Lentils are my superfood – a great source of plant-based iron, high in protein and fibre, and versatile enough to suit a salad or a stew. This lentil salad is all about the dressing which marinades the otherwise bland lentils, creating a simple lentil dish recipe that everyone will love.
Health Benefits of Eating Lentils
Lentils Are a Good Source of Iron
Lentils and other members of the legume family are some of the best sources of iron on a plant-based diet. One cup of cooked lentils can have up to 6 milligrams of iron. Most adult women require up to 18 milligrams of iron per day, while adult men require 8 milligrams.
How To Maximise The Absorption of Iron
Vitamin C helps us to more efficiently absorb the iron from lentils which is a non-haem source. Adding fresh lemon juice to the salad can increase the iron absorption by a factor of 4.
Lentils Are A Good Source of Zinc
If you are following a plant-based diet, lentils and other legumes may be one of your top source of zinc. Men need at least 11 milligrams of zinc per day, while women need a little less at 8 milligrams per day.
How to Maximise The Absorption of Zinc
Zinc, along with iron and other minerals, is better absorbed from grains and legumes with some pre-soaking, fermentation or germination. See How To Get Enough Zinc for Vegans and Vegetarians for more information on maximizing the availability of this important mineral.
Red Lentil Salad
Red lentils break apart more so than brown lentils and only take 7-10 minutes to cook. They can be used in this recipe, but I prefer them in soup (like this Greek Lentil Soup with Lemon or Curried Butternut Squash Lentil Soup)
Greek Lentil Salad
Make this salad into a greek lentil salad by adding chopped tomato, cucumber and olives. Use oregano as your herb of choice and top with some tasty feta.
Lentil Salad with Feta
Add 1 cup of crumbled feta to this dish for an extra dash of savouriness. The white colour also contrasts nicely with the purples, greens and browns of this dish.
French Lentil Salad Recipe
Puy lentils can be used in this recipe, which are also called French lentils. Puy lentils are a type of French lentil (also known as green lentils) that is distinct from other French lentils due to the area they are grown. French lentils are more sturdy than brown lentils and slightly smaller. They also retain their shape better when cooked.
Lebanese Lentil Salad Recipe
To make a Lebanese lentil salad use fresh mint as your herb of choice and add 1/4 cup of fresh lemon juice in place of vinegar. Top with crumbled feta.
Lentil and Quinoa Salad
Cook 1 cup of dry quinoa to make 2 cups of cooked quinoa. Add the cooked quinoa to the lentils before dressing for a delicious lentil and quinoa salad.
Lentil Spinach Salad Recipe
Add 2 cups of baby spinach to this recipe to increase the green and add more texture. Chopped and destemmed kale would work too. To soften the kale, dress the salad 30 minutes before serving.
How To Cook Lentils
Presoaking your lentils beforehand is not necessary, but can help decrease the phytic acid making the minerals more available to us. As a general rule brown, green Puy and French lentils take about 30 minutes to cook from dry and use a 1 cup of dry lentils to 2 cups of water ratio.
Using Fresh Herbs
This salad tastes great using whatever herbs are in season. I love adding basil and cilantro in the summer, and rosemary and sage in the colder months. Dill is always a winner for me and goes great with any mustard-based dressing.
Making a Vinaigrette
A traditional vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar. I prefer to use less oil in my vinaigrette and sometimes make up the remaining liquid with water depending on how thin I want the dressing. For more favourite salad dressing recipes see My Ultimate Guide On How To Make Salad Dressing.
Canned Lentil Salad Recipe
If using canned brown lentils, be sure to rinse the lentils well. Canned brown lentils are softer than lentils cooked from dry as the skin has been partially broken down by the canning process.
Vegan Lentil Salad Recipe
Use maple syrup in place of honey to make this salad recipe into a vegan lentil salad.
Gluten-Free Lentil Salad Recipe
This lentil salad recipe is naturally gluten-free. A few prepared mustards are made with either wheat flour or malt vinegar, so be sure to read the label if a severe intolerance to gluten exists ie celiac disease.
All Seasons Lentil Salad with Fresh Herbs and Basil Vinaigrette
- 1 1/2 cups brown lentils dry
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 large red onion sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, dill, basil, etc), minced
- 1 cup mixed sprouts
- 1 large lemon juiced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3/4 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey raw
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1 1/4 tsp cracked pepper
- 1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (start with 1/4 cup, option to make up the rest with water)
- To cook the lentils, first give them a quick rinse under a sieve and make sure there are no little pebbles present. Place the drained 1 1/2 cups of dry lentils in a saucepan and add the 3 cups of water.
- Bring the lentils to a boil and let simmer with the lid half on until all the water has evaporated, or until the lentils are tender. This should take about 30 minutes. Set the lentils aside and let cool, or refrigerate until needed.
- When you are ready to prepare the salad, add the sliced red onion, chopped fresh herbs and cooled lentils to a bowl and mix to combine. Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Toss in your fresh sprouts.
- To prepare the dressing, add all of the ingredients into a small blender and mix to combine. Start with 1/4 cup of oil, increase to your liking. Option to also use half oil and half water. If you don't have a blender, mix all ingredients except for the oil in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add in the oil while continuing to whisk until the dressing has emulsified.
- Add the dressing to the prepared lentil salad and mix to combine. Taste and season as necessary. Voila!
Make it a winter salad: Use rosemary or dried herbs. Use apple cider vinegar in place of lemon
Make it a gluten-free salad: Check to make sure the mustard is gluten-free
Using canned Lentils: Drain the canned lentils well before adding to the remaining salad ingredients Nutrition Analysis was done using 1/4 cup of olive oil.