The best buddha bowls with cauliflower and tahini sauce! These are so delicious for a make ahead lunch, and the pickled onions and tahini sauce can be made in advance for a quick throw-together meal. These bowls are vegetarian, gluten free, and can be served hot, cold, or at room temperature.
When it comes to "healthy" food, I'm careful to not use words like "cheat, guilt, good, bad," and so on. I think that thought pattern surrounding food can be so damaging, but also I agree that in terms of physical health there are foods that are better for our bodies than others, if we're talking lentils vs cheetos.
I love lentils for the cheap + toothsome + nutrition-packed punch they pack in a bowl like this. They are SO flavorful (because salt) and honestly I could eat a bowl of them on their own.
We made this into a fun bowl with bright pink pickled onions, a shortcut gremolata, and toasty roasty cauliflower, one of my favorite substitutes for meat because when roasted it has just the best texture.
The idea for this came from an Instagram account Jay follows but he couldn't show me a recipe or the actual account or image (?), so he described a picture to me and this is what I came up with. So, if you made some amazing cauliflower bowls and this feels like a copycat, tell me! And I'll credit you if it was your original image.
Buddha Bowls Step-By-Step
To make these, I like to work on the lentils first, then roast the cauliflower and tomatoes while the lentils simmer.
While the lentils and cauliflower cook, I make any toppings I'm using. Pickled red onions, tahini sauce, and the gremolata in this case, but fresh herbs, lemon wedges, other cheeses, olives, or anything else you can imagine would be wonderful.
Lentils with Onions
For the lentils, dice some onion and mince some garlic.
Saute the onion and garlic in a small pan with a lid with some olive oil over medium heat for about three minutes, then add the lentils and veggie stock to the pot. Cover the lid and simmer the lentils for 30-40 minutes (or whatever the package says) just until they're tender but not mushy.
Check them at the lowest time your package suggests. If there is some liquid left in the pot, let the lentils finish simmering uncovered to evaporate a bit of the stock. Add a few pinches of salt each time you check the lentils until they are very flavorful.
Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
Meanwhile, roast the cauliflower and tomatoes. I do this on two separate pans when I make a lot, but the cook temperature and time are the same! 425F for 25 minutes. I drizzle the cauliflower and tomatoes with oil and sprinkle them with salt, then sprinkle zaatar all over the cauliflower.
When they're roasty and tender, they're done!
Now, while the lentils and veggies are working, make anything you'd like to put on top of the bowls.
I went all out with toppings, but you can grab just a few things to prep or chop and the bowls will be just as delicious. I love pickled red onions: microwave some water, vinegar, salt, and sugar together, then drop some sliced red onion in the mixture. Let it sit for 15 minutes or so. These keep wonderfully in the fridge.
The tahini sauce is made with plain tahini, water, salt, sugar, and minced garlic. EASY. Whisk it together, adjust the flavors, and add more water if you need to thin it out at all. I sometimes make tahini sauce with lemon juice, so if you like more tang on top of your bowls definitely go that route. (here's my favorite recipe for lemon tahini sauce)
I wanted something green on the bowls, and gremolata is usually finely chopped herbs, garlic, citrus zest, salt, and sometimes some nuts. Here I just used pesto, lemon zest, and extra garlic and the result was SO good. This could definitely be skipped or subbed with fresh herbs or sliced green onions.
Lentil Bowl Assembly
So now! The lentils are tender but not mushy. Add MORE salt if you aren't sure. These should be good enough that you'd eat them on their own.
Then we have everything else for our bowls. Roasted cauliflower and tomatoes, pickled red onions, pesto gremolata, crumbled feta cheese, and tahini sauce.
I mean. I did this entire meal in under an hour, but you could DEFINITELY make the components to this in advance for a meal prep buddha bowl situation. Taking care of future you, look at you go!
Build bowls however you like, go excessive on the toppings, and lunch or dinner is READY.
I love these for a thousand reasons, but a big one here is that the components are great as leftovers or make-ahead. If there was one thing that wasn't perfect I'd say it was the cauliflower, but you could make EVERYTHING except for the cauliflower and tomatoes on the weekend, then roast veggies and have this great dinner on a weeknight. The deep flavors of zaatar are so good with the tahini and tangy tomatoes.
PS zaatar is a middle eastern spice blend that we use all the time on roasted veggies and chicken, but if you don't have any just...skip it. Seriously, there is plenty of flavor without going out of your way for something you don't use a ton. OR OR OR buy some and use it all the time. Your call.
The recipe below looks a little high maintenance, but trust me when I say that all of the components are super easy and the bowls are delicious with just one or two toppings. I wanted you to have options, though, so you can dress these lentil bowls up or down depending on how life is going right now.
Make these soon! Maybe for lunch or dinner on Sunday then for lunches all week.
Wonderfully flavorful lentils topped with roasted veggies and bright toppings. Full of health without being obvious about it.
- ¼ medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup green lentils ((or any kind you like, obviously))
- 2 ½ cup vegetable stock ((more or less depending on the package directions))
Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon zaatar spice blend
- olive oil and salt
Pickled Red Onions
- ½ medium red onion, sliced
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ cup plain tahini
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon prepared pesto
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 lemon zested (about 2 teaspoons zest, don't obsess about it)
- feta cheese for the bowls
- Cook the lentils. In a small sauce pan with a lid, saute the onion and garlic over medium heat for a few minutes until soft. Add the lentils and stock and cover the pot. Simmer the lentils for 30-40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Each time you check the lentils, add a few pinches of salt until the lentils are very flavorful - you should want to eat them plain!
- Meanwhile, roast the veggies. Preheat the oven to 425F and arrange the cauliflower and tomatoes on baking sheets, either two smaller sheets or one large baking sheet with the tomatoes on one side and cauliflower on another. Drizzle all of the veggies with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Sprinkle the zaatar seasoning all over the cauliflower. Roast the veggies for 25 minutes until the cauliflower is brown and tender.
- Make the pickled onions. Combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for two minutes until hot and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the sliced onions to the hot vinegar mixture and let sit for at least 15 minutes. These can be made ahead and keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
- Make the tahini sauce. Combine all ingredients with a fork or small whisk, whisking until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Add a squirt of lemon juice here if you like extra tang.
- Make the gremolata. Use a fork to gently combine the pesto, salt, garlic, and lemon zest until slightly crumbly.
- Assemble the bowls with a bed of lentils, some of the roasted veggies, and any of the toppings you'd like. Drizzle with the tahini sauce and DIG IN. Enjoy!
Toppings: What really makes these bowls is the lentils, cauliflower, and tahini sauce. ANYTHING else can be skipped or swapped out based on what you have or love. Swap the tomatoes for sundried tomatoes, the pickled onions for olives or capers, the gremolata for a scoop of pesto or some fresh herbs, you name it.
Make-Ahead: I LOVE this for a meal prep lunch. I make all the components in advance and assemble when I'm ready to eat, or in advance if I'm taking lunch with me. If you'd like a halfway-prepped option, make everything but the roasted veggies in advance, and roast the veggies right before eating for a hot and fresh hybrid dinner.
Lentils: use the package directions for quantity of stock and time to simmer, and use chicken or another kind of stock if you prefer! I make veggie stock from the Better than Bouillon and it is SO good and maybe full of chemicals, don't tell me.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Category: Main Dish
Keywords: lentil bowls, lentil quinoa bowl, lentil bowl recipes, quinoa power bowl buddha bowl, buddha bowl sauce, buddha bowl dressing