Moroccan food is a little bit of everything good. It is a mix of Mediterranean, Indian, North African, and Arabic. It has a little “je ne said quoi”. It is well balanced and heavily spiced. Not hot spice, but deeply flavorful and aromatic. Every Moroccan dish I have eaten has been perfectly balanced in terms of sweet, savory, salt, acid, and spice.
This lentil salad hits all those flavor notes. There are a handful of spices that get added at different stages of cooking, creating layers and layers of flavor. Dates add sweetness and welcomed chewy texture. The lentils are hearty and earthy, giving the salad a satisfying substance and lots of protein. The whole thing gets topped with a creamy and rich tahini dressing, a scattering of crunchy roasted almonds, and fresh herbs. Each and every element of this dish is designed to bring a new flavor and texture, making for one delicious end result.
I like to make a big batch of this recipe and then pack any leftovers for lunch the next day. This is one of those dishes that gets better with flavor, so if you are taking it to a party or serving it to guests, you can make it ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Here are some tricks for making the perfect Moroccan Lentil Salad:
Trick #1: Shortcut the process.
Sprouted lentils are my trick to quick dinners. They cook in 5 minutes flat. They are a time savers dream come true. Sprouted lentils have been soaked, sprouted, and then dehydrated. Not only does this mean a shorter amount of time before dinner is on the table, it also means more nutrition. Sprouted lentils contain more vitamin C, iron, copper, and folate than un-sproted varieties. They are easier to digest, and therefore can cut down on your need to take a Bean-O with dinner. Sprouted lentils are available in most stores and online.
Trick #2: Crank up that oven.
The trick to flavorful roasted carrots? High heat. Sure, we add in a variety of spices for flavor, but nothing, and I repeat nothing, can beat proper cooking technique. Roasting at a high temperature caramelizes the carrots and brings out their natural sweetness without overcooking them. Crank up the oven for this one.
Trick #3: Keep on the straight and narrow.
As mentioned, this salad has lots of flavors going on. When all the ingredients are added in their correct amounts, they are perfectly balanced. For that reason, I recommend sticking to the recipe for this one. There are plenty of times to go rogue in the kitchen and ditch the measuring spoons, this just isn’t one of them. For best results use each ingredient as listed in the correct quantities.
Ingredients for Moroccan Lentil Salad Recipe:
For the roasted carrots:
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil OR olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (black could work too)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 2 cups sprouted lentils (or 1 1/2 cup brown lentils)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 scallions, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1/3 cup chopped dates
- 1/3 cup chopped almonds
For the dressing:
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
Directions to cook a delicious Moroccan Lentil Salad:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the carrots with the coconut oil and spices. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
- While the carrots are roasting, add the cumin seeds to a dry skillet. Over medium heat, toast the seeds until they are fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and tahini. The tahini will absorb the lemon juice and thicken up. Use water to thin the mixture to dressing consistency. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and the toasted cumin seeds. Set aside.
- Add the lentils, salt, and bay leaves to a pan. Cover with water and simmer until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
- Drain the excess water and remove the bay leaves. Add in the roasted carrots and remaining ingredients. Drizzle with the tahini dressing.