Lentil, Date & Tomato Salad w/ Chilli Oil Tahini Dressing

One of the many nice things about unpacking all our stuff which was in storage while we were in New Zealand has been rediscovering our collection of old Australian Gourmet Traveller magazines. Working in libraries was a great opportunity to collect both old books and out of date magazines and I have had loads of fun unpacking our little collection.

Flicking through these magazines recently I filled a few pages with different recipe ideas and inspiration and this is the first of hopefully many successful and delicious adaptations.

The recipe is a quick and tasty makeover of a lamb and tomato salad, vegetarianized with lentils, dates and a tahini dressing. It’s super tasty and very simple to throw together. I used tinned lentils as a quick alternative but if you have the time use cooked lentils in this vegetarian recipe for added texture. The addition of dates was inspired by a discussion I had with our wonderful friend Shona last night while we mused over different vegetarian cook books and recipes. So thank you Shona for this delicious moment of foodie inspiration 🙂 the dates add the perfect meaty texture and a little sweetness to balance with the spices.

The spice mix I used was a * Greek seasoning; a combination of paprika, salt, garlic, thyme, oregano, pepper and cayenne pepper, use your favourite seasoning mix or combination of spices to create your own version. A great vegetarian recipe for a casual lunch or light dinner, the lentils and spices match perfectly with the crisp and cool tomato and cucumber and the creamy tahini dressing.

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Lentil, Date & Tomato Salad w/ Chilli Oil Tahini Dressing

Preparation time: 25mins// Serves 2-4

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 400g (14 oz) tinned or cooked brown lentils (approx 2 cups)
  • 1 celery stick, diced
  • 1-1½ tbs Greek seasoning { see note above* }
  • 5 fresh dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 lebanese cucumbers, chopped
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced

Chilli Oil Tahini Dressing

  • 2 pickled (or fresh) chillies, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs tahina
  • 1 tbs unsweetened non-dairy or dairy yoghurt

to serve

  • thinly sliced preserved lemon (optional)
  • fresh mint or thyme

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the lentils and diced celery and cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chopped dates, Greek seasoning or spices and a good pinch of salt flakes or ground sea salt, continue to cook for a few more minutes until lentils start to stick to the bottom of the pan and are a little crispy, set aside.

To make the dressing combine the minced chilli and garlic with the olive oil, whisk the chilli oil mixture with the tahina and yoghurt until smooth and creamy.

Arrange the tomato wedges, cucumber and red onion on a large platter, spoon over the lentil mixture and top with dollops of the tahina dressing.

Garnish with slivers of preserved lemon and a few fresh mint or thyme leaves.

A quick and simple vegetarian recipe that looks fresh and delicious and is perfect for a nice lunch or light evening meal served with crunchy bread.

This recipe would also make a lovely side dish to accompany a main meal.

{ Adapted from the Lamb, Za’atar & Tomato Salad w/ Harissa Yoghurt Dressing recipe found in the February 2005 edition of Australian Gourmet Traveller }

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