This healthy Lentil Salad recipe is made with brown lentils, cucumber, sweet red bell pepper, onion, and herbs, tossed in a simple lemony dressing. It's filling, full of bright flavors, and a perfect summer salad! Vegan and Gluten-free.
A while back, people used to say that vegetarian salads consisted just of lettuce and tomatoes, and they would ask, "Who orders that?" But because of a few chefs and other foodies, salads made with vegetables began to explore our appetites and imaginations, moving from being the side dish to the main attraction.
In this article, we bring you a protein-rich and delicious lentil salad recipe. This salad recipe is unique. Lentil salad is made with different kinds of lentils mixed with veggies and seasoned with spices and dressings. You can have this dish as is or pair it with your full-fledged meal. Want the complete recipe? Read below.
- Why You'll Love This Lentil Salad Recipe
- Ingredients to make Mediterranean Lentil Salad
- How to Make Lentil Salad
- What to Serve with Brown Lentil Salad?
- Tips for making the Best Lentil Salad
- Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Make Ahead and Storage
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Lentil Recipes
- More Salad Recipes
- Lentil Salad
Why You'll Love This Lentil Salad Recipe
- It comes together in just 20 minutes if you have pre-cooked or canned lentils.
- Wholesome, filling, and packed with flavors
- Quick and easy to make.
- Can be made ahead of time
- Perfect for summer picnics, potlucks, and barbecues.
- Dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free
Ingredients to make Mediterranean Lentil Salad
- Lentils: I prefer to use either brown, green lentils, or French green lentils in this salad as they can hold their shape after cooking and are flavorful. I like to cook the brown lentils in the Instant Pot. You can also use canned lentils if that's what you have in hand. You will need either two cans of lentils or 3 cups of cooked brown or green lentils in this salad.
- Cucumber: I like to use English or Persian cucumbers for salads. But, you can use any type of cucumber you like.
- Bell peppers: I like to use red bell peppers because they have a sweet flavor. But feel free to use any color you like.
- Red onions: Red onion adds a bit of sweetness and crunch to the salad.
- Olive oil: Use a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
- Lime juice: Freshly squeezed lime/lemon juice is preferred for this salad. If you prefer, you can also zest half the lime for extra lemony flavor.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic tastes the best.
- Dijon Mustard: adds more tangy flavor to the dressing. But you could also use yellow mustard if that's what you have in hand.
- Fresh Herbs: Use fresh parsley (or cilantro) and mint (or dill). Make sure to chop them just before using them for maximum freshness.
- Seasoning: salt and freshly ground black pepper.
How to Make Lentil Salad
Cook the Lentils
Instant Pot Pressure cooker:
- Combine 1 cup of brown lentils with 1 ¾ cups of water (or vegetable broth), bay leaf, and salt in the instant pot insert.
- Pressure Cook on High for 6 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then release any remaining pressure before removing the lid for al dente lentils.
On Stovetop Pot
- Rinse the lentils 2-3 times under running water to remove any debris or dirt.
- In a large pot, combine 1 cup of lentils and 3 cups of water (or veggie broth) along with bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring it to a rolling boil on medium-high heat.
- Then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
- Drain any excess liquid and remove the bay leaf. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Prepare The Dressing
In a small jar, combine all dressing ingredients (olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper). Whisk to combine.
Assemble The Salad
In a large mixing bowl, place all the salad ingredients.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients.
Toss well to combine. Garnish with extra herbs, if desired.
Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
What to Serve with Brown Lentil Salad?
Tips for making the Best Lentil Salad
- One cup of dry brown lentils makes about 3 cups of cooked lentils.
- Cool the brown lentils before adding them to the salad. Otherwise, warm lentils will wilt the fresh veggies and lose their freshness.
- Use Fresh herbs, as they add so much more flavor than dried ones.
- Use good quality extra-virgin olive oil and Dijon mustard, as they will make a big difference in the flavor of the dressing.
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Cheese: Add ½ cup crumbed or cubed feta cheese just before serving for a Mediterranean touch.
- Make it Spicier: add freshly chopped jalapeño pepper or red chili flakes.
- Olives: Add kalamata olives or green olives if you desire.
- Other fresh herbs: Try dill leaves or cilantro.
- Cook Lentils in Broth: To elevate the lentil flavors in the salad, cook them in vegetable broth.
- Add nuts – Add almonds, walnuts, or pecans for some nice crunch.
Make Ahead and Storage
- Make-Ahead: You can cook lentils, prep the veggies, herbs, and dressing a day or two before serving. Store the dressing and salad ingredients in a separate container for prolonged shelf life, and assemble when you are ready to serve.
- Storage: Leftover Brown lentil salad will keep in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days when stored in an airtight container. After that, the flavors will start to fade.
Frequently Asked Questions
French green lentils, brown (whole masoor dal), or green lentils are best for salads as they hold their shape when cooked.
Yes! it is recommended to cook your brown lentils al dente as they will hold up well with the veggies in the salad. If you cook longer, lentils will get mushy.
No. You don't need to soak the brown lentils before cooking. Dry brown lentils will take about 15-20 minutes to cook on the stovetop and 6 minutes on the electric pressure cooker.
Absolutely! Make sure to rinse and drain off all the liquid to prevent the salad from getting soggy.
More Lentil Recipes
More Salad Recipes
- Chickpea Cucumber Salad
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Quinoa Black Bean Salad
- Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
- Avocado Cucumber Tomato Salad
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- 1 cup uncooked lentils (either brown, green, French green lentils)
- 1 long English cucumber finely diced
- ½ cup red bell pepper finely diced
- ½ cup onion finely diced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint chopped
How to Make Lentil Salad
Cook the Lentils
- Instant Pot Pressure Cooker:Combine 1 cup of brown lentils with 1 ¾ cups of water (or vegetable broth), bay leaf, and salt in the instant pot insert.Pressure Cook on High for 6 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes, then release any remaining pressure before removing the lid for al dente lentils.On Stovetop Pot:Rinse the lentils 2-3 times under running water to remove any debris or dirt.In a large pot, combine 1 cup of lentils and 3 cups of water (or veggie broth) along with bay leaf and a pinch of salt. Bring it to a rolling boil on medium-high heat.Then cover with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until lentils are tender.Drain any excess liquid and remove the bay leaf. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Prepare The Dressing
- In a small jar, combine all dressing ingredients (olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, dijon mustard, salt, and black pepper). Whisk to combine.
Assemble The Salad
- In a large mixing bowl, place all the salad ingredients.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients.
- Toss well to combine. Garnish with extra herbs, if desired.Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.