This combination of fresh summer herbs, protein and fiber rich lentils, and lots of colorful vegetables, all tossed in a homemade, red wine vinaigrette, ensure this salad will be a hit at any pot luck or family dinner this summer!
Legumes (aka lentils & beans) do not get enough love! Yes, they are the magical fruit (?), but the fiber and plant-based protein they provide really does make for a filling, nutritious addition to any dish. They're also way less expensive than a meat-based protein, so if you're looking for a budget friendly option, these guys are your friend.
I made this easy, chop & toss salad to bring to a friend's house for dinner last week and it was a big hit! I also had leftovers for days! All the protein, fiber and healthy fats make this an option as meatless entree for your weekend BBQ or a quick Meatless Monday Dinner. However, if you want to bump up the protein and satisfaction factor even more, just top it with your favorite seafood, meat, or poultry protein. I added some cooked shrimp one day and grilled, sliced chicken another. The combination options are endless.
In my humble opinion, homemade salad dressings are the way to go. It seems like an extra effort or one more thing to prepare, but in all reality, this dressing took me no more than 5 minutes to throw together in a mason jar, shake up, and be ready to dress the salad. Oh, and I didn't have to pay $6.99 for the store-bought version. And mine tastes better, if I do say so myself. Win-win. ;)
Summer Lentil Vegetable Salad
For the Salad:
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
- 3 cups lentils, cooked and cooled (green, red, or any other color lentil you find will work! TIP - if you want a super convenient option, Trader Joe's and many other stores sell pre-cooked lentils in their prepared foods sections.)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (if packed in oil, rinse and drain)
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted, drained, and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 medium cucumber, diced
- 2-3 carrots, shredded
For the Dressing:
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 generous pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- In a large bowl, combine all salad ingredients.
- In a small mason jar or other covered container, combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously to combine.
- I like to keep the dressing on the side and let everyone add just as much as they like/need. This also makes it easy to store leftovers for a day or two without them turning into a sad, soggy salad mess. If you know your entire salad is going to get devoured, drizzle about 1/2 the dressing in, toss well, and add more as needed.
If you try this recipe, use #jeannereillyrd on social media channels to show me your handiwork!
Thanks as always for following me on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest and sharing me with all your friends, family, coworkers and strangers on the street. :) I’m have availability for new clients at the moment, so if you know of anyone or any health-focused companies looking for nutrition consultant or coach, send them my way!