Smoky Lentils with Harissa Roast Cauliflower & Aubergine

A nourishing, comforting and absolutely delicious bowl of smoky lentils topped with harissa roast cauliflower and aubergine. Sure to be a family favourite.

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It seems a little strange to be writing this recipe for Smoky Lentils with Harissa Roast Cauliflower and Aubergine as I’m currently sitting in the last sweltering Summer heat of Spain, but as the mornings are getting a little cooler and the nights darker both here in the UK, which, somehow seems almost impossible after the long and unusually hot summer we experienced this year (I’m not complaining at all!) it almost seems therapeutic to write.

I’ve always loved the changing seasons.

There is something almost refreshing about it and, of course, naturally my food changes as the seasons do. Does anyone else do this?
Change their diet based on the time of year? As you know, I’m all about championing locally grown and organic produce where possible and that means eating with the seasons!

As Autumn rears its head, my food veers towards comforting one-pot wonder dishes and simple winter-warming plates of delicious bowls of goodness. It’s like the world is giving me permission to indulge in enormous pots of stews, dals, curries and soups and my heart (and belly) could not be happier.

This dish is one that always brings a smile to my face as it pops up in my catalogue of recipes each year. I first created these delicious smoky lentils with my friends and fellow bloggers and cookbook authors Sara aka Shiso Delicious and Bettina from Bettina’s Kitchen while we were on a little getaway in the Herefordshire countryside last year.

We cooked delicious dishes, traded food photography secrets and had the most fun sleeping in a proper yurt!! Honestly, so fun–and super cute. This dish was a completely impromptu meal made with the random ingredients we brought with us but sometimes the best meals are created that way–it just means you have to get a little more creative in the kitchen, and it paid off massively.

So much so that I just had to recreate it at home and share it with all of you, as I know you are going to love it as much as I do. I love to make this dish as soon as the leaves turn brown. I serve it with a fresh cabbage salad for extra texture and crunch and dollop with coconut yoghurt to balance out the spice from the harissa and add a creamy element.

The base takes a little while and a few ingredients to put together, but once it’s all simmering away nicely, it cooks itself so you can sit back and breathe in all those wonderfully rich and earthy flavours (and pour yourself a nice glass of vino!).

Lentils are actually one of my favourite ingredients as they are low in calories, rich in iron and an excellent source of protein, plus they can bulk out so many types of dishes making them the ultimate store cupboard essential to stock up on (you can find out more about what store cupboard ingredients I think should be in your kitchen at all time, and what recipes you can create with them, on this blog post here).

You can use split red lentils or whole red lentils for this dish–both are absolutely delicious. The whole red lentils give a coarser texture, and the split ones a creamier one, but both work perfectly. Why not try both and experiment to see what one you prefer? You can also use up any leftover veggies you have in your fridge.

Pop in some cauliflower, courgette, aubergine or peppers to really get the most out of this dish and help combat any food waste. If you can’t get hold of harissa paste, you can make your own, or use siracha or an alternative hot sauce.

Alternatively, if you don’t like spiced dishes, leave out and just season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. I absolutely love spicy food after travelling around the Middle East for many years, so I always slather harissa paste onto everything and anything I can!

If you like this recipe, why not give one of my other lentil recipes a try?
My Smoky Puy Lentils, Beetroot Hummus and Quinoa Flatbreads always go down a treat and utilise store cupboard ingredients.
Or why not try a Warm Winter Salad that uses up all your leftover roasted vegetables topped with puy lentils and toasted hazelnuts for the perfect winter warmer dish with a difference?
Or how about a brand-new recipe–Smoky Lentil and Walnut Bolognese with Crispy Roast Potatoes, the perfect combination of rich, comfort and delicious?

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Smoky Lentils with Harissa Roast Cauliflower & Aubergine

A nourishing, comforting and absolutely delicious bowl of smoky lentils topped with harissa roast cauliflower and aubergine. Sure to be a family favourite.
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
4 servings
4.88 from 16 votes


For the roast veg

  • 1/2 large aubergine sliced
  • 1 medium cauliflower cut into steaks/florets

For the harrisa dressing

  • 1.5 tbsp harissa paste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Juice 1 lemon

For the lentils

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 ancho chilli
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 cups/300g cherry tomatoes sliced
  • 2 cups/350g split or whole red lentils rinsed well
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 cups water–750ml
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Lots of black pepper
  • Pinch white pepper
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • 1 tbsp coconut yogurt or cream

For the cabbage salad

  • 1/2 white cabbage
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp sunflower seeds


  • Add the harrisa dressing ingredients to a large bowl and mix well.
  • Cut cauliflower up into florets, and aubergine into slices, then add them to the bowl with the dressing. Mix well.
  • Add to a large roasting pan. Roast on a medium heat 180c/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes, then turn. Continue to roast for a further 20 minutes until the veg is cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven.

To make the chilli paste

  • Chop up ancho chilli roughly, then add to a small pan with a little water.
  • Bring to a simmer and simmer for a few minutes. Set aside to cool.
  • Add the water and chilli to a mini chopper/blender or pestle and mortar and blitz or crush to a paste.

To make the lentils

  • Add your oil and onion to a wide bottom pan and fry gently on a low heat for around 10 minutes until soft and browning. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds more.
  • Add the tomatoes, lentils, tomato purée, ancho paste and water to the pan and cook in a low heat for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally–add more water if needed.
  • Add the salt, pepper, chilli flakes, tamari and coconut yogurt to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes
  • Top with the harissa cauliflower and aubergine.

To make the cabbage salad

  • Finely cut the cabbage and place in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, vinegar and salt.–mix well.
  • Add the sunflower seeds to a pan and dry toast on a medium heat until lightly toasted and nutty.
  • Mix the seeds into the cabbage.

To serve

  • Top the lentils with the roast veg and serve with the cabbage salad.
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More Recipes with Lentils, Harissa, Cauliflower or Aubergine

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69 Responses

  1. Love this one! Had to use beluga lentils cause I was out of red ones but still really good. Love the ancho pepper! Thanks!

  2. 4 stars
    This was delicious! And I am not a fan of cauliflower – but this was so good! We will add it to our favorites. I subbed fire roasted tomatoes and cut back on the oil. What an amazing meal. We loved the addition of the cabbage salad. Thank you.

  3. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. I added a few pieces of butternut squash and used puy lentils instead of red. So tasty I went back for seconds.

  4. 4 stars
    This is really delicious! It says it served 4 however we are big eaters in my house so it only went between 3. Will definitely make again!

  5. 5 stars
    This was delicious! It was such a great combination of flavour and texture. My everything eating husband was mightily impressed. A triumph.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for this it was really delicious. I didn’t have Harrisa or cherry tomatoes so made it with leftover marinade from and a tin of chopped tomatoes. I also misread the tamari as tamarind paste which gave it an interesting sweetness. I’ll definitely make it again and try some of your other recipes.

  7. 5 stars
    So tasty! Ended up using a combo of green + pardina lentils based on what I had on hand along with a variety of cherry tomatoes and smaller aubergine from my garden.

    Also took a chance swapped the black pepper for aleppo pepper since we like a bit more heat. No regrets

  8. 5 stars
    I made this, swapping soy sauce for the tamari, swapping a generous 1/2 tsp of chipotle powder for the ancho (added with other dried spices), and leaving out the coconut yogurt.

    So, so good! Thank you – just an excellent combination of flavors, and so healthy.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this tonight for dinner (and leftovers for lunch tomorrow!) and I added a can of coconut milk to the lentils. So yummy! Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. 5 stars
    I tried this tonight with green lentils since I didn’t have red and I roasted some carrots in addition to the aubergine and cauliflower – turned out to be delicious! Thank you for posting this recipe 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    Beautiful recipe! Thank you. I did put some extra vegetables with the lentils because we’re with big eaters (pointed sweet pepper and spinach). Lovely rich taste. It’s a keeper!

  12. This looks fantastic and perfect for me! Just wondering if the lentils are dried or pre-soaked from a can? I can never get my lentils to cook that quickly! Also how do you think the flavour will change if I use black lentils?

    1. Hi Katie
      So happy you like.
      If you use dried red split lentils they are very quick to cook and work well.
      The flavour will be more earthy with black (and longer to cook if dried) but I’m sure it would be delicious!
      My best
      Niki xx

      1. Any ideas on how to replace Harissa paste w/powdered Harissa I have on hand? Thanks much for tasty looking recipe & all the recommendations & comments.

  13. Just did my first one… Very nice taste.

    I replaced the ancho with Chipotle (didn’t have ancho) and it got that mild smokey flavor.

    Also, I would recommend pumping up the Harisa marinade so there is enough to cover the veggies. I ran slightly on the shorter side…..

    Prep time was indeed about 10-15 minutes (making the Harisa and cutting the eggplant and colliflower).

    the rest of the prep was done during cooking so I didn’t count it.

    Lentils required about 5-6 cups in total as I had to add during cooking. But maybe I was on higher heat….

    I will definitely make this recipe again several times

  14. “Add everything to a mini chopper/blender or pestle and mortar and blitz or crush to a paste.” What ingredients do you mean by everything?

  15. Confused. Is the chopped ancho chili added to the onions or cooked separately? Or when it says add everything to the mini blender does that mean add the chili AND the saúted onion and garlic. What does the ancho chili paste consist of?

        1. Hi Linda
          Sorry you can’t see it, it’s
          1.5 tbsp harrisa paste
          1 tbsp olive oil
          1 tsp garlic powder
          1/2 tsp sea salt
          Juice 1 lemon.
          Hope that helps.

          Niki xx

          1. Thanks Niki I see the dressing recipe I think I meant for the harissa paste. Is it just store bought?

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