentils just may be the perfect food, and my father just may have known this all along.

What’s your favorite way to cook with these little nuggets of nutrition?



Warm and Sweet Lentil Skillet with Roasted Cauliflower

Two bowls of cooked lentils

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Definitely a comfort food, but packed with veggies and protein.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main dish


  • 1/2 large head or 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 2-inch long cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes or 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, pureed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, turning once until the pieces have some nice browned spots.
  2. While cauliflower is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cinnamon stick and cook for 3 minutes or until onion is softened and translucent.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add turmeric, garam masala, chili powder, cumin and salt. Cook for 1 minute to warm the spices.
  4. Add lentils and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add water and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is gone and lentils are tender. Remove cinnamon stick.
  6. While the lentils cook, heat remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a small second skillet over medium low heat. Add mustard seeds and cover. Cook, occasionally shaking the skillet as they pop.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and carefully add garlic and cook just a minute or two. Carefully stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. (The tomatoes can splatter and the garlic can burn if the oil is too hot.)
  8. Add tomato mixture to lentils along with currants, coconut, and roasted cauliflower. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until heated through.


Inspired by dal recipes from the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council’s The Pea and Lentil Cookbook, From Everyday to Gourmet.

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices you can typically find alongside garlic salt and powdered ginger at the grocery store.

The original recipe calls for sweetened coconut, and the added sugar does bump up the flavor of the dish. But I’ve sort of taken to using Bob’s Red Mill unsweetened coconut flakes these days, with the option of toasting them first if I have time. Either works fine depending on what ingredients you have on hand and how concerned you are about sugar content.


  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 362
  • Sugar: 18 g
  • Sodium: 880 mg
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Saturated Fat: 6 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 48 g
  • Fiber: 16 g
  • Protein: 14 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

Keywords: lentils, dal, cauliflower, garam masala, cinnamon stick, currants

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9 thoughts on “Warm and Sweet Lentil Skillet with Roasted Cauliflower”

    1. Hi Maryanne! Would love to hear how it turns out in your kitchen. Let me know if you have any suggestions for improvement or how to make the instructions better. Happy New Year!

    1. I think a bottle of it might run you $5 or $6. But, I usually get mine in bulk since I don’t use it very often. That way I can buy just a few teaspoons at a time. Let me know if you try it – I’d love your expert feedback.

  1. Pingback: Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette - Veg Girl RD

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