Lentils are often an overlooked ingredient, and apart from lentil soup, many have never even cooked lentils at home. Lentils are very popular in Umbria, Italy, where we live part of each year. In Umbria, lentils are used in soups, sauces, salads, and are also braised and enjoyed as a side dish. If you have never cooked dried beans, also known as legumes, at home, lentils are a great place to start.
Lentils do not need to be soaked ahead of time like other dried beans and cook in just over twenty-five minutes. Lentils are an inexpensive source of protein, are high in fiber, and are packed with B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.
Lentils are edible seeds from the legume family and can range in color from yellow and red to green, black, or brown. In Umbria, the small beige lentils from Castelluccio are what we use most often as they hold their shape well when cooked and do not become mushy.
I was recently at a farmer’s market, and one stall was selling bunches of fresh herbs. I miss my herb garden so much over the winter that I got carried away and bought too many fresh herbs. To use my herbs before they spoiled, I decided to include them in a big salad, a lentil salad to be specific.
Lentils are an excellent base for any salad and add texture and just a slightly nutty flavor. I added chopped bell peppers, green onions, pomegranate arils, and lots of fresh, chopped herbs. To dress my salad, I wanted a vibrantly flavored dressing to bring everything to life. I decided to use an apple cider vinaigrette made with just a dash of Dijon mustard.
This salad stores well, so it would be a perfect option to take to potlucks or picnics and will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days. My granddaughter even packed it into a mason jar and took it to her High School for lunch!
- 1 Pound Dry Beige or Green Lentils
- 4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
- 6 Green Onions, Chopped
- 3 Colored Bell Peppers, Cut Into Small Dice
- Arils From 1 Large Pomegranate
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 3/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Mint Leaves
- 1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
- 1 Cup Chopped Lightly Toasted Walnuts
- 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 4 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Raw Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Pomegranate Molasses
- Salt & Pepper To Taste
- Rinse the lentils and place in a saucepan with the broth.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 25 minutes or until just tender to the bite.
- Place in a colander to drain and cool.
- Place the onions, peppers, pomegranate arils, fresh herbs and walnuts in a large salad bowl, then add the cooled lentils and mix.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until blended, then pour over the salad and toss.
- Serve and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 658Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 32gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 239mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 11gSugar: 18gProtein: 33g