I eat a lot of salads… which means that I also eat a lot of mediocre salads. This, however, is not one of those salads. When creating this recipe for our upcoming Plant-Based RE:SET, I wanted to take all the best parts of a salad and combine them into one recipe. More importantly, I wanted a salad recipe that would actually keep me full until dinner time. That’s always the issue with a salad right? While delicious, they sometimes don’t do the job of preventing a late afternoon forage for snacks in my pantry between meetings. So, I took some of my favorite ingredients and came up with this black lentil salad. Take some protein-packed lentils, sweet and hearty carrots and Brussels sprouts, tangy onions, and a bunch of fresh herbs, and you’ve got a lunchtime winner—trust me on this one!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a fan of greens-based salads. I much prefer a chopped salad or pasta salad where the greens are supporting actors rather than the star. So when I thought about constructing this salad, I first wanted to focus on the ingredients that would really level this up. First, the roasted vegetables.
The best part about a salad with roasted veggies is that you can roast everything ahead of time, and store it in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble. Hot tip: Let your veggies come to room temperature or sear quickly on a skillet when you’re ready to serve your salad—it’ll make a huge difference in flavor and save a little prep time. For this salad, I used carrots and Brussels sprouts. I like the way carrots roast up, becoming all caramelized and really concentrating their flavor. Plus, when drizzled with a little honey, their sweetness works really well as a balance against all the other savory ingredients. The sprouts add a little heft to the salad and make it feel a bit more hearty in the best way. Plus, I feel like everyone is into Brussels sprouts these days. If you’re still not convinced, I brought my mom onto team Brussels during the holidays.
How to get really crispy Brussels sprouts:
To get really crispy Brussels sprouts, drizzle olive oil and spices over them, tossing to evenly coat. Place them cut side down onto a sheet tray with plenty of space between them. If you’re not giving them enough space, they begin to steam each other rather than crisping up. You want to use really high heat and flip halfway through baking. Be mindful, my brother has certainly burned a batch or two, so keep a close eye on your Brussels as they roast and you’ll be rewarded with goodness. They taste so good when they’re all charred.
You can absolutely swap the vegetables out for what you might have on hand. I think it would be delicious with roasted sweet potatoes or radishes, or even beets! Use what you have in the fridge or pantry and make this recipe your own!
To keep this salad really satisfying and appetite-filling, I leaned on lentils. I grew up with a whole rainbow of lentils—they were always in my mom’s pantry. From moong daal to urad daal to masoor daal, we had lentils almost every single night. My mom was actually an OG adopter of a black lentil salad. She would just use cooked lentils and top them with a little lemon juice and spices like chaat masala, eating it as a quick lunchtime dish. While I’m not quite there, I do love them as an ingredient in this salad. Not only are lentils delicious, but they’re also packed with protein that makes for a great meat alternative. I also love how lentils can be great vehicles for flavor. For this salad, not only did I cook a batch of green lentils ahead of time, but I marinated them to add extra flavor—low effort but highly delicious. Keep a container of marinated lentils in your fridge as part of your meal prep routine and serve as a side dish or a way to up the protein in any dish you might be making.
For added flavor (yes, I really wanted to take this salad over the top), I went with crisp and tangy red onions. You could leave them off if you don’t like raw onions, or sub with shallots or chopped green onion and a bunch of fresh herbs. While I scoff at greens-based salads, I love herb-based salads. Using mint and basil and cilantro as greens in their own right is highly underrated. I mean, they have built-in flavor! Pack them into this salad for extra deliciousness and freshness. And while this might be a plant-based recipe, I did top it with some goat cheese because I like a little creaminess in my salads. There are some great dairy-free and plant-based cheese options out there these days, too so feel free to substitute if you like.
This black lentil salad is a keeper, and I’m excited to have it as part of my lunchtime routine. Let me know if you make it and how you made it your own.
Scroll on for the recipe, which is part of our Plant-Based RE:SET—a new 5-day meal plan coming to your inbox on January 21st! Packed with delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes, this is a week’s worth of meals that’ll leave you feeling lighter, brighter, and energized. Sign up here!