This Mediterranean lentil salad is a protein-rich vegetarian salad loaded with a lot of delicious and nutritious ingredients. If you want to add lentils to your diet and looking for easy lentil recipe ideas then this salad recipe is worth trying.
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Being an Indian I grew up eating lentils every single day of my life and still do. However, I never knew that lentils are not used much in a lot of other cuisines. I was surprised to know that some of my non-Indian friends tasted lentils for the first time when I shared my lunch with them.
But, now as a lot of people are turning vegan/ vegetarian and looking for meat free or egg free protein sources, lentils are becoming very popular in other parts of the world too.
In fact, not only vegans and vegetarians but also others who are into healthy eating are including lentils in their diet.
A lot of my readers keep asking me to share more lentil recipes on my blog. I have already shared a couple of them on my blog and today I am sharing another one- Mediterranean lentil salad with feta, also known as the Lebanese lentil salad.
This vegetarian lentil salad is loaded with a lot of delicious and nutritious ingredients which makes it a complete meal in itself. Just eat a bowl of this salad and you will be full.
- What goes in Mediterranean lentil salad?
- Green lentil Vs brown lentil
- Can canned lentils be used?
- How to make?
- Step by step photo instructions
- How to know that the lentil is cooked?
- How to make a vegan version of this lentil salad?
- Serving suggestions
- Recipe tips and tricks
- Frequently asked questions
- More lentil recipes from around the world
What goes in Mediterranean lentil salad?
To make Mediterranean style lentil salad with feta you will need the following ingredients:
- Brown lentils: I have used brown lentils in this salad but can also be made with green lentils. Please don't get confused between green lentils and green mung beans, they are different.
- Onion: Preferably red but you can use any type of onion.
- Cucumber: I have used Persian cucumber so haven't peeled it. You don't need to peel English cucumber too. However, if using a variety with thicker skin like Indian cucumber, you may peel it if you want.
- Pomegranate arils: Don't skip pomegranate. The combination of pomegranate with lentil, feta, mint, and all the other ingredients make this lentil salad taste this good. You can also add chopped oranges.
- Parsley: fresh cilantro and dill can be used too.
- Fresh mint leaves
- Feta cheese: Use the creamy feta cheese not the drier one.
- Water: Vegetable stock can also be used to cook lentils.
- Kalamata olives
- Chili flakes
- Dried oregano
- Ground black pepper
- Olive oil: Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil.
Green lentil Vs brown lentil
If the lentils are new for you, differentiating between green and brown lentils might be slightly challenging for you. Though they both look quite similar, brown lentil is smaller in size in comparison to green lentil.
Also, if you keep them together, you will notice a slightly green tint in the green lentil. It won't be as green as mung bean but has a greenish brown color.
The green lentil takes more time to get cooked than the brown one and also retains its shape in a better way even after getting cooked because it has a harder outer layer.
I cook lentils everyday so with experience now it's easy for me to cook them the way I want them to be in a dish. Like creamy in soups, slightly mushy in Indian daal, and cooked without getting mushy in salads.
But, if you are cooking the lentils for the first time and not very confident about doing that, use green lentil for salad instead of brown as it won't turn mushy easily. You may have to slightly increase the cooking time and water in the recipe if using green lentils.
Can canned lentils be used?
I would recommend cooking lentils at home. They are more delicious and nutritious too. Also, salads taste better if you use all fresh and home-cooked ingredients in them. Moreover, cooking lentils at home is very easy and doesn't need much time.
But, if you don't want to cook the lentils at home at all or the uncooked lentils are not available to you, you can make this salad using canned lentils too. Just rinse them with water before adding to the salad.
How to make?
Making Lebanese lentil salad with feta is very easy. It just involves three main steps:
Cooking the lentils: Wash the lentils and put them in a pot with water or vegetable stock and some salt. Cover the pot and cook until the lentils get nicely cooked without losing shape. Drain the excess water, if any, and fluff the lentils with a fork. Allow reaching room temperature.
Lentil water is full of nutrients so don't throw it away. It can be used in soups and stews like stock.
If you see that all the water has got evaporated but the lentils are not cooked just add some boiling hot water and cook further.
Preparing the dressing: Put all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and mix. You can always adjust the amount of dressing ingredients to suit your taste.
Tossing everything: Put the cooked lentils, pomegranate, all the chopped vegetables, herbs, olives, and dressing into a bowl. Gently toss as the cooked lentils are fragile. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Finally, put the feta cubes, and more fresh herbs on top.
The feta is very creamy so it's better to add it after tossing the other ingredients. Otherwise, the cheese will break and make the whole salad milky.
Step by step photo instructions
How to know that the lentil is cooked?
To check if the lentils are ready for salad or not, gently pick one. It should retain it's shape when you pick it up but then easily get pressed when you press them between your fingers.
How to make a vegan version of this lentil salad?
To make vegan Mediterranean lentil salad either skip feta or replace it with chopped avocado for the creaminess. Also, replace honey with maple/ agave syrup.
This salad is loaded with a lot of ingredients and is very filling so you can enjoy it as a meal and don't really need anything on the side.
But, if you want you can serve it with pita bread, roasted vegetables, or a bowl of soup.
You can also stuff it inside your falafel wraps and sandwiches or add to your buddha bowl.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Instead of water vegetable stock can also be used to cook the lentils.
- You can also add a bay leaf or cinnamon stick while cooking the lentils to make them more aromatic. Remove and discard the bay leaf once the lentils are cooked.
- Don't overcook the lentils otherwise, they will turn mushy.
- After switching off the stove, fluff the lentils with a fork. This will help in stopping further cooking of lentils by steam. It also avoids them sticking to each other.
- Toss the salad gently otherwise, the lentils will turn mushy.
- You can also add around 1-2 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses to the dressing to make it even more delicious.
- Don't use a pressure cooker/ instant pot to cook lentils for salad. The lentil may get slightly over-cooked than required for a salad. It's easier to control the texture of lentils if cooking in a regular pot.
Frequently asked questions
No, cooked red lentil is too soft to add to a salad and will turn mushy.
Soaking the lentil reduces its cooking time but doing that is not mandatory. If you soak it, reduce the amount of water and cooking time in this recipe.
Yes, lentils are naturally gluten-free.
More lentil recipes from around the world
Looking for more easy lentil recipes from around the world? Don't miss to check the following recipes:
- Lentil quinoa soup
- Armenian lentil salad
- Red lentil soup
- Indian style brown lentil
- Moong masoor ki dal
- Dal palak
- Winter lentil salad
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Mediterranean lentil salad
- Cooking pot
- large bowl
- Wash the lentils and put in a pot with salt and around 2+ ¼ cups of water. Cover the pot with a lid and cook until the lentils are nicely cooked without losing the shape and turning mushy. It will take around 25 minutes in covered pot on medium flame. If you feel the water has evaporated but lentils are not cooked add some boiling hot water and continue cooking.
- Once the lentils are cooked, strain the excess liquid. Don't discard it, the liquid can be used in stews and soups.
- Fluff the lentils with a fork and allow reaching room temperature.
- Put all the ingredients of the dressing in a bowl and mix.
- In a large bowl put the cooked lentils, pomegranate arils, chopped vegetables, herbs, and olives.
- Pour the dressing and gently toss until everything is mixed.
- Garnish with feta cubes and more fresh herbs. Enjoy!
- Don't overcook the lentils otherwise, they will turn mushy.
- Toss the lentils gently otherwise, they will turn mushy.
- Add the salt carefully and only if required as the lentils are also cooked in salted water and feta is salty too.
- Add feta cheese cubes at the end.
- More detailed tips and tricks are given in the post above, please follow them to make this recipe.