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Spicy Black Lentils with Feta and Cucumber

4.77 from 17 community reviews

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Vibrant and satisfying Mediterranean-style lentils in a spicy green herb dressing. An easy salad packed with flavor! Black lentils cook in 20 minutes, and they’re delicious served as a room temperature salad.

A white serving bowl of lentil salad, with green sauce and a wedge of red onion in the background.

This black lentils recipe is a celebration of basic Mediterranean salad ingredients, including cucumbers, green chiles, red onion, and feta cheese, along with all the fresh herbs I could cram in there.

The dressing is a riff on my absolute favorite green sauce, resembling a classic zhoug (sounds like“zoog”) sauce, a spicy condiment from Israel and the Middle East. To make it, you whiz handfuls of fresh parsley and cilantro in a blender with green chili (I use jalapeño or serrano), garlic, spices, vinegar, and olive oil.

An overhead view of a white serving bowl with chopped cucumber, red onion and feta cheese and a wooden spoon, with green sauce and wedge of red onion in the background.

Combined with the earthy lentils and crunchy bits of cucumber and sweet red onion, the green sauce practically zings with brightness.

Lentils are hearty and satisfying, and one of the best plant-based sources of protein you can find. I love ’em in all kinds of vegetarian meals, like soups and salads. And definitely in dishes that can be eaten casually, at room temperature, like a classic French lentil salad.

A close up image of black lentils in a white bowl.

About black beluga lentils:

I use elegant-looking black lentils for this recipe, but you can also use French green 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.

Black lentils in a serving bowl with a wooden spoon, with green sauce and wedge of red onion in the background.

Black lentils are worth stocking up on. You can find them at Whole Foods, large supermarkets, and 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, rather than become split or mushy. So, when you taste-test, it’s okay if they are pleasantly firm in the center.
A close up view of a white serving bowl with lentil salad and a wooden spoon, with green sauce and wedge of red onion in the background.

Black lentils benefits

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

Serving ideas

  • The lentils make a great stand-alone meal. Enjoy them for lunch, as a dinner side dish f with roasted vegetables, or with marinated chicken breasts or baked salmon alongside.
  • The lentils and sauce keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

Spicy Black Lentils with Feta and Green Sauce

Karen Tedesco
Vibrant, tasty Mediterranean-style black lentils in a bold and spicy green herb sauce with chopped cucumber and feta cheese. Black lentils cook in about 20 minutes and keep well for days in the refrigerator.
Print Pin
4.77 from 17 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Vegetables
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Green Sauce

  • 1 cup each Italian parsley and cilantro leaves, loosely packed (or 2 cups of either herb)
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) red wine vinegar

Lentils

  • 1 cup black or French-style lentils
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, diced into small cubes
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • ½ cup fresh mint or Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ cup (125 g) crumbled feta or goat cheese

Instructions 

Make the sauce:

  • Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or small food processor until very smooth.

Cook the lentils

  • 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 ⅓ cup of the green sauce and toss gently. Sprinkle the salad with the mint or parsley leaves and crumbled cheese and toss again.
  • Serve the lentils with additional sauce spooned over.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • Pick through the lentils before cooking to be sure they don’t contain an errant stone or twig (lentils are harvested from the ground so it happens sometimes)
  • Substitute French lentils if you can’t find black ones.
  • Refrigerate leftover green sauce for up to 3 days. It’s delicious on any salad or as a sauce all on its own.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 569mg | Potassium: 117mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1036IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 117mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

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Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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