This Mediterranean lentil salad is healthy and very easy to make. Loaded with delicious vegetables, this vegetarian salad is perfect for lunch.
Nothing beats a large bowl of fresh and delicious salad. Fortunately, Mediterranean cuisine has so many tasty salads that are delicious, fresh and easy to make. Be sure to check out our Mediterranean style salads such as Greek salad, cucumber tomato feta salad and our famous tabouli salad that vanishes every time it comes to the table!
A healthy salad with lentils
Today I'm going to show you how to make Mediterranean lentil salad with hearty lentils and just a few vegetables. This is an easy salad that you can have as a side dish or simply as a light lunch.
There are a few reasons that I think this healthy lentil salad should be on your meal plan:
- It's vegan and makes a perfect meal or side dish for any vegan friends that you're going to have over for dinner.
- This salad is perfect for meal prep. You can make a big batch and enjoy it through the week.
- It's extremely versatile and you can add or leave out any ingredient you see here.
- This healthy salad is flavored with a delicious oregano lemon dressing that's so easy to make and gives this homemade lentil salad so much flavor.
What goes into cold lentil salad
To make this easy cold lentil salad, you need the following ingredients:
- Lentils: You need to cook the lentils before making the salad. Luckily, lentils don't take much to cook.
- Red onion: I prefer red onion to white or yellow onion to use in salads since they have milder flavor.
- Olives: You can use both green or black olives. I love using kalamata or Turkish black olives. I suggest you ditch the canned olives and get the jarred ones or, even better, shop for olives at the Mediterranean bar of your local supermarket.
- Cucumbers: As always, I go for Persian or mini cucumbers since they are more flavorful and don't have big seeds.
- Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes work well for this recipe. Use firm tomatoes so you can chop them easily.
- Parsley: Both flat leaf or curly parsley would work in this recipe.
- Dill: Fresh dill would be perfect for this Greek lentil salad. However, you can also use one tablespoon dried dill if needed.
When it comes to making salads, I try to use the freshest ingredients I can find since vegetables are going to be used raw and need to have great quality and taste. You can shop for organic veggies or visit your local farmers market for good vegetables.
What kind of lentils work best for salad?
Lentils come in so many colors, shapes and sizes. The typical green lentils would work well for this recipe since they hold they're shape and are easy to stir and mix. You can find green lentils at any supermarket. Read more about different types of lentils on The Kitchn.
Are lentils gluten free?
Since lentils are allowed by law to contain a certain percentage of foreign grain such as rye and wheat, it's important to check the packaging to make sure they are gluten free, meaning they have less than 20 ppm of gluten. If you eat gluten free or you are gluten intolerant, please make sure to check the packaging before making a purchase.
How to cook lentils for lentil salad
What I love about lentils is taht they cook fast and they keep well in the fridge. You can make a large batch of lentils ahead of time and use them in different recipes. To cook lentils, place them in a sauce pan and rinse them a few times with cold water. Pour enough water to cover the lentils and add one teaspoon salt to the water.
Bring the lentils to a rolling boil and simmer covered until they are completely cooked. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the excess water and let them cool before adding them to the salad.
To make lentil salad, simply chop all the veggies and mix them with the cooked lentils. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and give it a nice stir. Serve immediately or refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve cold.
How can I know if the lentils are cooked?
Cooked lentils are easy to chew and you can mash them easily. If the lentils are hard, they need to be cooked more. In that case, add more water to the lentils and keep cooking them.
Can I use canned lentils?
Technically, you can use canned lentils. However, my personal preference is to use lentils that I cook at home since I know there are no preservatives or additives added to the lentils.
Lemon oregano dressing
The dressing I make for this green lentil salad what makes this salad absolutely delicious because of the tanginess of lemon and earthiness of dried oregano. All you need to do is to mix lemon juice, oregano, sumac, cayenne pepper and salt in a small jar, pour it over the salad and give it a toss.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Since we use fresh tomatoes and cucumbers in this cold lentil salad recipe, I suggest you make this salad on the day you would like to serve it. If you want to save time, cook the lentils and store them in an airtight container for the week and whenever you're ready to eat, simply chop up whatever vegetables you have at hand and mix with the lentils. You can also make the dressing in advance and just give it a shake before adding it to the salad.
Additions to Greek lentil salad
You can add other ingredients such as cheese and different vegetables to this easy and quick lentils salad. Some of my favorite additions are:
- Red or yellow bell peppers
- Feta cheese
- Grilled halloumi cheese
- Sun-dried tomatoes
What to serve with lentil salad
This cold lentil salad can be served as a nice side dish to different dishes such as Mediterranean chicken, beef shish kabob or baked dijon salmon. You can also have it as a light lunch or dinner on its own or with a slice of crusty bread such as sourdough.
How to store this Mediterranean lentil salad
Since this hearty lentil salad contains tomatoes and cucumbers, it's best to have it right away. However, you can also store leftovers in an airtight glass container for up to two days. I don't suggest freezing this salad because of the fresh vegetables.
Can I freeze lentils?
Absolutely! Lentils freeze so well and you can use them any time you want. Portion the cooked lentils out and divide them between freezer safe bags. You can freeze lentils for up to two months. To use them in salads, it's best to thaw them in the fridge overnight or simply defrost them in the microwave.
Looking for more lentil recipes?
Tools and recipes used to make this recipe:
Mediterranean Lentil Salad Recipe
- 1 ½ cup green lentils rinsed
- 1 red onion chopped
- ½ cup olives Green or kalamata
- 2 Persian cucumbers chopped
- 2 Roma tomatoes diced
- ½ cup parsley chopped
- ½ cup dill chopped
Lemon oregano dressing
- 1 lemon juice of
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sumac
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- Place the lentils in a sauce pan and pour enough water to cover the lentils. Add 1 tsp salt and place the sauce pan over medium heat. Bring it to a rolling boil and cover. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are completely cooked. You know they're cooked when they're easy to chew.
- Once the lentils are cooked, drain and discard the excess water and let the lentils cool completely.
- In a large bowl mix cooled lentils with red onion, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and dill.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and give it a nice stir to make sure all the ingredients are well combined.
- Serve immediately or chill in the fridge for a few minutes before serving.
Lemon oregano dressing
- In a jar mix lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, sumac, cayenne and salt. Seal the jar and shake it well before using it.