One of my goals for the new year is to share more family recipes, starting with this Classic Moroccan Lentil Salad made with O-Live & Co. Organic olive oil.
This authentic Moroccan lentil salad recipe is rich and full of flavor, plus it's naturally vegan and gluten free. Made with tomatoes, typical Moroccan spices, and delicious, high-quality organic olive oil, it's the perfect dinner or side dish.
This post was sponsored by O-Live & Co. All thoughts and opinions are originally my own.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a big lentil person.
It really takes the right kind of sauce for me to truly enjoy this legume. That’s why I’m so excited to finally share this vegan Moroccan dish; it’s one of the only ways I enjoy lentils!
There’s just something about the way the rich tomato based sauce, high quality olive oil, Moroccan spices and perfectly cooked lentils work together that makes this dish totally addicting.
In Morocco, my aunt serves this salad amongst several other bowls of various vegetable salads, all surrounding the main entre (usually a tajine of some sort) and piles of fresh Moroccan bread.
In my own kitchen here in Portland, Oregon, I usually enjoy this dish with torn pieces of baguette and some fresh herbs.
It can stand alone or accompany other Authentic Moroccan recipes beautifully.
Here's what you'll need to make this Classic Moroccan lentil salad:
- Olive Oil
- Garlic, minced
- Yellow onion, grated
- Smoked paprika
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
- Roma tomatoes, grated
- Lentils, rinsed
- Tomato paste
See recipe card for exact measurements.
Making lentils (or any kind of dried legume) can feel intimidating at first. I promise you this naturally gluten free and vegan Moroccan lentil salad is as easy to make as it gets.
Start with a medium sized saucepan and heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add in your minced garlic and sautee just until fragrant.
At this point you can add in the grated onion and spices. Simmer these together fro about 5 minutes before tossing in the tomatoes, lentils and water. Bring everything to a gentle simmer before covering with a lid.
Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until you can bite through the lentils without any grittiness (taste testing is important here just like it would be with cooking pasta). If the lentils feel undercooked, add ½ cup of water and continue to cook until cooked through.
Once the lentils are fully cooked, add tomato paste and stir until evenly incorporated. Taste to see if the lentils need any additional salt or paprika and serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, paprika and flaky salt.
What are ‘Moroccan spices’?
Growing up, most of the spices in our family kitchen were considered ‘Moroccan spices’.
It was only when I learned to cook and started venturing into other cuisines that I realized there are spices that are typical in Moroccan cooking and there are others that are rarely ever used.
The most common Moroccan spices used in my family are cumin, paprika, saffron, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon.
In different villages and cities across Morocco, families have various spice combinations we call Ras El Hanout. This blend will vary in which spices are used depending on the region of the country you try it in.
The best way to get comfortable cooking with Moroccan spices is to dive in and start using them!
Practice is important in getting comfortable and understanding your preferred level of spice.
Olive oil in Moroccan cuisine
Olive oil is a staple in Moroccan cuisine. Almost every savory dish I’ve ever had there starts with olive oil. And Moroccans know their olive oil.
Every morning, my father would enjoy a glass of mint tea with a slice of toasted bread and some of his favorite olive oil. The quality of Moroccan oil is that good, you could eat it essentially straight!
That’s why I was so excited to partner with O-Live & Co. to create this dish using their Organic Olive Oil. The quality is a perfect match for this traditional Moroccan lentil salad.
Let’s talk lentils
Lentils are an awesome legume to use in your kitchen for many reasons.
For starters, they are low in calories, high in fiber, high in folate and pack a good punch of protein. They’re vegan, easy and fast to cook, require no soaking (like other legumes) and have been found to reduce the risk of heart disease. You can read more about the benefits of lentils at HealthLine.
When it comes to picking the type of lentils you want to use for these Moroccan lentils, it’s really up to you. Some varieties of lentils are known to hold up their shape better than others, so that’s something to consider. You can learn all about the different types of lentils over at Fix.
Today, we’ll be using green lentils as that’s the traditional variety my family in Morocco uses.
Grating your onion
This was my first time grating an onion and it’s worth noting that there will be quite a bit of liquid that comes as a result.
Pour the liquid right into the pan with the rest of the grated onion and watch the flavor develop!
Dietary preferences and Moroccan cuisine
I’ve mentioned this before but one of my favorite aspects of Moroccan cooking is how simple the ingredients are.
It takes a few familiar spices, veggies and meat and creates something seriously spectacular with very few (if any) processed ingredients. This Moroccan lentil salad is no different.
With ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, onions and lentils, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. And this dish gets bonus points as not only is it free of the top 8 most common allergens, it’s also vegan and vegetarian. Making it a dish that is super friendly for those with dietary preferences and so delicious everyone can enjoy.
More authentic Moroccan recipes
If you’re looking to make a full spread, start with my Moroccan recipe index.
These are some of my favorite authentic Moroccan recipes for you to make to accompany your Moroccan lentils:
- Grilled Lamb Chops (pictured above)
- Moroccan Tomato Salad
- Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives
- Citrus Salad with Pistachios
- Moroccan Shakshuka with Meatballs
- Homemade Preserved Lemons
- Mediterranean Meatballs