Lentil and Quinoa Pilaf with Cauliflower and Marcona Almonds

This recipe, which appeared in Food and Wine (March 2012) as a vegan recipe, is also nice with a sprinkling of feta cheese. My adaptation includes a couple kinds of lentils. Thanks to the quinoa, lentils and almonds, it has plenty of protein and stands alone beautifully as a vegetarian main dish. I served it alongside a simple roast chicken on a Sunday night and was thrilled to have enough leftover pilaf for lunches the next day (not to mention a chicken carcass with which to make stock overnight!).

  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 onion, trimmed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 1/2 medium fennel bulb, minced
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound cauliflower, coarsely grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup chopped salted Marcona almonds

  • In a medium saucepan, add the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, garlic and onion. Cover with cold water, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, then simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain lentils and discard the bay leaf, thyme, garlic and onion. Set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot, celery, carrot and fennel and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the stock, salt and pepper, then bring a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cover and allow to cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let stand off heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the grated cauliflower that cook until browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Toss the cauliflower with the lentils, quinoa mixture, parsley and almonds. Serve.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. The F&W recipe called for coconut oil where I’ve used olive oil. It would certainly impart a tropical flavor, but I was too lazy to run out and buy coconut oil just for this recipe. I also wasn’t sure when else I’d use it, so I didn’t bother.
  • 2. I used a box grater to grate the cauliflower. Be sure to leave yourself a relatively long stalk to hold so you don’t grate your fingertips. This method created a nice mix of fine shreds and medium rough chunks. You can use a knife to finely chop the rest, if you’d like.
  • 3. This pilaf is also nice room temperature, which makes it ideal for lunches.
  • 4. Marcona almonds originate from Spain, I believe. They are shorter and a little rounder than typical almonds. They have no skin and they’ve been lightly coated with olive oil and sea salt. They are addictive and wonderful. When the small tub of them is out on the counter, both kids beg for a sampling of them and I can’t keep my fingers out of the tub either. They are simply wonderful.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 50 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6

7 responses to “Lentil and Quinoa Pilaf with Cauliflower and Marcona Almonds”

  1. Kate Townsend says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. Awesome recipe! LOVED it so much! Had a ton of flavor & amazing textures! D-lish! I used my mandolin to cut up the cauliflower, so it was larger than all the other “minced” veggies. Forgot how much I love cauliflower!

    • Alicia says:

      Glad you loved! I was very happy to find this in my lunchbox the day after making it. I think it gets even better as the flavors have some time to sit. I also think the cauliflower takes on a whole new identity when grated. It’s one of those veggies that’s easy to forget about, sadly.

  2. Nikki S. says:

    I would say this tasted pretty good, but was probably not worth all the effort overall. This took me an hour and 40 minutes alone to prepare — and that doesn’t include the roasted chicken that I served with it. Perhaps my view would have been different if my lentils hadn’t turned out soggy. I didn’t initially use enough water to cover the lentils, and so I later tried to add water, which just made them mushy.

    • Alicia says:

      Uh oh! I’m sorry. I do think lentils that have a bit of tooth to them make a difference. I make mine just a little undercooked so they hold their shape. They tend to finish softening as they cool.

  3. Charlotte says:

    I made this last night. It was time consuming but I thought it was worth it. When else do you use an entire head of cauliflower? Healthy and very flavorful. I actually didn’t have the almonds so I substituted toasted pine nuts and that was delish. I’m going to pick up feta to turn the leftovers into lunchtime salads, as you suggested.

  4. Karen says:

    Very good. I kind of felt something was missing so I added some lemon juice and fixed it. I think dried cranberries, dried cherries, or dried apricots would also work.

  5. Jessica says:

    Stomach is growling after reading this…must try it!
    Thanks for the great content, as always, Alicia!

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