At Vedge, one of my favorite restaurants in Philadelphia, chef Rich Landau makes carrot "schwarma" with black lentils, an incredible Middle-Eastern-spiced dish that I constantly crave. It's flavorful and satisfying, as well as healthy without feeling overly virtuous. I end up making versions of his dish regularly from October to April. For this iteration, I add dates and tons of herbs. While this could certainly be a side dish for a large roast, I think it stands on its own as a vegetarian or vegan main course.
Make-ahead tips: The lentils and roasted carrots, without the herbs and dates, can be refrigerated separately, overnight; bring to room temperature before serving. Bring the dish to the potluck already assembled with the vegetables on top of the lentils, then garnish with yogurt and extra herbs just before serving.
For the carrots:
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil, coriander, paprika, and cumin, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the carrots out on the baking sheets.
Roast, rotating the baking sheets halfway through and shaking the carrots, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the carrots are nicely browned and tender. Let the carrots cool slightly, then transfer to a large bowl and toss with the herbs and dates.
For the lentils:
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with water by 2 inches and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils, reserving ½ cup of the cooking liquid; season with salt.
In a deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and season generously with salt. Cook, stirring frequently until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. (If you want even more flavor, cook for 15 minutes longer for deeply browned onions.) Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and reserved cooking liquid, and cook until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and the cilantro.
Arrange the lentils on a platter and top with the carrots. Garnish with more herb leaves and dollops of yogurt on top (or alongside), if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Reprinted from Modern Potluck: Beautiful Food to Share. Copyright © 2016 by Kristin Donnelly. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Yossy Arefi. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.