This made-ahead friendly salad has veggies, protein, cheese, nuts, fresh herbs, and tangy pickled onions for the ultimate lentil salad! It can be enjoyed on its own for a light lunch or served for dinner with grilled sausage or topped with fried eggs. Protein, fiber, and nutrient-packed lentils get tossed with roasted veggies, salty cheese, and lots of fresh herbs in a super simple dressing. Plenty of nuts on top add crunch and pickle red onions add a delicious tangy bite.
Lentils! My favorite small but mighty pulse! They are packed full of protein, fiber, folic acid, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. One half cup of uncooked lentils (or about 1 ¼ cup cooked) contains 24g of protein, that’s more than you get in 3 oz of steak!
- 1 cup green or French lentils (about 2 ½ cups cooked)
- 3 cups peeled and finely chopped carrots (about 5 carrots)*
- 3 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets (about 2-2.5 lb)*
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt divided
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
- 2 cups loosely packed cilantro and/or parsley chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped or grated hard aged cheese**
- ¾ cup toasted nuts, chopped (almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc…)
- Pickled red onions
- Buttered toast (optional)
- *Chop these into very small pieces so they cook faster and you don’t get huge chunks.
- **Use a parmesan, aged cheddar, gouda, etc…You could also use crumbled feta cheese, if you’d like. You want thick little chunks of cheese which is why I prefer roughly chopping it instead of grating.
- Note: ~ add your lentils to the dressing while they are still warm so they soak up more flavor. If they are cold/prepped ahead, warm them up in the microwave.
- Preheat your oven to 450F or 425F convection. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium pot, add the lentils and enough water to cover by at least 2-inches. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender, but not mushy. Depending on how fresh/old your lentils are, they will cook a lot faster or slower, so keep an eye on them and taste as you go. Drain the lentils and set aside.
- Add carrots, cauliflower, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and ½ teaspoon salt to the baking sheet and toss to coat. Spread into an even layer and bake for 20 minutes or until crisp tender and charred in spots.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ cup oil, vinegar, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic. Add the warm lentils and toss to coat. Add the herbs, cheese, and roasted veggies and toss to combine. Taste the salad and add more salt or vinegar if it tastes like it needs something.
- Serve topped with plenty of nuts, pickled red onion, and a side of buttered toast if you’d like.
Items you can prep ahead (optional)
- Cook 1 cup green or French lentils (about 2 ½ cups cooked)
- Peel and finely chop 3 cups carrots
- Tost ¾ cup nuts
- Finely chop 3 cups cauliflower florets
- Bake the cauli/carrots
- Whisk together the dressing in a large bowl
- Chop 2 cups loosely packed cilantro and/or parsley
- Finely chop 1 cup hard aged cheese
- Pickled a red onion
- Make the salad!
- To make vegan, skip the cheese or use a vegan cheese alternative. The cheese adds richness and saltiness, so I’d recommend topping the salad with plenty of chopped avocado sprinkled with salt!
- You can use any chopped veggies in place of carrots and cauliflower (6 cups worth).
- You could use 2 (15 oz) cans of any bean in place of lentils. Make sure to warm them up before adding to the dressing so they soak up more flavor.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Leftovers + Repurposing:
- I think salads always taste better closer to room temp or a little warm, but this is also delicious right out of the fridge. I like to pop it in the microwave for 10-20 seconds just to take the chill off.
- Add cooked meat or fried/boiled eggs for extra protein.
- Toss with some salad greens for a leafier salad (you may want to taste and add a splash of vinegar and pinch of salt).