Nik Sharma’s recipes for lentil-stuffed onions and cauliflower with black garlic yoghurt | Food

Amanda M. Rye

The idea of stuffing vegetables isn’t new, but it’s a practice I cherish. Defined by the size and dynamics of vegetable architecture, you could potentially stuff anything: aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, chillies, okra … the list goes on. This week, onions are filled like little pots with lentils, spices and vegetable stock scented with bright, gorgeous saffron. The onions transform into little gifts. Away from stuffing is this smoky, roast cauliflower, which is one of those vegetables that greatly benefits from caramelising in a hot oven. Not only does it take on a bittersweet taste, but it also acquires a crisp texture, to both of which I’m extremely partial.

Roast cauliflower with black garlic yoghurt (pictured above)

The accompanying yoghurt is flavoured with black garlic, which adds a gentle touch of sweetness, while mint breathes in an air of coolness.

Prep 25 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

500g cauliflower, trimmed and broken into bite-sized florets
12 curry leaves
tbsp (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil
tbsp poppy seeds
tsp ground cumin
tsp ground coriander
tsp ground turmeric
tsp smoked sweet paprika
tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or mild red chilli powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
6-6½ tbsp (10g)
mint leaves, chopped or torn

For the black garlic yoghurt
1 whole head
black garlic
240g unsweetened plain Greek yoghurt
, chilled
15ml lemon or lime juice
, to taste

Heat the oven to 220C (200C)/425F/gas 7 and line a baking tray with foil. Put the cauliflower and curry leaves in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, mix half the oil, the poppy seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika and chilli powder,season, then pour over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread out the cauliflower on the lined tray, then roast for about 30 minutes, rotating the tray once halfway, until golden brown and crisp.

While the cauliflower is cooking, prepare the yoghurt. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife until you have a paste, then put in a bowl with the yoghurt and lemon juice, and mix to combine. Season with salt to taste, then chill in the fridge.

To serve, spread the yoghurt out on a serving plate or in a bowl. Top with the roast cauliflower and any pan scrapings, drizzle the remaining oil on top, garnish with the mint and serve.

Baked onions with lentils

Nik Sharma’s baked onions stuffed with lentils.
Nik Sharma’s baked onions stuffed with lentils.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1hr 20 min
Serves 4

4 medium yellow or white onions (about 200g each)
200g cooked green or puy lentils, drained
1 tsp red chilli flakes
tsp ground cumin
tsp ground coriander
Zest of 1 lemon
Fine sea salt
tsp ground black pepper
35g panko breadcrumbs
tbsp (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, or unsalted butter, melted
tbsp (30ml) fresh lemon juice
12 strands o
120ml vegetable stock
4 garlic cloves
, peeled and minced
2-2¼ tbsp (8g) chopped coriander leaves

Peel the onions and discard the outer papery skins. Trim the base off the onions and put them in a saucepan wide enough to hold them all in a single layer. Put the kettle on, then pour over enough boiling water to cover the onions. Put the saucepan over a medium heat for about four minutes, and simmer until the onions are just tender but not falling apart. Carefully lift out the onions with a slotted spoon and transfer to a board.

Slice a quarter off the top of each onion and reserve. Using a paring knife or spoon, carefully scoop out the middle, to create a hole in the centre of each onion. Chop the reserved tops and scooped-out centres of the onion, and set aside 30g – save the rest for another dish.

In a medium bowl, fold the lentils, chilli flakes, cumin, coriander and lemon zest with the chopped onion flesh, then season.

Fill each onion with the lentil mixture, then top with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs. Transfer to a 24cm roasting pan or dish and drizzle the tops with olive oil.

Heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Stir the lemon juice, saffron and garlic in a medium bowl with the stock. Pour this into the onion pan, then bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. If the liquid starts to dry out too much, add some boiling water; you should have at least 60ml left at the end. Remove the pan from the oven, garnish with the coriander and the juices from the dish, and serve warm.

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