A healthy, satisfying Mediterranean lentil salad in a spicy green herb dressing. An easy salad packed with flavor! Black Beluga lentils cook in 20 minutes, and the salad is delicious at room temperature.
Here’s a fantastic quick salad that’s so tasty you’ll almost forget that lentils are good for you.
This salad is a celebration of basic Mediterranean salad fixings – cucumbers, red onion and feta cheese, along with all the fresh herbs I could cram in there.
To make it, you just whiz handfuls of fresh parsley and cilantro in a blender with green chili (I use jalapeño), garlic, spices, vinegar and olive oil.
Combined with the earthy lentils and crunchy bits of cucumber and sweet red onion, the sauce practically zings with brightness.
Healthy lentil salads are a great option when you’re craving tasty fare, but want to feel good eating it.
Lentils are hearty and satisfying, and one of the best plant-based sources of protein you can find.
I love ’em in soups, for sure. And definitely in dishes that can be eaten casually, at room temperature, like Warm French Lentil Salad.
I choose to use elegant-looking black lentils for this salad.
what are black beluga lentils
Black lentils are often called “the caviar” of lentils, which seems like a very romantic title for a humble little legume.
They’re one of a variety of lentils that come in colors like brown, red, and green.
Beluga refers to a type of caviar — actually the top tier of all caviars – that comes from the beluga sturgeon.
Because these glossy little black lentils looks so much like expensive fish eggs, I can only imagine that someone in the lentil marketing department came up with the nickname.
Whatever works, I guess!
Black lentils aren’t as prevalent in stores as the than brown or red ones are, but they’re worth stocking up on.
You can find them at Whole Foods and most likely at your local co-op or natural foods store.
They have a delicious, delicate flavor with a mild earthy character, and they keep their shape well after cooking.
Black lentils are very similar to French green lentils in texture and taste, and they’re perfect to use in salads because they don’t turn mushy.
How to cook black lentils
Aside from their stunning appearance, the beautiful thing about black lentils is that they don’t need to be soaked before cooking, like many of their cousins in the legume family do.
To cook them, bring some salted water to a boil and add the lentils.
They’ll cook in about 20 minutes to a perfect tender doneness.
You want them to retain their shape in the salad. So, when you taste-test, it’s okay if they are pleasantly firm in the center.
But there IS something you should know about the physical beauty of beluga lentils:
While they resemble gorgeous, glossy black spheres when raw, black lentils turn brown and rather ordinary-looking after cooking.
Of course, they’re no less delicious, but I thought it best to inform you 🙂
Are black lentils healthy?
Lentils of any color are little powerhouses of good-for-you nutrients.
Black lentils have the following bona fides:
- High in fiber (15 grams per 1/4 cup)
- High in protein (13 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Low in fat
- Good source of potassium and iron
What to serve with black lentil salad
This salad makes a great stand-alone meal. I love it for lunch, or as a side dish for dinner along with roasted vegetables or simply cooked meat, chicken or fish on top.
You can keep the salad and dressing for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Black Lentil Salad with Feta and Cucumber
- 1 cup each Italian parsley and cilantro leaves, loosely packed (or 2 cups of either herb)
- 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 cup black or French-style lentils
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 baby, Persian cucumbers, cut into small dice
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup fresh mint or Italian parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup (125 g) crumbled feta or goat cheese
Make the dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or small food processor until very smooth.
Make the salad
- Bring 4 cups water to a boil with the salt. Add the lentils and cook 20-25 minutes. Taste-test: They should be tender but not mushy. Drain well and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Put the cucumbers, onion and lentils in a serving bowl. Add 1/3 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Sprinkle the salad with the mint or parsley leaves and goat cheese and toss again.
- Serve the salad with additional dressing spooned over, if you like.
- Pick through the lentils before cooking to be sure they don’t contain an errant stone or twig (lentils are all-natural and plant-based and sometimes that happens)
- Substitute French lentils if you can’t find black ones.
- Refrigerate leftover dressing for up to 3 days. It’s delicious on any salad or as a sauce all on its own.