Roasted Cauliflower, Paneer and Lentil Salad
The Indian cheese paneer doesn’t typically show up in salads, but this one from food writer Nik Sharma’s cookbook, “Season,” involves cutting paneer into cubes and roasting it alongside cauliflower for about 25 minutes (though doing so for longer wouldn’t hurt). Paneer maintains its structure in heat, so its skin will come out of the oven charred, its insides still soft. You’ll stir the paneer and cauliflower with green and black lentils, cooked and drained, and scallions, resulting in a pleasing jumble of textures. Drizzle it with a cilantro-lime dressing, which gives the salad a tart kick.
- Serves: 4 persons
- ½cup green lentils
- ½cup black lentils
- 1small head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
- 11-ounce block paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups total)
- 1teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½teaspoon black pepper
- 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 1cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1cup tightly packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1Serrano chile, seeded, if desired
- Juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
- 1teaspoon coriander seeds
- ½teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- ½teaspoon fine sea salt
Step 1Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and pick out any stones or imperfect beans. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 25 to 60 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how old the lentils are, so check them every 5 minutes after the first half hour. When they've reached desired doneness, drain through a fine-mesh strainer and set on a clean kitchen towel to absorb any remaining liquid.
Step 2While the lentils are cooking, roast the cauliflower and paneer: Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and transfer to a roasting or sheet pan. Add the paneer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil, mixing to coat evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the florets and paneer are crispy on the outside and feel tender when pierced with a skewer or knife, 20 to 25 minutes.
Step 3Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse at medium-high speed until smooth and paste-like.
Step 4When the cauliflower and paneer are done, transfer to a large bowl and gently stir in the drained lentils and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Drizzle with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of the dressing, to taste, and serve warm or at room temperature. (Store the leftover salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Shake the dressing before using.)