Full of earthy flavors, spinach, olives, mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, and red wine vinegar. A fueling lentil salad that's very tasty and nutritious.
A lentil salad that's so filling that can be served as a main course for lunch or dinner. It's also a great option to pack for a work lunch. It's one of those salads that feel light but won't leave you hungry.
Table Of Contents
This healthy lentil salad is packed with all the good stuff. Fresh spinach, mushrooms, red peppers, cucumbers, and Kalamata olives. It's flavored with dried oregano (preferably Greek), and fresh dill.
The dressing is very light and fresh, made with extra virgin olive oil red wine vinegar, and a small amount of lemon juice.
For this healthy lentil salad recipe, I am using brown lentils but you can also use green or French green lentils.
As for the mushrooms, oyster mushrooms or brown mushrooms work best for this lentil salad recipe as they add extra earthiness to its flavor.
How To Make Lentil Salad
Cooking Tasty Lentils
To make a really tasty lentil salad, cook the lentils together with some red onion and a bay leaf first. This ensures the lentils themselves absorb some flavor right to their core. Instead of just boiling them in plain water.
Lentils don't take long to cook. Simmering for 20-25 minutes is usually enough time. Though that will depend on the variety and age of the lentils. Try not to overcook the lentils when using them for a salad. The texture of the salad won't be as nice if the lentils are mushy.
Cook The Mushrooms & Pepper
Cooking some of the veggies before adding them to a salad adds so much extra flavor to it. And in this case mushrooms and sweet red peppers.
To cook the mushrooms dice them, and toss in a very hot pan with olive oil. The trick here is to let the mushrooms brown as much as possible and even get a kinda crisp texture. This way they will make the salad so much more flavorful.
As for the pepper, what tastes better than a roast red pepper? Simply slice it in half and seed it. Then toss it in the same pan after removing the mushrooms and roast it for a few minutes until charred but not softened. We want it to remain nice and crisp for our salad. Once the pepper has cooled, dice it into small pieces.
Mix Everything Together
Add the lentils along with the remaining ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, dry oregano, and lemon juice in a small bowl or cup, and then pour in the bowl as well. Mix everything to combine well. Ideally, leave the salad in the fridge for about an hour or two, for the flavors to bind together.
What Flavours Go Well With Lentils
All kinds of earthy flavours go well with lentils. For Greeks, the most favorite flavor pairings for lentils are dried oregano, red onion, extra virgin olive oil (which adds a nutty flavor), and red wine vinegar. As you can see in this old-fashioned Greek lentil soup recipe.
But other ingredients that go best with lentils are sun-dried tomatoes, tahini, walnuts, mushrooms, greens like spinach or kale, sweet potatoes, oranges, beetroot and so much more.
But other than earthy flavors anchovies and salmon are two fish that go very nicely with lentils.
So you can substitute ingredients in this lentil salad from the ones mentioned above. For example, If you don't have Kalamata olives, you can add anchovies or smoked salmon instead to give that salinity.
Or you can swap spinach for kale or even rocket. And instead of mushrooms, you can add some sauteed sweet potatoes, and a few orange slices (because they pair so well with sweet potatoes). And I could go on and on making suggestions for this lentil salad as the possibilities are quite endless!
What To Serve With
Healthy Lentil Salad Recipe (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
For The Lentils:
- 1 cup brown lentils (or green, or French green lentils)
- 50 grams (½ small) red onion minced
- 1 bay leaf
For The Salad:
- 170 grams (6 ounce) mushrooms (oyster or brown mushrooms) diced 1 cm ¼ inch thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 100 grams (3.5 ounce) long sweet red pepper sliced in half and seeded
- 50 grams (2 cups) small, tender fresh spinach leaves chunky chopped (or whole baby spinach leaves)
- 140 grams (5 ounce) English cucumber peeled and diced 1 cm ¼ inch thick
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill
- 30 grams (1 ounce) pitted Kalamata olives chopped
For The Dressing:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
Prepare The Lentils:
- Cook the lentils. Add them to a small cooking pot along with 3 cups of water, onion, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then drop heat to low cover and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes. Or until lentils are tender but not mushy.
- Drain and rinse the lentils in a strainer. Discard the bay leaf.
Prepare The Salad:
- Cook the mushrooms. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat until it's smokey hot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and immediately (but carefully) toss in the mushrooms. Cook for 5-6 minutes shaking the pan and flipping the mushrooms often until they are well browned and almost dry and crisp.
- Cool the mushrooms on a plate.
- Roast the pepper. In the same pan add the red pepper. Roast for 2-3 minutes. Then add it to a cutting board and let it cool. When it's cool enough to handle dice it the same size as that of the mushrooms.
Prepare The Dressing:
- Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small mixing bowl and whisk well.
Mix The Salad:
- In a large mixing bowl combine the lentils, red pepper, mushrooms, cucumber, spinach, olives, dill, and the dressing. Stir well with a spoon and serve. Or leave the salad for 1-2 hours in the fridge for a stronger flavor. Enjoy!