Whole Living Daily

Meatless Monday: Best-Ever Lentil Salad

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I don’t often cook the same thing twice.

It could be because I get bored eating the same thing over and over; it could be because I like experimenting too much to pass up an opportunity of creating something new; it could be because I am just too lazy to follow a recipe.

All that aside, there are a few things that play on repeat in my kitchen, and this lentil salad, my friends, is one of the select few. That means I really like it. As soon as picnic season picks up, make this your go-to dish; it travels well and only gets better after a day or so of marinating.

What makes a pile of lentils so special, you ask? For starters, the flavors of this dish are outstanding, yet unexpected. Essentially you make your own curry powder with a pungent blend of spices: a colorful, lip-smackingly tasty, and totally addictive combination.

What's more, this salad uses a very special legume: the Du Puy lentil, sometimes referred to as “poor man’s caviar.” Du Puys are smaller than green or brown lentils, and are revered for their ability to retain their shape and texture once cooked. Green, brown, and red lentils are great in soups --- they're soft, mushy, and tend to fall apart --- but less-than-perfect for salad. You can find these lovely legumes at any quality grocery store, natural food, or health food store, just make sure they say Du Puy; otherwise, they're a French lentil knockoff. Sacré bleu!

For the Love of Lentils
Lentils are a great legume for impatient people! They cook in a short time and require no pre-soaking like other pulses do.
Low in calories and virtually fat-free, lentils are packed with fiber and, therefore, fill you up.

In addition to providing the body with slow-burning complex carbs, lentils also increase energy by replenishing the body with iron. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with lentils is a smart idea, especially because unlike iron-rich red meat, lentils are lean.

Just one cup of cooked lentils also provides you with almost the entire daily recommended intake of folate, a vital vitamin for child-bearing women because they prevent birth defects. Folate also supports red blood cell production and helps prevent anemia, allows nerves to function properly, and staves off osteoporosis-related bone fractures and dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

Not bad for a little lentil, eh?

The Best-Ever Lentil Salad

2 ¼ cups (1 lb.) Du Puy lentils, rinsed and drained
1 medium red onion, diced
1 cup dried currants (you can also use raisins or other dried fruit)
1/3 cup capers

1/3 cup cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground coriander
½  tsp ground cardamom
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins:
Fresh goat cheese
Fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, cilantro, or basil
Crispy seasonal veggies


1. In a pot, bring lentils to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until al dente, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and run under cold water. Once cooled slightly, place lentils in a large serving bowl.

2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing: Placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.

3. Toss lentils with dressing. Add onion, currants, and capers. Add optional ingredients, such as herbs, greens, and cheese, just before serving.

This salad can hang out in the fridge for a couple days.

Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.

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Comments (12)

  • Thanks for sharing the lentil salad. On a related note, I would love to know how the Whole Foods in Ft Lauderdale makes their lentil burgers. I saved the list of ingredients: lentils, potatoes, chickpea flour, peas, oil, cilantro, lemon juice, chili, ginge, garlic, curry powder, salt, cumin, pepper. I try to avoid soy and gluten, which these burgers avoid both, and although I'd rather have brown rice than potatoes, these readymade burgers are absolutely delicious. They were actually moist and 'meaty'. They are not available in my Whole Foods closer to home (Baltimore). Thanks for any tips you can share.

  • This sounds great, but it takes lots of spices. Sometimes, I wish the recipes were simpler. (I'm on a tight budget)

  • This salad was the reason that I became friends with Sarah way back in Nutrition School. It is so delicious and easy to make. Don't get intimidated by the amount of ingredients. This one is a keeper (just like Sarah!)

  • That lentil salad looks great. We have made something similar on many occasions with a vinegar mustard vinaigrette. I like the addition of the spice blend. We will have to give it a try.

  • I just wanted to give a tip to Susie, who wrote above about the concern about having to buy too many spices:
    Buy your spices at the bulk food store, or a health food store that sells their spices in bulk. That way you can buy just a little of each at a time, and it costs just a few cents. (cause I agree, going out and buying jars or packages of spices is pricey and wasteful)

  • When you're eating this way all the time you never waste spices... i use them every day. the initial investment costs less than feeding your family a McD's breakfast. People really need to start thinking long-term and stop getting overwhelmed by short-term "complexity". If you think Sarah's recipes have too many ingredients then you haven't looked on the label of an average carton of processed food or junk food recently.

  • [...] Class on DVR enjoy a sunday afternoon yin yoga class create next week’s meal plan with a few new recipes take a nap, or a bubble bath, or do [...]

  • Looks like an excellent recipe - can't wait to try it. I do have an issue with your comments, however.

    ". . . folate, a vital vitamin for child-bearing women because they prevent birth defects."

    First, NOTHING can PREVENT birth defects - all we can do is reduce the risk of having them. Second, adequate folate intake has been shown to reduce the risk of a particular class of birth defects called neural tube defects, of which spina bifida is the most well known. There is no indication that folate affects any other type of birth defect.

  • I was excited to see the number of spices called for in this recipe, as I feel like I've been ignoring my spice rack lately! The dressing is fabulous: rich, complex and with the hearty lentils, it's certainly a dish worthy of entrée status. I altered the measurements a tad and added radicchio, watercress, walnuts and figs to mine. I ate this over a bed of tri-colored quinoa and will be enjoying it for the rest of the week!

  • [...] French du Puy lentils in salads. Then Sarah posted it a second time this spring for her stint at Martha Stewart, and her friend [...]

  • Wow. Just wow. I am eating this right now! I made a warm version of this (because this is Boston and it's cold) by sauteeing the onion, adding shredded carrots and baby spinach, and then warming the Trader Joe's steamed lentils (I admit to being lazy).

    I was a little leery of the dressing: it was nothing like Italian! but it really really (really) makes a great compliment.

    You need the currants, and you need the capers, to meld the dressing.

    I have made myself happy by making this! Yay for Sarah Britton and her blog, My New Roots!

  • yummy!!!

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