Everything I Want to Eat Quinoa and Lentil Salad

October 20, 2015
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Sorry not sorry for this monster ingredient list! (One day, you'll thank me.) —Sarah Jampel

  • Serves 6 to 8
  • 1/4 cup tart dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small/reasonably-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small/reasonably-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Olive oil, for roasting and seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, for roasting and seasoning
  • one 8-ounce package tempeh, cut in half widthwise, then cut into very thin (1/8-inch) strips
  • 1 slice stale wheat bread, crumbled into small bits
  • 1 handful sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted pistachios
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, for seasoning (you'll want at least 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a small bowl, add the tart dried cherries, apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let the cherries plump up while you plow onwards.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth, 1 crushed garlic clove, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but not soft or mushy. Add water as needed to keep the lentils barely covered.
  3. In another small saucepan (I know, I'm pushing it here!), add the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is finished (you’ll see that the seed is translucent and the germ is a thin white circle around it).
  4. While the grainy and beany stuff cooks, it's time to roast the vegetables. Toss the squash and the sweet potatoes with the coriander, paprika, cayenne, the 2 remaining garlic cloves, minced, and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (you want the pieces to be well-coated but not swimming). Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two) and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping vegetables once or twice during baking, until crisp and browned in areas.
  5. Tempeh time! Cut the block in half widthwise, then cut it into very thin (1/8-inch) strips. Coat the bottom of a pan in a thin layer of olive oil and, when hot, fry the tempeh until brown and crispy on each side (you might have to work in batches). Drain it on a plate lined with paper towels.
  6. When the tempeh is done, fry the bread pieces in the leftover tempeh oil until crisp and crunchy.
  7. HALLELUJAH: You're ready to assemble. In a big bowl, mix together the roasted vegetables, quinoa, and lentils. Drain the cherries and add those, along with the fried tempeh, bread pieces, sesame seeds, scallions, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and cheese. Season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Gingerly place avocado cubes on top, and season with a bit more salt.
  8. Reward yourself for you hard work!!!!

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I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.