This Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad with a garlicky lemon dressing is the ONE you need to take to every potluck, picnic and/or party that you're invited to! It's loaded with healthy ingredients, can be made ahead and is irresistibly delicious (even to kale and lentil naysayers!)
I've been eyeing this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad over on the Bon Appétit website for months. It had a zillion fantastic reviews so I finally gathered the ingredients and gave it a go last week. Wow, SO good! Bon Appétit calls it the "Just Keeps Getting Better Lentil Salad". We call it "The BEST Lentil Salad EVER!".
Rave reviews, except...
I enjoy reading recipe reviews, as it really helps me to bypass many stumbling blocks. The reviews on Bon Appétit for this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad were mostly really great. The less-than-rave reviews were not for the salad itself but rather for the recipe directions. Reviewers complained the recipe instructions were confusing, complicated and out of order. Once I made the salad myself, I realized that it really wasn't complicated and tried to re-write it with simple, easy-to-follow directions.
A stellar ingredient list!
I love that this salad is loaded with healthy ingredients but it also bursts with bright, fresh, FABULOUS flavor. Here's a lineup of the wonderful ingredients:
- Kale - Kale is known as a "superfood" as it is highly nutrient-dense while also being very low-calorie. I love that kale is a blank pallet that can take on so many flavor personalities. The kale is more of a foundation in this recipe, allowing the other ingredients to shine.
- Black lentils - These shiny, ebony-hued lentils are also known as Beluga or "caviar lentils". They keep their shape well when cooked, making them perfect for salads like this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad. Black lentils provide lots of protein and fiber as well as important minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium, zinc and folate. For the amount of nutrients black lentils provide, the calorie count is low and their high protein content will keep you satiated for hours - great when you're trying to loose weight!
- Almonds - These golden brown nuts are also considered "a superfood", and boast an impressive list of beneficial nutrients. They're loaded with antioxidants that help prevent heart disease, cancer and inflammation.
- Lemon zest and fresh lemon juice - Both of these infuse the salad with bright citrus flavor.
- Green onions and garlic - These are great flavor boosters. Garlic and lemon are like two peas in a pod, each one enhancing the flavor of the other.
- Golden raisins - A little moister and plumper than regular raisins, golden raisins provide touches of sweetness with each bite - a nice contrast to the salty Feta and Castelvetrano olives.
- Cumin seeds - The whole seed from which ground cumin is derived, cumin seeds give the simple dressing for this Mediterranean Black Lentil Kale Salad a warm, complex flavor.
- Extra Virgin Olive oil - In addition to tasting delicious, consuming olive oil is good for your heart. Healthline explains that it's "rich in healthy monosaturated fats" and"contains large amounts of antioxidants", which "help reduce the risk of chronic disease".
In the preface article for this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad, Bon Appetit asks the question, “What can I make on Sunday night that will taste great for my 10:30 a.m. desk lunch on Wednesday?” Spoiler alert... it's this salad. Yes, it's great the day that you make it but it keeps really well and makes a fabulous, healthy lunch on those busy days when you're tempted to indulge in something quick and not-so-healthy.
How to serve this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad
We have enjoyed this delicious salad both as a side with grilled chicken and as a hearty lunch served with warm, fresh naan. It would be wonderful during the warm weather months paired with anything from the grill and will also work well as a fresh, healthy side with soup.
Ready for an amazingly delicious, healthy, hearty and unique new salad?
Café Tips for making this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad
- Black lentils are available at many larger grocery stores. They're reasonably priced at Whole Foods and Target carries them already cooked in a microwave pouch. Black lentils are also available online.
- For convenience's sake, I like to use a bag of triple-washed kale, available in the produce section of most larger grocery stores. It's not only washed but most of the tough cores and stems have already been removed. I like to use the common curly kale as it gives the salad a bright green presentation but Tuscan kale could also be used which is darker green in color.
- If you can't find black lentils, French green lentils will also work for this Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad. I wouldn't use red, brown or green lentils as they get mushy when cooked making them ideal for soup rather than salads.
- Cumin seed is what's used to make ground cumin. It's available in the spice section of most grocery stores. If the grocery store where you shop has a Hispanic section you'll often find it there as well (and much more reasonable in price!).
- This recipe calls for Castelvetrano olives. Castelvetrano olives Castelvetrano olives are vibrant green in color and are grown in Sicily. They have a rich, buttery flavor and a meaty texture. You can find Castelvetrano olives at most larger grocery stores and in specialty stores like Whole Foods and Fresh Market. You can also find Castelvetrano olives online.
- There is an optional ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper in this recipe. It adds just a tiny bit of heat. If you prefer, you can omit this.
- This recipe calls for golden raisins. Generally, when you purchase golden raisins, they are nice and plump. With time, however, they can get dried out. To rehydrate and plum them, place them in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup with 2 teaspoons of water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 30-40 seconds then allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes (keep covered). Uncover and use as desired.
Thought for the day:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise Him.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations, and ideas for variations.
This Mediterranean Black Lentil Salad is the ONE you need to take to every potluck, picnic and/or party that you're invited to! It's loaded with healthy ingredients, can be made ahead and is irresistibly delicious (even to kale and lentil naysayers!)
- 1 ½ cups uncooked black lentils (you can also use French green lentils)
- 10 ounces curly kale (I use a 10-ounce bag of triple-washed curly kale) any tough stems and cores removed (or clean it yourself)
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium-size green onions thinly sliced, (reserve the green parts in a small bowl)
- 2 medium garlic cloves finely minced
- ⅔ cup raw or toasted whole almonds roughly chopped
- finely grated zest from one medium lemon reserve the lemon juice to use later
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 ounces block Feta
- ¾ cup pitted Castelvetrano olives torn into 3-4 pieces each
- ½ cup golden raisins (see Café Tips if your raisins are dried out)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add 2 teaspoons kosher salt and the black lentils (most of the salt will be drained off but some of it will season the lentils).
Return the water to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. Cook, occasionally stirring until lentils are tender but still al dente, 15–25 minutes. Start testing at 15 minutes and every few minutes after that. When the lentils are tender, drain and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, slice the kale into thin ribbons. (I use pre-washed kale. To slice it, I place the kale on a large cutting board and grab a bunch in my hand. Using a long, sharp knife, I thinly slice the kale into tiny ribbons, moving my hand back as I go to expose more kale.)
Transfer the kale to a large bowl as it is sliced. Continue until all the kale is thinly sliced.
In a small skillet or sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the white parts of the green onions and the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add the chopped almonds and lemon zest and cook, stirring occasionally, until the almonds are golden.
Turn off the heat and add the cumin seeds and crushed red pepper (if using). Stir to combine. (the residual heat from the oil will bloom those spices and bring out their flavors)
Strain the oil mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk well to combine.
Spread almond/cumin seed mixture on a paper towel-lined plate. Season lightly with kosher salt and let cool (the nuts get crunchier as they cool!).
Add the lentils to the kale in the bowl. Drizzle the dressing mixture over the kale and lentils. Toss well to coat everything with the dressing. Add the olives and the reserved sliced scallion greens (reserve some for the topping) and toss again. Taste and add a bit of kosher salt if needed then toss again.
Transfer the mixture to a serving platter or bowl, if desired.
Crumble the Feta over the salad and gently toss the salad. Top with the remaining almond mixture and the reserved scallion greens. Serve and enjoy!
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn't have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.