This basic lentil salad is bursting with flavor and loaded with plant-based protein and fiber, as well as many other vitamins and minerals. The balance of nutrients makes it a perfect meal on its own, or served as a side dish.
Are lentils part of your meal rotation?
Lentils are tiny legumes that come in a wide range of colors. They’re common in many different cuisines, but are a main staple in Indian and Middle Eastern cultures.
Though tiny, legumes are filled with loads of nutrition. A ½ cup serving of cooked lentils provides ~12 grams of plant-based protein. They are also a great source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The combination of protein and fiber is great to keep you feeling full and satisfied between meals.
Lentils are also a great source of folate, and are rich in magnesium, iron, B-vitamins and many other vitamins and minerals. They’re also inexpensive, and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes to boost the protein content.
How To Make Basic Lentil Salad
To make this basic lentil salad, you’ll need to cook all of the ingredients separately, first.
STEP #1 – Cook The Lentils
Like beans, lentils are available both canned and dried. Buying them canned is convenient if you are in a hurry, because they don’t require any additional cooking. Dried lentils will need to be cooked prior to eating or assembling this salad. The good news is, of all dried legumes, lentils cook the quickest. I prefer using the dried version, since they are lower in sodium.
Unlike beans, lentils don’t have to be soaked before cooking. They do, however, need to be thoroughly rinsed. It’s also important to sift through them, removing any stones that you find. Finding stones is rare, but it does happen. If you find them, toss them prior to cooking.
To cook the lentils, simmer them in a pot of water until they are tender. They take about 1 hour to cook, but the exact time depends on the type of lentil you are using. You can follow the instructions on the package for more precise cooking instructions.
In general, one cup of dried lentils will yield 2 – 2 ½ cups of cooked. Any dried lentils that you don’t use should be out in an air-tight container and stored in a cool, dry place.
One they finish cooking, drain them in a colander and run them under cold water. Then transfer them to a large bowl, to further cool.
STEP #2 – Corn The Corn
I use frozen corn for this recipe, but if you prefer, you can substitute it with canned. Just know that the sodium content of the final salad will be higher than what is listed in the nutrition facts. Canned corn is pre-cooked, so it does not require any additional cooking. If you use canned corn, rinse and drain it first, then combine it with the lentils.
I prefer to use frozen corn, to keep the sodium content down. To cook frozen corn, put it in a microwave safe dish with ~2 tablespoons of water. Cover and steam for ~10 minutes, or until corn is cooked. Add the cooked corn to the bowl of lentils.
STEP #3 – Prepare The Kidney Beans
Contrary to the corn, I use canned beans for this recipe. You can use dried beans, if you prefer. If you do, they will need to soak and cook prior to assembling the salad.
If using canned kidney beans, open a can, then dump them into a colander to rinse and drain. Add beans to the corn and lentils.
STEP #4 – Chop The Parsley
Rinse a bunch of fresh parsley, then chop on a cutting board. Add ¼ cup to the bowl of beans, lentils and corn. Gently toss.
STEP #5 – Make The Dressing
In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper together. Drizzle dressing over salad ingredients and gently stir.
STEP #6 – Refrigerate
Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then transfer to the refrigerator. Chill salad to allow flavored to blend and the dressing to absorb into the beans and lentils.
This recipe is kept simple for those that are not as comfortable in the kitchen, but don’t be afraid to get creative and add your own favorite flavors. You can enjoy this cold salad at home or take it with you for a balanced meal on the go.
Nutrition In Basic Lentil Salad
This recipe makes 6 cups of basic lentil salad. I set the serving size at 3/4 cup, which is enough for a snack, or side dish to a meal.
One serving provides 250 calories, 36 grams of carbohydrate, 10 grams of protein and 8 g fat. It’s a great source of fiber, providing per serving.
If you use dried lentils, frozen corn and dried beans, as I do, one serving will provide mg of sodium. If you used canned corn, the sodium content will be higher. Using dried beans will lower the sodium content.
This salad also provides a wide range of vitamin and minerals, such as folate, calcium, potassium and 15% of the daily value of iron.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think.
Basic Lentil Salad
- 1 cup Green Lentils (dried)
- 1 15 ounce Dark Red Kidney Beans (drained and dried)
- 14 ounce Frozen Corn (steamed)
- 1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1/4 cup Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar (high quality makes a difference)
- 2 tsp White Sugar
- Dash of Salt and Pepper for Taste
- Cook lentils according to package; rinse and drain in colander. Transfer lentils to a large bowl and let cool.
- Put frozen corn in a microwave safe dish with ~2 tbsp. water. Cover and steam for ~10 minutes or until corn is cooked. Transfer to the bowl of lentils
- Put canned kidney beans in a strainer and rinse then add to the corn and lentils.
- Chop the parsley, then add to the corn and lentils. Toss gently.
- In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper together.
- Drizzle dressing over salad ingredients and gently stir. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, refrigerate until salad is completely chilled.
- Recipe Makes: 6 cups of lentil salad
- Serving Size: 3/4 cup
- Servings Per Recipe: 8
- Nutrition Facts (per serving): 250 calories, 36 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber, 10 g protein, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 4% DV for calcium, 15% DV iron, 6% DV potassium.
- Meal Planning Servings: 2.5 CHO; 1.5 PRO; 1.5 FAT