Lentil Salad

5 from 2 votes

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This easy lentil salad with a balsamic-lemon dressing is bursting with color, flavor, and textures.

Two spoons in a colorful bowl of Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad.

If you ever thought lentil salads were boring, think again! Fresh, delicious, and so easy to make, this lentil salad recipe is also vegan and gluten-free!

This recipe comes together very quickly once you cook the lentils. In fact, while the lentils are cooking, you can chop, sauté, and combine all of the rest of the ingredients. By the time the lentils are tender, you will have the other components of the salad all ready to go. The only thing that will be left to do is toss it all together!

The generous, colorful assortment of chopped and diced vegetables results in a lentil salad that’s a little lighter than most and very varied (e.g., not at all boring) within each bite. You can always add a handful of crumbled feta if you like (which, of course, makes it vegetarian but not vegan). This salad can be served as a main course or as a side.

Colorful bowl filled with Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad.

Lentil Salad: This easy bean salad with a balsamic-lemon dressing is bursting with color, flavor, and textures.

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The Best Lentils for Lentil Salad

You can make this salad with any kind of green or brown lentil. But hear me out: spend the extra change (not a lot — we’re talking about beans, after all) and the extra few minutes to grab the good lentils, Italian or French, if this is at all a possibility in the reality of your legume world.

Don’t use red, orange, or yellow lentils here. Those are delicious but get very soft when cooked and won’t work in this sort of salad. They are, however, terrific in soups and Indian dishes like dals.

So, go for the good lentils—and let me know what you think! 

Two spoons in a colorful bowl of Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad.

Lentil Salad Ingredients

In this salad, the lentils are simply cooked, then combined with a balsamic-lemon dressing and some lightly cooked vegetables: onions, carrots, and celery.

And then the finishing touches: diced avocado, which pretty much always makes any salad that much better, here adding color and creaminess, plus healthy handfuls of sliced scallions (pop of color, bit of crunch, hit of spiciness) and fresh parsley (fresh and clean and herby).

  • Olive oil
  • Red onions – Add a little sharpness.
  • Carrots and celery– Diced small for color and crunch.
  • Lentils – Use the Italian or French variety if possible.
  • Balsamic vinegar – Provides a sweet-tart flavor to the dressing.
  • Honey, maple syrup, or agave – To keep this salad vegan, use agave or maple syrup in the dressing instead of honey.
  • Lemon – A nice citrusy pop of freshness.
  • Avocados – Add a lovely, velvety, creamy texture.
  • Parsley – A basic fresh herb, but the perfect one for this salad.
  • Scallions – Use both the white and the green parts for optimal flavor and color.
Spoons scooping Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad.

How to Make Lentil Salad

  1. Sauté the vegetables: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are just barely tender. Turn the mixture into a large bowl, and add the lentils.
  2. Make the dressing: While the vegetables are cooking, combine the remaining olive oil, vinegar, honey or other sweetener, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper in a bowl or lidded container. Stir or shake well.
  3. Combine and cool: Pour the dressing over the lentil mixture and toss to combine. Cool to room temperature.
  4. Garnish and serve: Peel and dice the avocados. Add the avocado, parsley, and scallions to the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.
Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad heaped onto a colorful bowl.

FAQs

Can you eat cold lentils?

Absolutely! Cooked lentils are great in cold dishes, like this salad.

What happens if you don’t rinse lentils?

Nothing bad will happen, especially if they are packaged lentils. Rinsing removes any possible dirt or dust. It’s a good idea to rinse them if you remember, and especially if you buy them in bulk.

What to Serve With Lentil Salad

Lentil salad works wonderfully with many different kinds dishes. For a non-vegetarian dinner, try Lemon Garlic Tilapia, Grilled Swordfish, Homemade Fish Sticks, or Grilled Chicken Breasts.

To keep the meal vegetarian or vegan, go with Asparagus with Scallion Chimichurri Sauce, Goat Cheese and Mushroom Quesadillas, Roasted Lemon Brussels Sprouts, or explore these vegetarian recipes…

Lentil, Red Onion and Avocado Salad in a bowl and on a plate with a green salad.

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5 from 2 votes

Lentil Salad

This easy lentil salad with a balsamic-lemon dressing is bursting with color, flavor, and textures.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 People
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Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are just barely tender. Turn the mixture into a large bowl, and add the lentils.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, in a small bowl or a container with a lid, combine the remaining olive oil, vinegar, honey or other sweetener, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake well. Pour the dressing over the lentil mixture and toss to combine. Cool to room temperature.
  • Peel and dice the avocados. Add the avocado, parsley, and scallions to the salad and toss gently to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

You can make this salad with any kind of green or brown lentil. But hear me out: spend the extra change (not a lot — we’re talking about beans, after all) and the extra few minutes to grab the good lentils, Italian or French, if this is at all a possibility in the reality of your legume world.

Nutrition

Calories: 390.77kcal, Carbohydrates: 43.48g, Protein: 14.26g, Fat: 19.83g, Saturated Fat: 2.82g, Sodium: 49.46mg, Potassium: 1046.49mg, Fiber: 16.91g, Sugar: 9.97g, Vitamin A: 5545.65IU, Vitamin C: 17.92mg, Calcium: 66.07mg, Iron: 5.28mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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