Warm Roasted Red Cabbage Salad with Crispy Lentils

Craving veggies on a chilly day? This warm roasted red cabbage salad with crispy lentils is just the thing! A warm and satisfying salad packed with plenty of cool weather veggies like red cabbage, onion and fennel plus a creamy balsamic dressing and tons of flavour.

roasted red cabbage salad in pink bowl with fork
Craving a warm, filling and flavourful salad? This roasted red cabbage salad with crispy lentils will have you thinking differently about what a salad can be!

One of my kitchen rules is when in doubt, roast it. Roasting vegetables coaxes out new flavors from our favourite veg; softening earthy or bitter notes and adding a touch of caramelization and sweetness. It’s a trick I use over and over again in my cookbooks, like my newest (!!) Plant Magic.

And if I’m not sure what to make for dinner, I will grab whatever is in the produce drawer and roast it. Sometimes, I eat said roasted veggies as a side dish, like my yummy roasted Brussels sprouts. Sometimes, it’s part of a salad, like my winter panzanella or it’s the whole dinner like my roasted spaghetti squash with pesto.

But every once in a while, someone has an idea that makes you think, how have I never thought of that? And for me, it was the lovely Justine Doiron and her genius baked salads.

Like, roasted veggies…but an actual salad. So, two of my absolutely favourite things and holy heck a salad that is warm so you can enjoy it even on the chilliest of days?!? 

This is a plant-based recipe that has my dietitian heart jumping for joy at the prospect of people devouring warm salads in a season where sometimes veggie intake falls to the wayside.  In less than 45 minutes, you’ll have a warm and nourishing meal you’ll want to eat again and again. And the FLAVORS!!! 

Red cabbage doesn’t get nearly enough love, in my opinion. It’s affordable, filling and lasts FOR AGEs in the fridge. And you might be surprised to learn that it’s also totally packed with nutrition. Like all cruciferous veggies, red cabbage is loaded with special sulfur-based phytochemicals called glucosinolates that are thought to be particularly anti-inflammatory and part of a disease-prevention focused way of eating.

This warm roasted red cabbage salad is a meal sized vegan salad bursting with different flavours and textures: when you shred the red cabbage and red onion very thinly, they turn into silky, almost al dente noodle-like strands in the oven. On another pan, the oven crisps up the lentils so they’re crunchy. 

And while it’s all roasting, you’ll slice up some sweet pear and fresh, crisp fennel. A creamy balsamic dressing and some tangy vegan cheese and well…this is NOT your average salad.

This is a CELEBRATION of plants. 

How to make this flavourful roasted red cabbage salad

This salad has a few components but I promise it’s SO simple to prep. In 45 minutes, you’re totally done and the kitchen is clean. Get the cabbage, onions and lentils roasting and then do everything else while the oven works its magic!

assortment of vegetables in bowls
It’s a few ingredients to be sure…but still very weeknight doable!

Step One: gather your ingredients. You’ll need some red cabbage, red onion, leftover cooked french lentils, ripe pear, fresh fennel, some walnuts, parsley, creamy vegan cheese – I like a semi-firm style like Spread ‘Em Kitchen Apricot Chile or even a vegan feta. Plus some oil, salt, pepper and a batch of my creamy balsamic dressing (you could easily make this on the weekend and keep it on hand until you’re ready to roast!).

Step Two: you’re gonna finely shred that cabbage and red onion (or buy it that way!!) and then toss with oil, salt, pepper and coriander. On a smaller sheet, toss the lentils with oil and salt. Then roast both at 400 degrees (205C) for 25-30 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes and checking the lentils every few minutes after that, as they will be done before the cabbage.

Step Three: whip up a batch of the creamy balsamic dressing if you haven’t already; prep your pear, fennel, walnuts and parsley and then tidy up the kitchen while you’re at it. 

Step Four: when the cabbage and lentils are ready, drizzle a few tablespoons of dressing over the cabbage and toss. Watch the acid in the dressing react with the cabbage, it’s cute. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the cabbage mixture and toss again. Serve the salad in bowls with the rest of the dressing on the side. I like to add a little extra drizzle to my bowl.

Think you won’t eat the whole thing? Then keep the cabbage and onion separate from the lentils and the cold ingredients, meal prep style. You can quickly warm the leftover cabbage mixture and toss with the rest of the ingredients.

More roasted vegetable salad recipes

roasted red cabbage salad in pink bowl with fork

Roasted Red Cabbage Salad with Crispy Lentils

This warm roasted red cabbage salad with crispy lentils is just the thing! A warm and satisfying salad packed with plenty of cool weather veggies like red cabbage, onion and fennel plus a creamy balsamic dressing and tons of flavour.

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Roasted Red Cabbage and Red Onion

  • ½ small red cabbage, finely shredded (⅛ inch), or 8 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced (⅛ inch)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

Crispy Roasted Lentils

  • 1 ½ cups cooked French lentils, you can sub canned lentils if you have a brand that aren’t too mushy
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Salad Ingredients

  • 1 ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup finely shredded fresh fennel, about 1 small bulb
  • ½ cup raw walnuts, chopped, or sub sunflower seeds if nut free
  • ½ cup curly parsley, finely chopped
  • ½ cup semi-firm vegan cheese, like Spread Em Kitchen or vegan feta
  • 1 batch Creamy Balsamic Dressing

Prep the roasted stuff

  • Preheat oven to 400℉ (205 ℃). Prepare a large and small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • On the large sheet, toss the cabbage and red onion with oil, salt and coriander and spread evenly. On the small sheet, toss the lentils with oil and salt.

  • Bake for 15 minutes, stir the cabbage and the lentils and assess how done the lentils are. They may cook faster than the cabbage, depending on how soft they were. So check them every 3-4 minutes as the cabbage cooks to ensure you don’t burn them.

Salad Assembly

  • Meanwhile, shake up the dressing if you haven’t already and slice/chop the remaining ingredients.

  • When the cabbage and lentils are done, remove from the oven. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss. Then, if making 4 servings, add the rest of the salad ingredients except the cheese to the cabbage mixture, toss and divide among 4 bowls. Top with some cheese and a little extra drizzle of dressing. ENJOY!!

If you won’t get through the whole recipe in one sitting, just toss together a single serving in a bowl and leave the cabbage mixture, lentils, dressing and fresh ingredients separate, meal prep style for storage. They’ll keep for 2-3 days in the fridge (you don’t have to refrigerate the lentils).

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