Amidst our permitted trips to the market right now, I’m trying to get a bit creative with what’s already in the cupboards to keep us fed, healthy, and happy! Lentils are no surprise here – these legumes last forever, don’t they? – but this warm lentil salad will give you a new appreciation for the pantry staple!
Lentils were something we didn’t eat much of growing up. And I honestly don’t remember when I first discovered and fell in love with them. I know the first recipe I made was this one pot lentil soup, which was about ten years ago when we were living in Oakland.
If you’re ever in need of a hearty, healthy option – you absolutely have to make that soup and then this warm lentil salad…
Warm Lentil Salad
I love the simplicity of this warm lentil salad. While the lentils are simmering on your stovetop, prep the veggies and then roast them in the oven. Combine it all together with some great olive oil and seasonings! And you have yourself a delicious salad and side dish.
And on the topic of leftovers (because for once we’re all hoping for leftovers to make it through, right?)… this salad could be used a few different ways…
It’d be delicious warmed in tacos (especially with eggs for breakfast tacos). You could even add roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes – talk about a major meal (morning or night).
It’d also be great as a salad topping. It’s kind of weird to think that salad leftovers would be good atop another salad, but it’s delicious. Lentils are great as an added source of fiber and protein in pretty much any dish you can imagine!!
What Veggies Go with Lentils?
While lentils are healthy and tasty (at least to me) on their own, they’re really so much better when paired with other produce.
To make this recipe simple, I roasted onions and bell peppers. But depending upon what’s in season, you really can enjoy this dish year round.
Fall Lentil Recipe
In fall, this onion and pepper setup is good. You can also add in roasted squash – butternut would be great. Or like in this wild rice pilaf, roasted sweet potato would add a nice natural sweetness. Mushrooms would really make this dish hearty too!
Winter Lentil Recipe
In winter, onions are obvious, but roasted cauliflower or broccoli would be a natural pairing. I think with all the earthiness, so crumbled goat cheese, feta, or cotija would be good.
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Spring Lentil Recipe
In spring, you could easily add roasted radishes, peas, or roasted asparagus. Those delicate spring flavors are really a lovely combination with the lentils.
Summer Lentil Recipe
Anything! I know that’s a cop out, but the bright, light summer produce flavors are all wonderful with lentils. Sauteed zucchini are bell peppers tasty. You can also add a level of crunch with some sliced cucumbers, a pop of flavors with cherry tomatoes, and, of course, all the fresh herbs!
I will also note here, that earthy salads like this one, are often tasty with the addition of fruit. Whether you do strawberries in the spring and summer or dried fruit (like dried apricot in this kale farro salad) in fall and winter – it’s the perfect combo of sweetness.
Just like my recommendation for a combination of textures in my salad topping list, your approach to this warm lentil salad should be the same.
Do You Need to Rinse Lentils?
So the jury seems to be divided on whether or not to rinse lentils. The reason for rinsing beans is usually to wash off any dirt and rinse away sulfur (what causes gas).
Lentils don’t contain sulfur, so you should be good on that front (look, a science lesson to boot!).
You SHOULD, however, give your lentils the once over (with or without a rinse) to look for any shriveled or dark beans and small rocks. There’s nothing unsafe about any of this, just not enjoyable to crunch down on while you’re eating.
Other Lentil Recipes
Need more plant based recipes? This broccoli pasta with cashew sauce is such a yummy dish. This lime & cilantro quinoa-stuffed sweet potatoes is a great dish to serve on the side or with a grain. It’s yummy warm just after cooking or leftover! And there these this hummus roasted veggie vegan wrap that’s a great make-ahead lunch!
LENTIL SIDE DISH
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf, garlic clove, or other seasoning
- ¼-3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large red bell pepper cored and sliced
- 1 medium yellow onion peeled and sliced
- 2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 ½ cups cooked lentils still warm
- Fine sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- Flaked smoked sea salt
- Combine lentils, water, and seasoning in small saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Bring lentils to a rapid simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered 20-30 minutes, maintaining water level just covering beans.
- Lentils are done when they are soft but not mushy. Strain lentils and seasoning. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and add until desired flavor is reached.
- Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Spread the red pepper and onion slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with ½ tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of fine sea salt and black pepper. Toss to coat and spread back into a single layer.
- Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables soften and edges begin to brown slightly.
- Add the lentils to a large bowl. Drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the roasted vegetables. Toss to mix well. Season with about ¼ teaspoon flaked smoked sea salt and a pinch of black pepper, or more to taste. Serve warm.