So…I’m kind of having the lunch of all lunches today.

And I’m kind of freaking out. Big time.

And no, I’m not delusional enough to get this excited about red lentil-rice cakes and the best cauliflower I’ve ever had. Although….these were both amazing.  Like, they are my new favorite lunch.

Probably at least until I have lunch today.


With….(cue drumroll)….LIDIA BASTIANICH.

Yes. I am totally for real. Today I am going to have lunch with LIDIA BASTIANICH.

Sometimes…food blogging totally has it’s perks. You forget about them on occasion when you’re covered in buttercream that won’t fluff or pie crust that won’t roll. But they’re there.

I can’t even take it.  Can someone pinch me?

Or at least give me some guidance about what to wear?

This whole thing is a bit bittersweet because my dad LOVED Lidia. And he would have just been so proud. He would have been running around to all his (uber Italian) coworkers, bragging about it. And I just wish I could have called him to tell him.  I just have to keep telling myself that he’s watching me from wherever he is, and sometimes I imagine him telling me things in my head (this probably makes me a little crazy but it’s super comforting to hear him and imagine that he’s somehow communicating with me) (although a fair amount of the time, he’s rolling his eyes…so it’s entirely possible that he is somehow communicating with me).


Anyways. The point of this lunch is that Lidia is making an exciting announcement about a new line of packaged food that she is launching in conjunction with Whole Foods, so I can’t wait to update you guys on whatever that is on Friday!

And until then…we have red lentil-rice cakes. And the best cauliflower I’ve ever eaten.

All Mediterranean flavor-infused in honor of Lidia…and totally delicious. Not too shabby.

**The winner of the Whole Grains giveaway is commenter number 103…MonsterAteMy!  I’ll be emailing you today to get your contact info!


One year ago…Tofu Braised in Rhubarb Sauce
Three years ago…Beef Pierogi
Four years ago…Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

Red Lentil-Rice Cakes
Makes 6, adapted from Cooking Light


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 oz part-skim mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg


  • Put lentils and basmati rice in a large pot and cover with water. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until water has evaporated and lentils and rice are cooked. Let sit covered with heat turned off for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell pepper, red onion and garlic. Saute until tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add to the rice/lentil mixture, along with the mozzarella, panko, basil, salt, pepper, and egg. Mix well and then put in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.
  • Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Heat 2 tsp olive oil. In 1/3 cup increments, scoop lentil/rice mixture into the pan, spreading to form 3-inch circles. Let cook 5 minutes on one side, or until lightly browned. Flip over and cook 5 minutes on the second side. Remove from pan to a paper towel-lined dish and repeat with remaining oil and batter.

Spicy Cauliflower with Saffron, Honey, and Capers
Serves 4, adapted from Modern Mediterranean


  • 1/8 tsp saffron
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 shallots
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 hot red pepper, minced (I used red fresno chilis)
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. In a small bowl, combine the saffron with 3/4 cup warm water. Stir together and let sit while the rest of the recipe is made.
  2. Trim the cauliflower. Cut the florets into 1-inch pieces.
  3. Cut the shallots in half lengthwise, and then cut into 1/4-inch wedges, also lengthwise.
  4. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Add in the shallots and cook until they are just golden around the edges, 1-2 minutes. Add in the pepper, capers, and honey. Cook until shallots are browned, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the cauliflower, salt and black pepper to the pan. Stir so that the cauliflower is completely coated with the shallot/caper/honey mix. Add in the saffron water and stir to coat the cauliflower. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook until all of the water has evaporated and the cauliflower is tender, about 12 minutes.
  6. Uncover, sprinkle with basil, and serve.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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82 Responses to Red Lentil-Rice Cakes and Spicy Cauliflower with Saffron, Honey and Capers

  1. The Spicy Cauliflower with Saffron and the honey…now that sounds wonderful to me! I love cauli and need to make it more often!

  2. YUM! I love cauliflower but don’t make it nearly often enough. This recipe looks great.
    Have such a wonderful time at lunch!!

  3. I love this idea, also love the use of the cauliflower as I’ve never tried it like that.

  4. I still haven’t tried lentils yet, I am so behind the times on those. The cauliflower sounds amazing though, love the addition of the honey!

    Have the best time at lunch, I can’t wait to hear all about it 🙂

  5. Wow, that’s amazing! Congratulations!

  6. Ashley says:

    Have an AMAZING time. She’s a legend!! Your dad will definitely be watching over you, girl! xoxo

  7. Danielle says:

    I am so jealous! Enjoy it.

  8. Beth says:

    This lunch looks so delicious. I’d love to try it too! And enjoy your lunch today – can’t wait to hear all about it.

  9. Amy says:

    SQUEE! I love her. I wouldn’t know the first thing to wear either. I spent 30 minutes on the phone last night with Fabio Viviani. Hello. (Thank goodness he couldn’t see me.) He sent me a text message, too. I saved it. Of course. Anyway, I sat down next to Paul on the couch and he said “you’re glowing.” And I said, “Ya. This blogging gig is ok. Really ok.” *smiles*

  10. Very awesome! I believe that your dad IS super proud and definitely keeping tabs on you.

  11. Nice recipe,keep sharing such a good recipe.Thanks

  12. Audra says:

    This recipe is coming at a perfect time- I was thinking of trying to make some whole grain “cakes” as an attempt to cook us healthier foods that also happen to be tasty. These look wonderful!

    Have fun at lunch!!

  13. Ashley Bee says:

    <3 Tomorrow would have been my dad's 53rd birthday. I feel you on the missing thing, so so much.

    Congrats on meeting a culinary idol :D!!

    Maybe if I find myself in NYC we can get lunch too, since you’re one of MY culinary idols, hehe.

  14. Jessie says:

    Congrats, Joanne! How exciting!!! Your dad must be so proud as he’s watching over you 🙂 Have a fantastic time – I can’t wait to hear all the details! Until then, I’ll just enjoy these lentil-rice cakes and licked-up cauliflower 😉

  15. Jessie says:

    *kicked-up* cauliflower. Duh 😛

  16. Warm cauliflower salad is the best, and I love the sounds of this version! So exciting about your lunch – can’t wait to hear about it!

  17. Mary says:

    Well, it certainly won’t be the same ol’ same ol’ lunch and I know you’re going to have a great time. I can’t wait to see your Friday feature, though it will be hard pressed to be better than these rice and lentil cakes you’ve posted today. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary .

  18. Lidia who? I am a bad blogger…. 😉
    I am excited because you are excited, though. Way to go! 🙂

  19. sandra says:

    Congratulation – I can’t wait to hear how it went.

  20. I’m sooooooooooooooooooooo excited about your lunch! I watch Lidia’s show alllllll the time, and would go absolutely nuts if I got to actually sit down with her for a meal! Eeeppp! PLUS I have all the ingredients for these lentil patties, so they might be happening tonight for dinner!! <3

  21. Gloria Baker says:

    These look amazing Joanne and I love lentils! delicious!

  22. Pam says:

    Yeah! I am so excited for you & I can’t wait to see how lunch goes. Details on the blog lady.

    The lentil rice cakes & cauliflower look really hearty and delicious.

  23. Lora says:

    Lidia is delightful. These lentil rice cakes just made me hungry all over again and I just came from a breakfast event!

  24. This dish sounds amazing! Have a great lunch, I bet you are excited 🙂

  25. So jealous of your lunch with Lidia. Enjoy!!

  26. That Girl says:

    I can’t wait to hear how the lunch went!

  27. Jenn Kendall says:

    oh my gosh, how exciting!!!! cannot wait to hear about the lunch! i’m totally loving that cauliflower, sounds so delicious!

  28. bellini says:

    By the time you read this you will have had your amazing lunch with Lydia and still be on Cloud 9. What fun!!

  29. i’m pretty sure it was your dad that made meeting lydia possible 😉 he will definitely be smiling all day!!

    this cauliflower sounds absolutely wonderful!

  30. Delicious! I am obsessed with veggie burgers and patties lately, I have to try this.

  31. Kalyn Denny says:

    I’m sad to hear she has sold out to packaged food, but I’d still LOVE to meet her! (And this recipe looks amazing.)

  32. grace says:

    what an exciting experience! almost makes me want to move to nyc. 🙂

  33. SallyBR says:

    Too Cool For Words!

    Huge fan of Lidia myself, so I will patiently wait to hear about your lunch with her…what to wear? I would wear something simple, yet elegant… nope, not true, I would freak out in front of the mirror trying 29 different outfits, pulling my hair in the process, and torturing Phil to help me decide…


  34. Sara says:

    Mmmm, those lentil-rice cakes look just fantastic…awesome flavors! 🙂

  35. Eileen says:

    Oh man, how exciting! You clearly must report back and let us know how it went. 🙂 I definitely haven’t been eating enough cauliflower lately–punching it up with pepper and herbs sounds so good.

  36. Karen says:

    Have fun!! Looks like you’ve been getting a lot of spam lately, too 🙁

  37. What an amazing experience! She’s so great. And, I’m certain your dad is aware and enormously proud and excited for you!

  38. I can’t wait to see you Saturday night and get every single detail of this lunch!!! I am almost certain your dad is jumping up and down for you.

  39. Dixya says:

    both the dishes look soooo good. I would love to try the quinoa sometime for dinner soon 🙂 and I am confident your dad is UBER PROUD OF YOU 🙂 XOXO

  40. love this meal combination! 🙂
    totally my kind of meal!
    hope you have a fun lunch with lidia… how very special! i am sure your dad is smiling down on you and might be spying from up above. 🙂

  41. Guru Uru says:

    I reckon your dad would be over the moon for you 😀
    Delicious recipes today as well!

    Choc Chip Uru

  42. That is SO COOL. I hope you post all about it!!

  43. Wow! That is so exciting to be at lunch with Lidia! I love her recipes.

    What a delicious lunch combo you made! Both recipes sound amazing. We are serious caperholics here and the cauliflower recipe will be tried very soon~

  44. I hope you had a fabulous lunch date. I’m sure your dad was smiling down on you Joanne! Those red lentil cakes sound pretty darn tasty 🙂

  45. What a lunch date!! Enjoy and report back with details 🙂 I looove the sound of this entire meal. Lentils are my best friend during pregnancy (ew, meat. gross) and I just adore cauliflower!

  46. OohLookBel says:

    Oh, I am definitely going to try making cauliflower this way, it sounds amazing. How was your lunch?

  47. Dining Alone says:

    WOW! I am very jealous and can’t wait to hear about her product line. I love watching her cooking shows.

  48. Natalie G says:

    OMG this sounds amazing, I have to pin this one for later. Anything with lentils lately have been so good.

  49. Blond Duck says:

    I’m sure your dad will be right beside you at the table when you chat. Kudos to you!

  50. Donna says:

    Totally jealous. Must have details!!!

  51. Anonymous says:

    of course your dad is communicating with you – eyes rolling and other wise. i’m sure he watched over your lunch today and enjoyed every minute of it as i’m sure you did.

  52. Hi Joanne,

    I am looking forward to hearing about your lunch with Lidia! She is such a nice lady. Enjoy your day! And I have missed your recipes !! Hope to see you soon again! 🙂 Anna

  53. This comment has been removed by the author.

  54. Hotly Spiced says:

    Off to google Lidia. Not so well known in these parts! I look forward to hearing all about the lunch xx

  55. I must try the cauliflower 🙂 looking forward to reading about your lunch tomorrow!

  56. Cathleen says:

    WhaT a delicious looking lunch! I have got to try this!

  57. Revathi says:

    looks delicious awesome cilcks..have started following you and you have great collection of recipes,When your free plz drop into my space and will be encrouging if you follow my space…Thanks

  58. Kari says:

    So much lunch time excitement! I hope you have a brilliant time on your lunch outing, and these do look like brilliant lentil cakes and amazing cauliflower. Perhaps you could offer Lidia some to put into her range? 😉

  59. I love any sort of fried “cake” whether it’s veggies, legumes, etc. They are always delicious!

  60. I’m totally digging these red lentil cakes! Brilliant idea!

  61. I have no doubt he’d be incredibly proud of everything you’ve accomplished (including this wonderful lunch you had yesterday… which I saw the pictures from on Facebook).

    Such a beautiful recipe you have here. I’m not sure what I like more… the cakes or that beautiful cauliflower. I think I’m in love with them equally.

  62. kellypea says:

    Lucky duckie, you! That is quite the honor — and interesting about the Whole Foods product line, too. Up early this morning and being one who loves an atypical breakfast, I’d love a bite of that right now. The honey, saffron, caper combo is intriguing. (and holy cow you have some interesting spam comments — I’m cracking up!)

  63. marie says:

    This recipe looks so good, I am embarrassed to say I think I’ve only cooked with saffron once or twice, I seriously need to remedy that stat!

  64. So jealous of you lunch date!! SO COOL!!

  65. teresa says:

    i saw your pics on instagram and i was so excited for you! what a great meetup! i’m excited to hear about it. and i have no doubt that your dad was watching over you, incredibly proud.

    i happen to have all the ingredients for that gorgeous cauliflower, which is prepared much tastier then how i planned to prepare mine!

  66. P says:

    I love cauliflower since it’s such a great vegetable to add some pizazz to. The lunch date sounds amazing!!!

  67. That cauliflower recipe is calling my name! And such a great side dish to go with these cakes. I can NOT believe you met LIDIA BASTIANICH!!! How freaking awesome. Is she as cute and nice as she seems?? And judging by the pics I saw, you had a pretty darn good time. so jealous! 🙂

  68. ohhh my goodness do I love cauliflower. In all forms. and that is amazing news!!! I suppose you’ll post with a play by play update, yes?

  69. Sammie says:

    Oh yummy healthy and delicious meal! And congrats on meeting your culinary idol!! Awww your dad must be really proud of you!! 🙂 you’ve come so far!!

  70. Colynn O says:

    That’s so awesome! And I’m sure that your dad really is watching over you and is SUPER proud.

  71. Reeni Pisano says:

    I just did a happy dance for you and let out a squeeeeee! I can’t wait to hear all about it! (I’m turning a little green right now). You know I am a cauliflower lover! These have such a unique mix of flavors I’m not surprised it’s your best.

  72. Chris says:

    I am not going to pinch you…the boy would hit me 😉

  73. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, How wonderful. I am so happy for you. I am sure your Dad is smiling and so proud of you. Life is very confusing but the Lord has His plan. Enjoy every minute and take pictures.
    Blessings dear. Catherine xoxo

  74. Laura says:

    I am almost as excited about these lentil cakes and cauliflower. Because they look seriously delicious. COngrats–that is super cool!

  75. Karis says:

    I feel ignorant, googling Lidia now and also pinning your red lentil cakes.

  76. Annie Patz says:

    Ahhhh! That’s so awesome! I LOVE her! So she is coming out with some packaged foods eh? I’ll have to keep an eye out. These lentil cakes look super yummy, I just made quinoa cakes the other day! I didn’t mean for this post to have so many exclamation marks ha, but I hope your lunch goes well.

  77. Von says:

    Congrats! 🙂 Hope the lunch goes well!!! The cauliflower looks pretty amazing….and I’m usually not that fond of cauliflower!! haha….

  78. OMG that is SOOOO awesome girl! You definitely have earned it. You have such a gift! And of course this lunch…the crust on those cakes…swoon!

  79. Debbie says:

    Another recipe that is a keeper. Wow that looks good! Have a GREAT time at lunch with Lidia!!!!!

  80. Betsy says:

    My husband and I made these recipes last night. Loved the Red Lentil/Rice Cakes! We omitted the pepper from the cauliflower (b/c we didn’t have any on hand), so it was bland, our mistake.

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