Lentil Salad

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This lentil salad is a delicious combination of green lentils, crisp cucumber, red onion, sweet dates, fresh herbs, and a bright lemon vinaigrette. It’s crisp, fresh, and light! It’s also durable enough to last several days in the fridge, so you can enjoy it alongside other Mediterranean recipes all week long. 

A white bowl of lentil salad.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

Lentil salad, similar to lentil soup, is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. And I’ve enjoyed many variations of lentil salad throughout Italy, Israel, and France, all with slightly different flavor profiles. Travel is such a big influence and inspiration for my recipes!

But what I love most about this cold lentil salad is that’s it’s full of plant-based protein (which keeps you full) and it’s incredibly easy to make. Just cook the lentils, toss them with a variety of veggies, then drizzle my easy lemon vinaigrette on top. And while there’s a million and one ways to make lentil salad, I’m particularly fond of the ingredient combination in this version, which highlights that the simplest ingredient can often make for the best results. 

Ingredients for lentil salad.

Lentil Salad Ingredients

This is a simple ingredient list, but I do have one tip when it comes to dicing the onion, cucumber, and dates. Try to keep them all in a uniform, very small dice. That way you can enjoy a little bit of everything with every spoonful. 

  • Lentils: Green or Lentils de Puy (French Lentils) are best. They’ll stay firm and hold their shape without going mushy as they’re being tossed around.
  • Vegetables: Finely diced cucumber and onions provide a refreshing and crisp crunch.
  • Medjool Dates: This adds a sticky sweet bite! It’s also great for using dates that may have dried out in your pantry as they’ll be easier to dice and will then soften up again with the dressing.
  • Fresh Herbs: Mediterranean recipes are all about fresh herbs. So chop up a good amount of fresh parsley for the salad. 
  • Lemon Vinaigrette: Make a batch of my lemon vinaigrette and use some on this salad, then save the remainder to use on other salads throughout the week. 

How To Make Lentil Salad

The beauty of this lentil salad is how quickly it comes together. You could even cook the lentils the night before and let them cool overnight in the fridge, then whip this up quickly the next day. 

Cook the lentils. In a medium saucepan, add the lentils, water, and bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to very low, cover the pot, and simmer for 16 to 20 minutes. The lentils should be soft but not at all mushy.

Pro tip: If you want to give your lentils an extra umami boost, add a piece of kombu seaweed to the mix. Additionally, the enzymes in kombu break down the phytic acid in lentils, which makes them more digestible!

Boiling lentils in a pot.

Assemble the salad. Drain the lentils, and chill in the fridge for a few minutes. Then add the diced cucumber, red onion, dates, and parsley. 

Lentil salad ingredients in a bowl.

Add the dressing. Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette on top and toss it all together. 

Drizzling lemon vinaigrette over lentil salad.

Common Questions

Why did I end up with mushy lentils?

Simmering at too high a heat (and having them bounce around in the pot) is usually what leads to mushy lentils. They can overcook quickly, so keep an eye on the time.

What can I use instead of dates?

You could also use dried raisins, prunes, cranberries, or cherries. Anything with a sticky sweet texture will taste great.

What do you serve with this salad?

Complete a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern dinner spread with entrees like baked salmon, baked cod, Greek lemon chicken, and chicken souvlaki. You could also serve the salad alongside falafel with tahini sauce for a vegetarian option.

A close up of lentil salad.

Storage Tips

  • To store: Place any leftovers into an airtight container. This lentil salad will stay good for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.
  • Meal prep tip: If meal prepping this salad, I recommend slightly undercooking your lentils. I usually cook my lentils for 20 minutes. And that’s fine if I plan to eat this salad immediately and all in one day. But if it sits overnight or for a few days, the lentils will absorb the dressing and soften further. So reducing the cooking time by a couple of minutes is recommended! 

More Easy Salads

I hope you enjoy this lentil salad as much as I do! If you make it, I’d love to hear how it turned out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community.

A big bowl of lentil salad.

Lentil Salad

4.97 from 32 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 serving
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

This lentil salad is crisp, fresh, and light with diced cucumber, red onion, dates, fresh herbs, and a bright lemon vinaigrette. Bonus — it's durable enough to last in your fridge for the week.

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large cucumber, finely diced
  • ½ red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup Medjool dates, finely diced
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 1 recipe Lemon Vinaigrette, (I use half in this recipe)

Instructions 

  • Cook the lentils. In a medium saucepan, add the lentils, water, and bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to very low, cover the pot, and simmer for 16 to 20 minutes. The lentils should be soft but not at all mushy.
    Cooked lentils in a pot.
  • Assemble the salad. Drain the lentils, and chill them in the fridge for a few minutes. Then, add the diced cucumber, red onion, dates, and parsley.
    Lentil salad in a bowl.
  • Add the dressing. Drizzle the lemon vinaigrette on top and toss it all together.
    A white bowl of lentil salad with a spoon.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 17mg | Potassium: 610mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 886IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: lentil recipe, lentil salad, lentils
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Originally published March 2019, but updated to include new photos and information for your benefit!

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About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

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Recipe Rating




85 Comments

  1. This is delightful – I’m eating it now with a sprinkle of feta. The dates add just the right amount of sweetness. There’s plenty left to experiment with for the next few days. I’m thinking of adding some pumpkin and/ or sunflower seeds for a little extra crunch and protein boost.
    Thanks for another easy and tasty recipe!5 stars

  2. OMG ! I’m not that big of a Lentil fan, but had a can in my Pantry. Saw the recipe and decided to make it. It was so delicious, I wish I had made more. It will now be a regular in my meal rotation.5 stars

  3. This is the best thing I’ve tasted lately! My husband doesn’t like cucumbers, so I substituted zucchini. I put it over field greens and topped with goat cheese. It was really delicious!

  4. At 71 years old, this was my first time eating Lentils. Awesome salad, and OMG that lemon vinaigrette is so good. Thanks for this recipe.
    John

  5. I have recently acquired some dried figs. Would this recipe turn out ok if I subbed dried figs for the dates?

  6. So good!!
    The longer it sits, the better it gets and I did use only 1/2 of the dressing, like you suggested so Thanks for that advice too!
    A keeper for sure <35 stars

  7. Loved this salad!! It’s very fresh and filling and versatile. I chopped up some leftover mushrooms I had and added a little feta. With the lemon vinaigrette.. SUPERB! 🤤5 stars

  8. This was fantastic! I had some avocado that needed to be used up and added it on top – otherwise made it to a T. So delish! :)5 stars

  9. Wonderfully healthy and delicious recipe. Easy to store in the fridge and eat for a quick snack during the week. Even picky family members are fans. Thanks Lisa!5 stars

  10. I admit I was disappointed when I first made this dish. It was rather time consuming to prep (dicing the dates!) and then I could barely taste them. The flavors did not come together. But the next day when I pulled it out for lunch — wow just delicious! So I would advise making it ahead by at least several hours :-)4 stars

  11. Made it today for some guest later at dinner—I ate it all in the afternoon myself. I always love lentils and also love cucumbers and the light sweetness in my version just hit the spot!5 stars

  12. Just like every other recipe by Downshiftology that I have made, this one is delicious! The vinaigrette is just right and the dates add some sweetness to my life. Thank you, Lisa.5 stars

  13. Pleasantly surprised at how great this salad was!! I was looking for a salad that was not conventional lettuce, etc. Very filling and had wonderful flavor! It was really easy to make. Your Lemon Vinaigrette was the icing on this salad!! It’s one of my new favorites!!5 stars

  14. I have noticed some comments about cooking lentils. Trader Joes has a vaccum packed, cooked, ready to go package of lentils. They are in the produce section. I have used in alot of salads and they are easy to use and taste great!

  15. I made this beauty to up my pulse intake. And because I was doing a fridge clean-out. I added pear (instead of dates), mint, walnuts, rocket and some left-over gorgonzola to the other ingredients. So so yummy! And I am sure Lisa would approve ;-). It tasted like a true downshiftology salad. Thanks Lisa for the inspiration.5 stars

  16. Delicious!! Great mix of textures and flavors. I like spice so next time I’ll try adding a bit of pickled jalapeno to the dressing. This will be a regular menu item.5 stars

  17. Hi Lisa,
    I have tried cooking lentils before but they were not tasty, so I was a bit skeptical to try this; however I have had great success with your recipes i thought why not? Well as always your recipe and tips did not disappoint, this is absolutely delicious and refreshing. I could honestly eat this at every meal, it’s that good! I had some of it with tofu, and saving the rest to have with some lamb. Thanks for all the work you and your team do, to ensure the recipes are great, and people are not wasting ingredients.  Many blessings 🙏🏽5 stars

  18. Made this and hubby raves about it to friends! No better review than that. Didn’t have Kombu but I’m looking for it because that will make it even better right? Soooo good. Thank you!5 stars

    1. If you can find kombu for next time, that would be great! Otherwise, I’m glad you and your hubby enjoyed this lentil salad :)

  19. hello! I’m wanting to make this with your falafel this week but don’t have kombu. Should I substitute something or just leave out?

  20. This was absolutely delicious. I didn’t have dates on hand so I used organic raisins instead and it was still wonderful. I bought dates the next day and added some to the leftovers and it took it up a notch. I also added a small amount of feta cheese and that gave it a new dimension of flavor. All in all a great recipe and leftovers taste amazing. Thank you for sharing this. 5 stars

  21. As an alternative to cooking the lentils, try sprouting them.   Early lentil sprouts (following an initial overnight soak and 24 hours or so of sprouting, have a very fresh, crisp, nutty flavor that I know would work with this salad . 

  22. hi Lisa, from Australia…..,thank you again for replying to the flat bread comments just making this now its 9am in australia… easter monday
    … i would like to use more lentils.. my hubby is a little resistant with incorporating them in dishes with pure plant foods.. but we are getting there… he does not like dates… is there something else i could use that is in keeping with this salad.. or just adding tomatoes ?

    1. Hi Christina – I think tomatoes would be a great addition to this salad. You could also quarter grapes if you want a sweeter bite. :)

  23. I love this recipe and I LOVE lentils! I would add some cooked mushrooms for a more “meaty” texture in a roll up!

    Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  24. OMG Lisa! I have been binge watching all of your recipes the last week and I can’t get enough of your website and recipes! I made a few over the last couple days and this lentil salad is out of this world! I love lentils but always grow up eating them stewed back in Brazil and this is for sure another amazing and different way to eat them! the falafel recipe was also incredible and this morning i made the collagen chocolate smoothie for breakfast and we all loved! thanks for the amazing work you do and lots of love from Canada!5 stars

    1. Hi Bruna – I’m so glad you enjoyed this salad, as well as everything else on Downshiftology :) Can’t wait to hear what you make next!

  25. Adding konbu is a nice touch, giving the lentil that extra umami boost. I cook Japanese dishes all the time but I have never thought of using konbu in non-Japanese recipes. :)5 stars

  26. This is an amazing salad. It’s crisp and refreshing while still being hearty and satisfying enough for a main meal. Make it. You’ll love it!5 stars

    1. Hi Jenn – The lentils definitely give you a hearty amount of protein with refreshing flavors to complement it!

  27. This lentil salad is so delicious! Perfect with the lemon vinaigrette and cucumbers! Great leftovers for my lunch the next day.5 stars

  28. OMG! I am impressed by how you cut ingredients! I love your recipe, and I am going to give it a try. I hope to get the same look and taste of the salad as yours:)5 stars

  29. A great light and filling salad. My first recipe using lentils. Still working on the cooking time so they are not mushy, but they are still good anyways,  Thank you for another great recipe!  This will be on repeat at my house!5 stars

  30. So delish! Love the combination of ingredients, it’s fresh and light yet filling. One of my favourite lunch meals in summer :)5 stars

    1. Love. Love. Love this lentil recipe. Tried it today with dried turkish tomatoes but will definitely use dates next time. So glad to find your site during lockdown. Can’t wait to try another tomorrow!5 stars

  31. Hallo from Germany,

    I really love your mealprep-style and doing mit myself in busy Werks working shifts.

    This recipy ist so delicious I just love it. The Kids i work with (with psychological) conditions live it as Well and that will mean something???

    Thanks for All those awesome informations and recepies. Im getting to a healthier me?

    Wishing you all the best?

    Sandra5 stars

  32. I made this tonight to go with a mediterranean chicken dish. It was fantastic, a huge hit! Sadly I got a bit distracted and over cooked the lentils, they were a bit mushy, but it was still very good. Wonderful flavors and textures. Thank you.5 stars

    1. Ah, I know how easy it is to get distracted in the kitchen! ;) Hopefully the lentils will come out a bit better next time, but I’m happy you loved the flavors and simplicity of it!

  33. We make this salad a lot in Turkey! It’s amazing how different cultures and cuisines have so much in common. My mom also puts balsamic vinegar in it, a little bit changes the taste so much! 5 stars

    1. That’s wonderful! And yes, love how prevalent these lentil salad recipes are in the Middle East and Mediterranean. I’m sure balsamic would be a delicious addition. Thanks for sharing!

    2. This is my all times favorite salad recipe, I make it all the time since I stumbled over it! For me it’s the perfect light meal to take to work. Its light but yet filling and super nutritious as well as easy and fast to make. The combination of flavors is just wow, loving the sweetness of the dates in combination with the lemon vinaigrette! Thanks for this gem Lisa!5 stars

      1. Hi Katharina – So glad you’ve enjoyed this salad! It really is the perfect light and healthy meal :)

      1. I’m so glad to come across this recipe! I’ve been craving this salad which we had on a plane trip from a layover in Dubai.
        I tried to figure it out but was never sure which type of lentils to buy. I think it had grapes, halved cherry tomatoes and dill included. I can’t wait to try it now.
        I believe lentils are widely used in the Middle East.
        Thank you, dear!