This lentil salad recipe bursts with flavor and health. It's crisp, crunchy and cool. Eat it for a healthy lunch or dinner side. It's transports easily so pack it for a picnic. Lentils and quinoa give it protein, vegetables for crunch, feta for tang, pomegranate seeds for color and a sweet-tart punch, and herbs for a fresh garden lift. It's super satisfying and flavorful.
This recipe for lentil salad grew out of needing lunch after a workout. Pull everything out of the fridge that looks possible to work with and see what comes. I've been enjoying it for lunch the past few weeks and decided it was time to share it with you.
I used to think lentils tasted like dirt. Being health-focused, I wanted to love them, because they are packed with fiber, plant-based protein and are naturally gluten free. One day I tried a bowl of lentil soup at a favorite restaurant and fell in love with lentils. Now I eat them regularly. Hot or cold, they are versatile, inexpensive, and handy to have in your pantry (or refrigerator). Just 1 ounce has 9 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein.
- Cooked and cooled quinoa
- Cooked and cooled green lentils
- Persian or mini cucumbers
- Pomegranate seeds
- Pine nuts
- Feta cheese
- Mint leaves
- Thyme leaves
Start by cooking the lentils and quinoa. After cooking, lay them out on rimmed baking sheets to cool quickly, then refrigerate. Use French green lentils, as they hold up well in salads and have great flavor. For an eye-catching salad, use the tri-color quinoa.
Next, chop the celery, carrots and cucumber, cube or crumble the cheese, chop shallot and herbs.
For the vinaigrette, add ingredients to a jar and shake well or whisk in a small bowl.
To assemble, add all ingredients to a bowl and mix gently, then toss with vinaigrette.
For the cucumbers, slice them into quarters lengthwise, then slice out the seedy centers. It reduces extra juice and seeds, just using the "meat" part of the cucumber for the salad.
Short Cuts and Prep Ahead
- To keep this fast and easy use already cooked (steamed) lentils from Trader Joes or Melissa's Produce. Find them in the refrigerated produce section.
- Buy already crumbled cheese
- Cook the lentils and quinoa the day ahead and chill
- Sub goat cheese crumbles for feta (or skip for dairy free)
- Use English cucumber for Persians or minis
- Swap chopped walnuts for pine nuts (skip for nut allergies)
- Use finely chopped red onion instead of shallot
- No mint leaves? You can skip but the flavor is really nice, add more thyme
Grow Your Own Herbs!
In spring and summer, fresh herbs are easy to grow in pots in your yard or on a balcony. I have English thyme, lemon thyme, basil, sage, parsley, dill, chives, cilantro, and oregano growing right now. The lemon thyme in this salad is especially nice, but you have to grow it (plant some!). Regular thyme works fine too. It's fun (and economical) to grow your own herbs.
- For another terrific quinoa salad, try this one with grilled corn and herbs.
- For a great picnic packable recipe try this Greek pasta salad or my three bean salad.
- Never cooked quinoa? Here's help and 10 recipe ideas.
- 2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa tri-color or white
- 2 cups cooked, cooled green lentils homemade or purchased
- 2 ribs celery chopped fine
- 2 carrots chopped fine
- 2 Persian or mini cucumbers chopped fine
- ½ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 2-4 ounces feta cheese crumbled or chopped into small cubes
- 1 medium shallot chopped fine
- 8 large mint leaves chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Classic Vinaigrette Dressing
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- 2 pinches sea salt
- 2 pinches ground black pepper
- Once you're vegetables are chopped and prepped, this salad goes together in a snap. Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl and mix gently. Whisk the vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and toss with the salad. Add any additional salt, pepper or fresh lemon juice for your taste preference.