Lemony Lentil Salad

Lemony Lentil Salad. Photo © Molly Watson
  • 25 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This Lemony Lentil Salad is super simple, super tasty, and super healthful. It's also super basic, and easy to dress up with whatever seasonal veggies you picked up at the market—see the many optional additions listed below to mix and match as you like.

While most types of lentils works here, and I like to use tiny green French lentils when I have them on hand, as you can see from the picture, the more common brown lentils work very nicely, too. Softer, hulled red lentils are trickier in salads. If you do decide to use them, be careful not to overcook them.

What You'll Need

  • 1 cup brown, black, or green lentils
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 small garlic clove or shallot
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 spring onion or 5 green onions
  • Many and Sundry Optional Additions
  • Shaved or thinly sliced fennel
  • Arugula or spinach leaves
  • Halved cherry tomatoes
  • Diced or shaved zucchini
  • Sliced or diced cucumber
  • Roasted winter squash
  • Crumbled feta cheese or cojita
  • Chopped hard-boiled eggs
  • Roasted garlic cloves
  • Shavings of Parmesan cheese
  • Toasted walnuts or pine nuts
  • Drizzle of nut oil (or chile oil for a kick!)

How to Make It

  1. Put the lentils in a large pot. Cover with 6 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer and cook. When the lentils re about half-way cooked (they are almost done but still have a hard center when you bite one), add the salt. Continue cooking until the lentils are just tender to the bite; the total cook time will vary depending on the type of lentil you're using. Drain and set aside.
  1. While the lentils continue to drain, make the dressing: Peel and mince the garlic or shallot and put it in a large bowl. Finely grate 1 teaspoon lemon zest into the bowl, being careful to only grate off the bright yellow part, avoiding the bitter white pith underneath. Halve the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice into the bowl. Add the pepper and mustard and quickly whisk to combine. Let sit about 5 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil.
  2. Shake any remaining excess water off the lentils. Add the well-drained lentils to the bowl and toss to combine so the lentils are evenly coated with the dressing.
  3. Trim and finely chop the spring onion or green onions and add them to the lentils. Add any of the optional additions that appeal to you and are in-season!