If I had my way I would eat a big bowl of quinoa salad every day. This is exactly why I have so many quinoa salad recipes on this blog. I know you feel in a similar way because my Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Butternut Squash Quinoa, Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, and Thai Quinoa Salad recipes are amongst some of the most visited pages on this blog.
Today, we are adding a new one to the collection. This Quinoa Lentil Salad is a naturally vegetarian and gluten-free salad, combining flavors of fresh mint, protein-packed quinoa and lentils, and tangy lemon in one bowl.
I Love This Recipe Because It:
- Is a protein-packed filling salad that you can serve as a side dish (or a light main dish) or prepare it in advance for weekday lunches or meal prep.
- Comes together in less than 45 minutes with only 9 simple ingredients
- Is a great way to add in some good-for-you plant protein into your diet thanks to quinoa
Ingredients Notes + Substitutions
I love to create quinoa recipes that combine flexible ingredients with unique flavors. This lentil quinoa salad recipe is no exception, as it is packed with fresh mint, quinoa, green French green lentils, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, and red onion.
- Quinoa: This protein-packed grain comes in a variety of colors (white, red, and tricolor). I opted for tri-color quinoa but you can use whichever variety you have on hand.
- French Green Lentils (aka French du Puy lentils): This variety of lentils have a greyish-green color and a nutty and peppery taste. When cooked, they hold their shape with a texture that is tender but not mushy. If you don’t have them on hand, you can also use regular green lentils.
- Kalamata Olives: You’re likely to find Kalamata olives in many Greek or Mediterranean dishes. Find them in the olive cart or jars at your local grocery store.
- Fresh Mint: In this recipe, the star ingredient of the show is mint. The combination of mint-lentils-feta is out of this world.
- Cheese: I used feta cheese but goat cheese is also a great option. If you want this salad to be vegan simply omit feta cheese.
- The Onion Family: Red onion is sweet and will go well with the salad’s salt and tang. It can easily be swapped with any of its onion relatives: green onions, white or yellow onions, or shallots.
How To Prepare Quinoa and Lentils For Cooking
- Quinoa: Always start by rinsing quinoa with water before cooking. This will wash away the grain’s natural, bitter-tasting coating called ‘saponin’.
- Lentils: Before cooking lentils for salad, sift through them in a bowl. Remove any small pieces of debris or pebbles, which can sometimes get bagged along with the legumes. Finally, rinse lentils with water as an extra precaution.
How To Make
This Quinoa and lentil salad recipe is great in any season and can be easily prepared. It is filling and satisfying and does not take much time or effort to put together.
Follow these directions to have it ready in under 45 minutes from start to finish:
How To Cook Lentils And Quinoa Together:
When making this lentils quinoa salad recipe, you can either use pre-cooked quinoa (3 cups cooked from 1 cup raw) and pre-cooked lentils (2 cups cooked from 1 cup raw lentils) or cook them together.
I personally like to cook them together in the same pot as I find it to be more efficient. Here’s how to do it:
- Cook The Quinoa And Lentils: Place the rinsed quinoa and lentils in a medium-size saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the cooking liquid. You will need 3 cups of liquid. This can be either water or a combination of water or broth. I like to combine 2 cups water and 1 cup vegetable broth.
Cover with a lid and cook over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a boil.
- Let it simmer: Turn the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa and lentils have absorbed all of the liquid. Turn the heat off and let them rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Let it rest: Fluff the lentils and quinoa with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.
- Make the vinaigrette: While the quinoa and lentils are cooking make the vinaigrette and prepare the rest of the ingredients. I used my all-time favorite olive oil and lemon-based lemon vinaigrette recipe. It is made by whisking together fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic, salt and black pepper.
- Assemble: Add the rest of the ingredients; olives, red onion, fresh mint, and feta cheese, and drizzle it with the dressing. Gently toss and serve.
Making It Ahead of Time & Storage
- To make ahead: Lentil and quinoa recipes are the ultimate meal-prep accessory because they can be made well ahead of time and chill in your fridge for days. Add the cooked and cooled quinoa and lentils to individual airtight containers and top with the rest of the salad ingredients. Store the lemon vinaigrette separately. Store everything in your fridge for 3 to 5 days while enjoying the portions for weekday lunches.
- To store: Place leftovers in an airtight container and store in the fridge. They should be fresh up to 4 days.
A Few FAQs Answered:
You can serve this salad either way.
I would recommend against it, as canned lentils could take away from the salad’s freshness. They will save time, however, canned lentils could also be very mushy. If you do use them, drain and rinse them thoroughly before use.
This salad recipe is perfect when you are serving a large crowd. It gives you a good 6-8 servings (about 6-7 cups of salad). However, if you are serving it to a smaller crowd, you can easily halve the recipe.
A Few Dishes To Serve With This Salad
- Whole Roasted Chicken With Potatoes
- Mediterranean Lemon Chicken
- Meatballs And Potatoes
- Chicken With Fennel and Orange
More Quinoa Recipes You Might Like
- Check out all my Easy Quinoa Salads
- Mexican Quinoa Recipe
- Black Bean Quinoa Salad
- Quinoa Black Bean Tacos
- Quinoa Power Bowl
- Vegetable Quinoa Stew
- Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Quinoa Lentil Salad Recipe
For The Lentil Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup raw white red or tricolor quinoa (rinsed and drained)
- 1 cup green French lentils or green lentils rinsed and drained
- 3 cups of liquid* water, vegetable broth or a combination of the two
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 cup Kalamata olives chopped
- 1 cup red onion chopped
- 1 cup fresh mint loosely packed
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled
For The Lemon Vinaigrette
- ½ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 small cloves of garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Start with cooking quinoa and lentils: To do so, place quinoa, lentils, cooking liquid, and salt in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Cover it with the lid and cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Once it does, turn the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Turn the heat off and let it rest for 15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
- Add the rest of the ingredients; olives, red onion, mint, and feta cheese into the bowl.
- Make the vinaigrette by whisking together all the ingredients in a bowl or mason jar until emulsified.
- Drizzle the salad with the dressing. Give it a gentle toss.
- Taste for seasoning and acidity. If you like it saltier, add more salt. If you like it more citrusy, add more lemon juice.
- Serve while still warm.
- Alternatively, you can use pre-cooked quinoa and lentils for this salad. If you do so, please use 3 cups of cooked quinoa and 2 cups of cooked lentils.
- To Make Ahead: Add the cooked and cooled quinoa and lentils to individual airtight containers and top with the rest of the salad ingredients. Store the lemon vinaigrette separately. Store everything in your fridge for 3 to 5 days while enjoying the portions for weekday lunches.
- Should I serve it warm or cold? You can serve it either way.
- Can I Use Canned Lentils? I would recommend against it, as canned lentils could take away from the salad’s freshness. They will save time, however, canned lentils could also be very mushy. If you do use them, drain and rinse them thoroughly before use.
- Cut The Recipe In Half If It’s Too Much: This salad recipe is perfect when you are serving a large crowd. It gives you a good 6-8 servings (about 6-7 cups of salad). However, if you are serving it to a smaller crowd, you can easily halve the recipe.
This recipe was originally published in May 2020. It has been updated with a how-to recipe video in May 2021.