This healthy Lentil Salad with cooked lentils and diced carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, parsley, and lemon juice is perfect for making ahead for lunch as the flavors only get better overnight.
I love warm lentils, like in my Chicken and Lentil Soup and Lentils and Rice with Eggs and Bacon, but I was never really a fan of lentils in a salad (I’m a picky legume eater). But that all changed years ago when I bought a cold lentil salad at a health food store. I enjoyed everything about it – except for the high price. Lentils are so affordable to cook at home, so I knew I had to try making the salad myself. My homemade version was a fraction of the cost of the store-bought one, so save your money, and make this salad ASAP! It’s also vegan, high in fiber and protein, and only about 100 calories per serving.
What is lentil salad made of?
- Lentils: Brown lentils cook with bay leaf and fresh thyme. Green or black lentils would also work, and canned lentils are fine if you’re in a hurry. If you don’t love lentils, make it with any legume or grain, such as white beans, chickpeas, quinoa, or a mix.
- Vegetables: This salad recipe calls for celery, bell pepper, and carrots, but feel free to use whatever you have. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, chopped baby spinach, and celery would all work.
- Onion: Swap red onion for shallots or scallions.
- Herbs: Sub fresh basil, mint, or chives for parsley.
- Dressing: Add the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper directly to the lentil mixture – no need to whisk separately. You can also substitute the lemon juice for red wine or white wine vinegar.
How to Cook Lentils for Lentil Salad
Lentils cook much quicker than dry beans. Plus, you don’t have to soak them before cooking.
- Combine the lentils, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan.
- Cover the lentils with an inch of water. Don’t add salt to the water at this point or they will take much longer to cook.
- Bring the lentils to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 16 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaf.
Lentil Salad Meal Prep
This cold lentil salad recipe makes a lot, so you’ll get a few meals out of it. It lasts in the fridge for three days and is perfect as leftovers for lunch. If you’re looking for more meal prep salads with legumes, try my Black Bean, Avocado, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad and Fiesta Bean Salad.
More Lentil Recipes You’ll Love:
- 1 cup dry brown lentils, *
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 cup finely diced carrots
- 1/3 cup finely diced celery
- 1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan combine lentils, bay leaf, and thyme.
- Add enough water to cover by 1 inch.
- Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 16 to 20 minutes.
- Drain lentils and discard bay leaf and thyme.
- Place in a large work bowl with carrots, celery, red pepper, red onion, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Toss to combine and serve chilled or room temperature.
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