This Easy Lentil Salad is packed with lentils, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, fresh herbs, olives, and feta cheese all tossed in a Greek-inspired dressing. It's easy to make, great for meal prep, and works as a side dish or main course.
This tasty Lentil Salad is wholesome, satisfying, and bursting with mouthwatering flavors. It makes the perfect healthy meal prep recipe, so you can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and enjoy it for lunch or dinner all week long.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that when you think about dishes that make your mouth water, lentils aren’t quite at the top of the list. These nutrient-packed legumes are vastly underrated, in my opinion. Lentils are low in calories and high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals; making them an ultra beneficial addition to any healthy diet.
I try to incorporate lentils into the meals I cook for my family as often as I can, from using them in soups to making vegetarian sloppy joes with them. Personally, I think everyone could benefit from having more lentils in their life. Not only are they ultra-healthy and versatile, but they’re incredibly cost-efficient as well.
This Mediterranean-inspired Lentil Salad is made with a flavorful combination of fresh vegetables, bold herbs, tangy feta cheese, and salty kalamata olives, all tossed with a base of cooked lentils and coated with a simple homemade salad dressing. Pro tip: Cook your lentils the night before to make life super easy when you’re ready to prepare the salad. You can also grab a package of precooked lentils (Trader Joe's has a great one) or rinse some canned lentils.
Serve this dish on its own or alongside a lean protein like chicken or fish. Whether you’re serving dinner for the family or hosting friends for a barbecue, this refreshing and satisfying salad makes the perfect healthy side dish.
Key Ingredients and Easy Swaps
To bring this vibrant salad to life, you will need the following key ingredients:
- Lentils: You can use any kind of lentils you like, but I recommend green or brown lentils as they hold up really well in salads.
- Fresh veggies: We will be using cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, celery, and red onion as our salad vegetables. Feel free to also toss in any veggies you have in the fridge that you want to use.
- Herbs: Fresh mint and parsley add tons of bright, bold flavors to this refreshing salad. I don’t recommend subbing these out for the dried versions.
- Kalamata olives: You can find these in the canned vegetable aisle of any grocery store. They add a nice salty flavor and a depth of richness that perfectly balances out all of the bright, fresh flavors.
- Feta cheese: I love using this tangy and creamy cheese in this salad, but you can also swap it out for goat cheese or grated parmesan cheese.
- Homemade dressing: We will be making a simple Greek-inspired vinaigrette using a base of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard.
Health Benefits of Lentils
Lentils are nutrient-rich legumes that are typically used as the bases of salads, soups, stews, and bowls. In recent years, they have become popular as a meat substitute for vegan dishes, due to their high protein content. Despite their growing popularity, lentils are often overlooked for more commonly known legumes and grains like chickpeas, quinoa, and rice.
Lentils are a cheap and delicious way to provide your body with lots of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. With so many nutrients packed into these tiny legumes, it’s no surprise that lentils are also associated with many health benefits. According to Healthline, these are some of the most impressive health benefits of lentils include:
- Improves your digestive health and overall gut function
- Reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer
- Improves blood sugar and blood pressure levels
- Supports the maintenance of a healthy weight
- Contains anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties
- Promotes bone health
What to Serve With Lentil Salad
While Easy Lentil Salad can be enjoyed on its own, you can also pair it with plenty of delicious dishes if you’re looking for a more satisfying meal for a group. Some of my top choices include chicken, fish, and cooked veggies. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, here are some of my favorite dishes to pair with lentil salad:
- Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore
- Healthy Chicken Piccata
- Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
- Garlic Lemon Baked Cod
- Greek Tostadas with Eggplant
- Flank Steak with Tomato Basil Salad
How to Store Leftovers
This dish keeps really well in the fridge, so it makes a fantastic healthy meal prep recipe. You can either keep the lentil salad stored in a large covered bowl or divide it into single servings in meal prep containers. When stored in an airtight container, lentil salad will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 4 days.
What's the best way to cook lentils for salad?
Lentils are one of the easiest things to cook and unlike beans, they don't require any soaking or extra preparation. Plus they cook in 15-20 minutes.
To cook the lentils, simply add them to a pot with water or broth. Use enough to fully cover the lentils by at least 2 inches. Add any herbs you like to add flavor to the lentils. Then bring them to a boil and cook for 17-25 minutes until the lentils are nice and tender. The exact cooking time will depend on the type of lentils and how old they are. Older lentils take longer to cook.
Then drain the lentils and run under cold water to stop them from cooking more. Since these lentils are going to be used in salad, I like to take them out as soon as they are tender but haven't gotten mushy at all.
What kind of lentils are best for salads?
There are many different types of lentils from French lentils to green lentils to red lentils or Puy lentils. Although any lentil will work in this salad, I generally recommend using green, brown, or French (Beluga) lentils since they tend to hold their shape and texture well. Red lentils tend to get really soft and don't work as well for salad preparations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this healthy salad recipe:
Can you eat lentils raw?
No, lentils cannot be eaten raw. Lentils contain a protein called lectin that binds to the digestive tract and can produce toxic reactions in the body, meaning they can actually cause you physical harm when eaten raw. Always make sure to cook your lentils first!
Are lentils good for losing weight?
Because lentils are low in calories and high in protein and fiber, they are known to be a great food to incorporate into a healthy diet focused on weight loss. If you’re looking to lose weight, healthy recipes like this lentil salad are great to add into your meals on a regular basis.
What can I use instead of lentils?
If you aren’t a fan of lentils, there are quite a few different routes you can take. You can add a bed of greens like mixed greens or arugula as the base or use canned chickpeas. Another good option would be to add pasta and make it a pasta salad.
How long can I store lentil salad?
As long as you store lentil salad in a sealed airtight container, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.
More Healthy Lentil Recipes
If you liked this healthy recipe with lentils, you’ll love these:
Easy Lentil Salad
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- 2.5 cups cooked lentils (1 cup dry)
- 1 cup cucumber, chopped (Persian or English is best)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/8 cup mint, chopped
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
- 1/2 cup reduced fat crumbled feta cheese
- 3 tbsp olive oil (dressing)
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar (dressing)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (dressing)
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard (dressing)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (dressing)
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano (dressing)
- 1 Salt and pepper (dressing)
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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