This easy red lentil salad is loaded with delicious flavor from three kinds of fresh herbs, crumbled feta cheese, and a simple lemon honey dressing spiked with curry powder. It’s a great vegetarian side or main dish that’s packed with protein and fiber.
I’m a sucker for a lentil salad. One of my favorite weekday lunch hacks is making a clean-out-the-fridge salad with a package of pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s. I usually add whatever herbs I have on hand, a chopped apple or dried fruit, a crumbled cheese like feta or goat, carrots or roasted beets, and a dressing with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. It ALWAYS satisfies!
My lunchtime experimentation is what inspired this quick and easy red lentil salad. It uses the same formula I just mentioned: lentils, herbs, fruit, cheese, and citrus dressing. For other recipes that aren’t too far off, check out the Greek Lentil Salad and Lemony Fennel Lentil Salad with Parsley.
In this recipe, instead of green or brown lentils, I used red split lentils. These break down when cooked and become super creamy. The texture of the salad is therefore slightly different than one that uses lentils that retain their shape. It’s a great way to mix up how you eat lentils IMO! I hope you enjoy this one!
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Red lentils: I use split red lentils. Pretty much all of the red lentils you find in grocery stores are split, so if you are wondering if that’s the kind of red lentils you have, it most likely is! You can substitute other kinds of lentils, such as brown or green, but you won’t get the same creamy texture if you use those. They will also have a longer cooking time.
- Fresh herbs: I use parsley, cilantro, and dill, but you can just use one or two of these herbs or swap in other ones that you have on hand. Thyme, oregano, or basil would work well.
- Raisins: I happened to pick up jumbo raisins and they ended up working really well, but you can use any kind of raisins. You could also substitute dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots.
- Feta cheese: I recommend purchasing a block of feta cheese and crumbling it yourself. It tastes fresher that way! Pre-crumbled feta is also totally fair game. Skip the cheese if you want to make a vegan red lentil salad.
- Extra virgin olive oil: My favorite olive oil is Partanna.
- Lemon juice: Substitute red wine, white wine, or apple cider vinegar if needed.
- Salt, pepper, and curry powder: Feel free to substitute cumin for curry powder.
- Honey: Use maple syrup in lieu of honey if that’s all you have.
- Dijon mustard: A whole grain mustard would work well in this dish too.
The full recipe card is at the bottom of the post.
Combine 1 cup red lentils with 2 cups water in a large saucepan or pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to very low. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the lentils are cooked through and start to break down. Drain excess water from the lentils. See How to Cook Red Lentils for more tips.
In the meantime, chop up the herbs.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
Combine the salad ingredients in a mixing bowl. Toss with the dressing, and enjoy!
Since red lentils become mushy when cooked, I recommend cooking them with a water to lentil ratio of 2 to 1 instead of 3 to 1. This allows some of the lentils to retain their shape (while still being cooked through) while the rest break down.
If you let the lentils cool in the refrigerator before assembling the salad, they will also retain their shape better than if you serve the salad warm. Keep in mind that they won’t all retain their shape though, no matter how you cook them. Red lentils are supposed to have a soft, mushy texture. It works well in this salad…trust me!
Keep leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. You can serve red lentil salad warm or cold. If you want to reheat leftovers, warm in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until warmed through.
More Lentil Recipes
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Red Lentil Salad with Herbs and Feta
For the salad
- Combine the dry lentils with 2 cups of water in a large saucepan or pot with a lid. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to very low. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring once or twice, until cooked through to your liking.
- Drain any remaining water from the lentils. Transfer the cooked lentils to a large mixing bowl. Add the chopped herbs, raisins, and feta. Alternatively, if you are not serving the salad right away or want to serve it cold, you can put the lentils in the fridge to cool.
- In a measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, curry powder, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, toss, and serve!
- Leave a rating or review by tapping the stars on this recipe card (above) or in the comments section (at the end of the post)!
- Recipe yields about 3 cups, 3 x 1-cup servings as a main dish or 6 x ½-cup servings as a side.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
Enjoy this recipe! – Lizzie