This Lentil Salad is a show-stopper! With flavorful layers to dig into, this is one of those salads you’d easily find on a restaurant menu, yet it’s so simple to make at home. Atop a bed of salted massaged kale sits perfectly tender and nutrient-rich lentils, and over those you get a bed of colorful roasted veggies. A topping of roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and feta adds so much more texture and flavor while a simple homemade Maple-Dijon vinaigrette brings it all together. This is one epic salad you could enjoy as a main dish on its own or as a side dish to complement your favorite cooked protein.
This post was created in partnership with the Northern Pulse Growers Association.
This healthy salad conjures harvest flavors and real-food ingredients that are reminiscent of the Mediterranean diet.
- A well-rounded salad that contains many different food groups and all essential nutrients
- Featuring tender, easy-cook lentils for added plant-based protein and fiber
- A stunning salad that’s perfect for entertaining and adding variety to weeknights
- If desired, easily add your favorite cooked protein, such as chicken, pork chops, steak, or seafood
Ingredients To Make This Lentil Salad Recipe
Here’s what to gather to make this epic and flavorful salad today:
- Sweet potato – this deep orange veggie is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C; you’ll need 2 cups diced
- Brussels sprouts
- Red onion – may sub a yellow onion or thin strips of red bell pepper
- Garlic cloves – you’ll need 3 cloves to split between the roasted veggies and the vinaigrette
- Green lentils – may sub brown lentils, red lentils, black lentils, French lentils, or beluga lentils, or use canned lentils (that you rinse and drain first) to make this hearty salad even faster
- Curly kale – we prefer kale as the base of this salad since it stands up well over time, but may sub arugula
- Roasted pumpkin seeds – we prefer roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) in this salad; may sub sunflower seeds
- Chopped pecans – may sub walnuts or pistachios, or omit for nut-free
- Dried cherries – may sub dried cranberries or snipped dried apricots
- Crumbled feta – adds creamy texture, salty flavor, and bit of calcium; may sub goat cheese crumbles, blue cheese, or Parmesan cheese, or omit for a dairy-free salad
- Avocado oil or olive oil
- Apple cider vinegar – may sub red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- Pure maple syrup – may sub honey
- Dijon mustard – may sub brown mustard
- Fresh thyme – may sub dried thyme or sub dried or fresh cilantro or fresh mint
- Fine salt and black pepper
For the complete directions and ingredient amounts, scroll down to the recipe card below. All of our recipes include the nutrition information, listing kcal, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium, total fat, and more per serving.
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How To Make Lentil Salad with Roasted Veggies
This layered lentil recipe comes together in five distinct steps:
- Make the roasted vegetables: Roast the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onion, and garlic until the veggies are slightly golden brown on the edges.
- Cook the lentils: While the vegetables are roasting, cook the lentils on the stovetop. See our tip below for how to easily cook perfect lentils every time that are not mushy.
- Toast the pecans: Toasted pecans adds so much delicious texture to this great salad – don’t skip this quick step!
- Make the vinaigrette: This is an easy whisk-it or shake-it homemade vinaigrette recipe that you can prepare ahead of time.
- Assemble the salad: The final step is to massage the curly kale leaves then build the layers of the salad over top. You’ll want to assemble the salad just before serving.
Tip! How To Cook Lentils (It’s Easy!)
Making cooked lentils from dried lentils is so easy! Start by combining 1/2 cup of uncooked lentils and 1 1/2 cups of broth or cold water in a medium saucepan over medium high-heat (if using water, add a pinch of kosher salt). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, uncovered, or until lentils are tender and to your liking.
Now you can enjoy the cooked lentils as a nutritious side dish or add them to recipes. We love to use lentils in recipes of all types, such as this lentil salad, as well as lentil soup, lentil meatballs, and lentil casserole.
This Salad Dressing Is Seriously So Good
This Maple-Dijon salad dressing has quite the following! People tell us that they even find themselves licking the bowl. It’s a simple vinaigrette that you can make easily by whisking the dressing ingredients in a bowl or shaking all of the ingredients together in a jar with a lid. The combination of healthy avocado or extra virgin olive oil, tangy vinegar and Dijon mustard, plus sweet maple syrup or honey tastes great with a variety of dishes, from this Harvest Sheet Pan Dinner to these Chipotle Chicken Thighs with Broccoli to these Grilled Honey Garlic Pork Chops. We also love to drizzle this dressing over roasted veggies, for dipping English cucumber slices or cherry tomatoes, and to make any salad just that much better.
When To Serve This Flavorful Lentil Salad
Like we said above, this lentil salad recipe is a show stopper! For that reason, it can be a wonderful recipe to share when entertaining, and also something to make your regular weeknights more delicious and nutritious. Try serving this Lentil Salad at:
- Cool-weather gatherings and potlucks
- Thanksgiving and holiday dinners
- When entertaining at home
- For weeknight dinners, with or without added chicken, steak, or seafood
- As a meal prep lunch – add some pita wedges, if desired
Frequently Asked Questions
This salad has many good-for-you and flavorful ingredients, but the star of this recipe is the tender cooked lentils, which provide great taste as well as plant-based protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, diced red onion, mushrooms, spinach and other greens, tomatoes, and carrots are all veggies often paired with lentils.
Lentils pair well with a variety of flavors, from deep and smoky spices such as chili powder and cumin to more bright herbs, such as fresh mint. Try cooking lentils in broth with a bay leaf to infuse them with flavor or tossed cooked lentils with a Greek vinaigrette or lemon dressing.
It takes 20 minutes to cook dried lentils on the stovetop.
Lentils are not a grain, they are a type of legume called a pulse.
Yes, you can cook the lentils for this lentil salad ahead of time. Store the cooked lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before assembling the salad.
Yes, there are several salad ingredients that you can prep ahead of time. You can roast the veggies, cook the lentils, and make the vinaigrette ahead of time. Store those components in separate air-tight containers for up to 3 days before assembling this lentil salad recipe. We recommend waiting to assemble the salad until just before serving it.
For the Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 medium sweet potatoes (8-10 ounces), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes (2 cups)
- 8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half (2 cups)
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced (1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoons)
- 1½ tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Lentils:
- 1/2 cup uncooked green lentils
- 1 ½ cups broth or water
For the Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette:
- ¼ cup avocado or olive oil
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced (1 ½ teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme)
- Pinch of salt and pepper, or to taste
For the Salad:
- 4 cups chopped curly kale leaves, stems removed, loosely packed
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted (omit for nut free)
- ½ cup dried cherries and/or dried cranberries (we like a mix)
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (may sub goat cheese crumbles, blue cheese, or Parmesan cheese, or omit for dairy-free and vegan)
- Make the roasted vegetables: Preheat the oven to 375℉ degrees. Add the sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, onion, and garlic to a baking pan. Toss with oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden brown on the edges. Allow the vegetables to cool for 15-20 minutes before adding to the salad.
- Cook the lentils: while the vegetables are roasting, cook the lentils. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat combine the lentils and broth or water. If using water, add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Toast the pecans: Add the pecans to a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the pecans for 6-8 minutes or until pecans give off a nutty aroma, tossing occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl or small food processor, combine the oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine and set aside.
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl add the kale with a pinch of salt. Massage the kale for about 1 minute. Then add the lentils, roasted vegetables, pumpkin seeds, dried cherries and feta. Add the vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Top the salad with additional feta, pumpkin seeds, pecans, and dried cherries if you desire.
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Make-Ahead: There are several components of this salad that you can prep ahead of time. You can roast the veggies, cook the lentils, and make the vinaigrette ahead of time. Store those components in separate air-tight containers for up to 3 days before assembling this lentil salad recipe. We recommend waiting to assemble the salad until just before serving it.
Leftovers: Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe (or about 3/4 cup)
- Calories: 272
- Fat: 16 g
- (Sat Fat: 3 g)
- Sodium: 318 mg
- Carbohydrate: 25 g
- (Fiber: 6 g
- Sugar: 9 g)
- Protein: 8 g
- Cholesterol: 5 mg
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The photos in the post were taken by Monica Stevens Le.
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