Summertime is all about barbecues, dinner parties, and light and fresh meals. This fresh lentil salad is a perfect make-ahead meal for a crowd, and also a unique variation of traditional salad.
With a protein-rich lentil base, this salad is heartier and more satiating than lettuce-based salads, but still has the flavours that we all love in a fresh salad-sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, sweet red bell peppers, carrots, all tossed in a refreshing olive oil and lemon vinaigrette.
I love lentils. In fact, I love all legumes.
It’s a good thing I have such an appreciation for them because ever since I became vegetarian, they are practically all I eat.
Why do I love lentils so much?
For starters, they are healthy for you. They have a high nutritional value, help reduce blood cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels, and they are an excellent source of protein, which makes them an ideal meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians
Secondly, they are a blank canvas, in terms of condiment options. Just like rice, this tiny legume soaks up flavours like it’s nobody’s business, lending a rich punch of flavour to any dish.
The most important tip I can give in terms of preparation is to ensure that the lentils are cooked al dente-meaning they should still have a little bite to them. No one wants a mushy lentil salad, do they?
This recipe lends well to interpretation so if by chance you’re not a fan of lentils, you can substitute them with navy beans, chickpeas or another legume. Use your imagination and add a combination of your favourite ingredients, such as arugula, kale, spinach, avocado, celery, and fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or cilantro.
This fresh lentil salad makes a great dinner party salad since it appeals to vegans and non-vegans. Just prepare a large batch ahead of time then separate into two portions, throwing in some extras for the non-vegans, such as tuna, mozzarella, or feta cheese.
On a side note, if preparing a large batch for the week, I recommend adding the tomatoes and cucumbers right before serving. They tend to release water the longer they sit and this result in a somewhat soggy salad.
If you try this recipe (and love it!) be sure to snap a pic and tag me onInstagram with #bitesforfoodies so I can see your creation!
Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the lentils and cook for 25-20 minutes or until al dente. The lentils should be soft on the outside with a slight bite on the outside.
Drain the lentils in a large colander then set aside to cool. In the meantime, chop the cucumbers, carrots, scallions, capers, and tomatoes.
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl then add the olive oil and lemon juice. Adjust seasoning before serving, if desired.
Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days (minus the tomatoes and cucumbers).