Winter lentil salad is a comforting warm lentil salad made with green lentils, roasted vegetables, fruits, and seeds. It has a delicious sweet and citrusy dressing which goes very well with all the other ingredients of this salad. This filling vegan salad is also a great option for healthy weeknight dinners.
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Most of the salad recipes that I have shared on my blog are more suitable for summers, as they have refreshing juicy ingredients that taste better if served chilled.
Today I am sharing a comforting warm lentil salad with roasted vegetables and fruits, that's perfect for winters.
This winter lentil pumpkin salad can not only be served as a salad but is so filling that you can also enjoy it as a healthy weeknight dinner or lunch.
What goes in this winter lentil salad?
To make this lentil salad, you will need the following ingredients:
- Home-cooked/ canned green lentils
- Pumpkin: Butternut squash can also be used.
- Carrots: Use more winter vegetables if you wish .
- Orange: Use any varierty that's available, I have used valencia orange. Oranges are rich in vitamin C so must be included in the diet, especially during winters. Moreover, their refreshing citrusy flavor also helps in balancing the warm flavors of the this salad.
- Pomegranate arils
- Onion: Use any available variety.
- Parsley: Fresh cilantro or a combination of both can be used too.
- Pepitas: Pepitas are shelled pumpkin seeds. They add a crunch to this salad. You can add more seeds and nuts to it.
- Orange juice: Use freshly squeezed orange juice for more flavors.
- Lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- Chilli flakes: Finely chopped chili peppers can also be used. Skip if your heat tolerance is low.
- Pomegranate molasses: It's a very delicious sweet and sour molasses made with fresh pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice. If you could not find it, use cranberry molasses. I also found some interesting pomegranate molasses substitute suggestions, you can try them out.
How to make?
- Bake the vegetables: Peel and chop pumpkin, carrot, and slice onion. Make bite size pieces of pumpkin and carrot and make thick slices of onion. Put them in a bowl along with unpeeled garlic cloves. Remove the tip of the garlic cloves. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil. Toss. Evenly spread the vegetables on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200°C (around 400°F) or until the vegetables are nicely cooked.
- Preparing salad dressing: Put the pomegranate molasses, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and chili flakes, in a bowl. Mix everything to make a dressing. Keep the dressing aside.
- Preparing lentils for salad: Drain the liquid of cooked lentils. If using canned lentils, rinse with some water to get rid of the metalic taste which comes from canned food. Microwave for 1-2 minutes to make them warm.
- Mixing the ingredients: Take a large mixing bowl. Put the warm lentils, roasted vegetables, chopped oranges, pomegrante arils, pepitas, and roughly chopped parsley in the bowl. Pour the salad dressing and toss. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Enjoy!
Step by step photo instructions
How to cook green lentils at home?
Though you can use canned green lentils to make this vegan lentil salad, it tastes the best if home-cooked green lentils are used in it. They are more flavourful and taste fresher. Also, that's a healthier option.
But, if you have never cooked green lentils at home, don't worry it's a very easy process.
Here I am taking 1 cup of raw lentils which will yield around 3 cups of cooked lentils.
- Rinse the lentils with water 4-5 times.
- Put in a heavy bottomed pan with 4 cups of water/ vegetable stock.
- Add a bay leaf and little salt(around 1/4 teaspoon). You can add a cinnamon stick or any other whole spice too for adding more warm flavors.
- Cook on medium flame until the water starts boiling.
- After the first boil, put on the lid and cook on low flame for around 30 minutes.
- Keep on checking and stirring in between to ensure that the lentils are not getting burned or over cooked. The lentils should be soft but not mushy. They should retain their shape.
- If you feel that the whole water has dried up but the lentil is not cooked add some boiling water and cook more until you get the desired texture.
- Once cooked, strain the excess liquid, if any. Allow the lentils to become warm and then use in the salad.
Recipe tips and tricks
- Don't overcook the lentils otherwise they will turn very soft and mushy.
- For extra flavor, instead of water, you can use vegetable stock to cook the lentils.
- If you are cooking the lentils at home, add some salt while cooking them and then adjust the salt in dressing accordingly.
- Slightly dry roast the seeds and nuts that you are adding. After getting roasted they become more flavorful and crunchy.
- Don't make very thin slices of onion otherwise they may get burned on getting roasted with the vegetables.
- This winter salad tastes the best if served warm. So if you are planning to make it in advance, mix all the ingredients except fruits. Before serving microwave the salad for a few minutes and add the fruits after warming. Mix and serve.
You can serve this salad with some pita bread or any other bread of choice. It's good to be enjoyed as a salad as well as a meal.
It can be stuffed inside wraps and also be added to a buddha bowl.
Try serving it warm, it tastes the best that way.
To store, put it in an air-tight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days. I would recommend adding fruits fresh before eating.
Frequently asked questions
No, though they look quite similar, green lentils and brown lentils are not the same. Green lentils have greenish-brown color and they are slightly bigger than brown lentils. Brown lentils are brown colored, smaller in size, and get cooked faster.
Though you can make this salad with brown lentils too, green lentils are a better choice for salads as they don't get mushy easily like brown lentils do. The texture of cooked green lentils is more suitable for salads than that of cooked brown lentils.
Yes, canned lentils can be used in this recipe. However, please make sure to rinse them with water to get rid of the metallic smell and taste. Also, microwave them for 1-2 minutes to make them warm.
Soaking these lentils before cooking is not mandatory. It just reduces the cooking time.
Yes, cooked lentils can be frozen for 3-4 months.
More easy lentil recipes
If you are planning to make this rich source of vegan protein a part of your regular diet and looking for some easy lentil recipe ideas then don't miss to check the following links:
- Medietrranean lentil salad (vegetarian)
- Brown lentil curry (vegan)
- Lentil quinoa soup (vegan)
- Red lentil soup (vegan)
- Armenian lentil salad (vegan)
- Moong masoor dal (vegan)
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Winter lentil salad
- Put the pumpkin and carrot cubes in a bowl. Add sliced onion and whole garlic cloves. Add around a tablespoon of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss.
- Evenly spread the vegetables on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes at 200°C (around 400°F) or until the vegetables are nicely cooked and start getting charred.
Prepare salad dressing
- Once the vegetables are baked, take the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze out the roasted garlic pulp. Put it in a bowl along with all the other dressing ingredients. Mix well to make the salad dressing.
- Take a large mixing bowl. Add cooked lentils, roasted vegetables, fruits, pepitas, and parsley.
- Pour the salad dressing on top.
- Gently toss.
- Check and adjust the seasoning. Enjoy!
- Slightly roast pepitas to make them extra crunchy and more flavorful.
- You can add more roasted vegetables of choice.
- Gently toss the salad otherwise the lentils may turn mushy.
- If you are cooking the lentils at home, just remember that 1 cup of green lentils will yield around 3 cups of cooked lentils.
- More recipe tips and tricks are given within the post above. Please follow them to make this recipe.