This Mediterranean lentil salad is one of my standard go-to dishes. Honestly, we probably eat it every other week in the summer. (In the winter, we’re mostly into lentil soups.) The list of reasons why we eat so much lentil salad is pretty much endless:
- Everybody likes it.
- I can make a huge batch, lasting for several meals.
- Served with a slice of bread or a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, it’s a complete meal in one simple dish.
- Perfect for picnics, potlucks, barbecues and no-fuss school lunches.
- Dried lentils are affordable, cook quickly and are full of protein and fibre.
- It’s the sort of salad that can be made with whatever you have in the fridge. While I’ve suggested tomatoes and carrots, feel free to add cucumber, steamed broccoli, sweet peas, coloured peppers, sauteed kale. Really anything goes!
- It’s vegan, gluten-free, heart-healthy, gut-healthy and so, so easy!
Mediterranean lentil salad
The recipe is scaled to serve 2 to 3 as a complete meal or 4 to 6 as a side dish. I usually make a double batch because the leftovers are delicious. And it’s pretty easy to eat healthy when lunch is already in the fridge!
Another thing I do is pre-soak and sprout my lentils. While this is not strictly necessary, it does significantly reduce the cooking time. Sprouting also converts the storage carbs, increasing the protein and overall nutrient value.
Sprouted lentils can be eaten raw, but for this salad, I cook them for a quick 5-minute boil. It makes them easier to eat and blends better with the textures and flavours.
Even if you don’t go through all the trouble of soaking and sprouting your lentils, I do recommend cooking them rather than using canned lentils. The flavour and texture are so much nicer. It’s also zero-waste and way more affordable. Unlike other legumes, dried lentils only take about 15 minutes to cook. By the time they are finished boiling, you’ll have the rest of the salad prepared. A delicious meal in under 30 minutes!
- 12 oz French lentils (1 3/4 cups)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- Rinse the lentils, then place them in a medium-sized pot with the bay and thyme. Add water, to cover (about 4 cups).
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are just tender but not mushy.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Mix all the vinaigrette ingredients in the bottom of a large bowl.
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 3 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tbsp of fresh herbs (parsley or basil)
- 4 oz of feta, crumbled (or 1/4 cup of toasted sunflower seeds for a vegan alternative)
- 1 bunch of arugula
- Prep all of the vegetables while the lentils cook. When the lentils are finished cooking, drain them, then put them back in the pot and stir in the onion, garlic and carrots. Put the lid on for 5 minutes and allow the vegetables to cook slightly in the residual steam.
- Add the chopped tomatoes to the vinagrette. When you’re ready to serve the salad, add the lentils and fresh herbs to the vinaigrette and toss everything to combine. Serve on a bed of arugula topped with crumbled feta or toasted sunflower seeds. Yum!
- The feta can be mixed into the lentils for leftovers, but don’t serve the leftovers with arugula because it won’t stay crisp.