Wheatless Wednesday- Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes


Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Red Lentil Soup with Quinoa  Cauliflower Cakes

I have an ongoing love affair with lentils which come in various colors and sizes.  I’m not picky.  My favorites are the French Green and the Black Beluga, both which hold their shape and don’t turn to mush unless you overcook them. I use them often for salads or side dishes.   I have opted to use Red Lentils which are traditional for this dish. Red lentils are softer and do get mushy which works well with soup.  The original recipe calls a lot of coconut milk.  I don’t want the extra calories so substituted vegetable broth for two-thirds of the liquid.

Dhal is usually served with rice but since its Wheatless Wednesday, I have decided to get more creative and have paired the soup with Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes.  Since the quinoa cake recipe calls for only half the cauliflower, I thought it would be interesting to add the rest of the cauliflower to the soup, so we get cauliflower (one of my other current loves) two ways.

I got the idea for the Dhal and the Quinoa & Cauliflower Cakes from the ‘Vegetarian Everyday’ cookbook, which is also where I got the cauliflower pizza crust so I had high hopes. I did a test run of the cakes recipe over the weekend while my college boys were still home.  They were quite a hit, very tasty and a great use for leftover quinoa (although other grains would probably work too). This is not a carb free recipe, although they are all good carbs.  The oats are high in fiber and rich in antioxidants, and the quinoa is high in protein, magnesium, iron and calcium and its gluten free. Gluten free oats are available as a gluten free alternative. The quinoa needs to be rinsed before cooking to wash off the saponin powder which is a naturally occurring protectant to make the seeds unpalatable to birds.  Rinse until the water is clear and use a fine mesh colander as the seeds are pretty small and you will lose them down the drain.

The recipe also calls for ramps, which are a type of wild garlic usually only available in spring or summer.  I remember buying ramps at a farmer’s market in Maine last summer but didn’t really know what to do with them.  I think I added them to sautéed vegetables.  They are fresh and mild, not sharp like regular garlic.  I was unable to find ramps here in December so substituted spinach and garlic. My taste testers all agreed that the cakes would be even better with a sauce, so I paired the leftovers with a homemade Tzatziki sauce and brought them to a Niners game the next day where every last crumb was devoured.  They were just as good the next day, warmed up in the oven.  The yield is large so feel free to cut the recipe in half.

Dhal Red Lentil Soup

½ Tbsn coriander seeds or ground coriander

½ tsp mustard seeds or ground mustard

½ tsp cardamom seeds or ground cardamom

2 teaspoons curry powder

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp  ground ginger

¼ tsp chili powder

6 dried apricots, chopped

1-2 cups vegetable stock

1 can coconut milk

1 cup dry red lentils, rinsed

3 Tablespoons olive or coconut oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper, to taste


2 carrots, sliced

½ -1 head cauliflower, cut into florets

Handful of fresh spinach


  • If you are using whole seeds, crush them into a powder with a mortar and pestle.  Combine the spices and the apricot into a small bowl.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice mix and saute, stir continuously, until its fragrant.  Add the onion and garlic and saute until onion is translucent.
  • Add the cauliflower and carrots and stir to coat. Then add the lentils and broth.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want it a bit spicier add red curry paste and/or red pepper flakes to taste.  Just before serving add spinach and stir to combine.

Dhal Lentil Sou[p


Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

  • Servings: 8-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes with Tzatziki Sauce

(Makes 12 large or 24 small cakes)

1 cup quinoa

1 2/3 cups cauliflower florets

1 large handful wild garlic or ramps (or 1 cup fresh spinach cut into ribbons and 2 cloves garlic, minced)

4 large eggs

1 1.3 cups crumbled feta cheese

¾ cup rolled oats

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp coconut, avocado or olive oil for frying


  • Combine 2 ¼ cups water, the quinoa and a pinch of salt in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and gently simmer for about 15 minutes or until you see small tails (the germ) on the quinoa seeds.  Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
  • Place cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it is a rice-like texture.  Transfer to a bowl and add the quinoa, beaten eggs, ramps (or spinach and garlic), feta, oats and salt and pepper.  Stir until well combined.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Form the mixture into 12 patties with your hands.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan on medium high heat.  Add 4 patties at a time and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip carefully and brown the other side a few more minutes.  Continue until all patties are cooked. Drain on paper towels.

Spinach ribbons
TIp:  An easy way to cut spinach is to stack the leaves and slice widthwise into thin ribbons.

Tzatziki Sauce

1 16oz container plain non-fat yogurt

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced

1 Tbsn olive oil

1 Tbsn lemon juice

1-2 tsp fresh dill

2 cloves garlic

  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. If it’s watery or too sour for your taste, add a bit of mayonnaise which will thicken it up and offset the sour.Tzatziki can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator several days.