Lentil Salad with Feta and a Lemon Turmeric Sunshine Dressing
This post is all about how to take a very basic ingredient from your kitchen and turn it into a (healthy) gourmet salad. Are you excited to try this out with me?
The basic ingredient I am referring to here are lentils. Given that the vegan revolution is spreading through the world, lentils have started making an appearance in a variety of healthy dishes in restaurant menus.
Indian cuisine puts to use a spectacular variety of lentils (dals, split or whole) in dishes like dals, khichdi, as a filling inside breads / puri and so on. But mostly dals, which are consumed on an everyday basis, pretty much across India.
When we talk about lentils and Indian cuisine, salad is not the first thing that comes to mind. One of the only lentil based salad that I can think of is kosumalli where split skinned yellow mung dal is mixed along with cucumber or carrots. This makes a light dish that heralds the onset of summer. A spoonful of this salad is served as a part of a larger meal.
Lentil Salad with Feta
Brown lentils or whole masoor / sabut masoor is the hero ingredient here. While a curry using this dal along with rice is my favourite weeknight dinner, these lentils are the perfect Indian pantry ingredient for a lentil salad.
When you cook the whole masoor just right, it retains its shape well enough to be tossed into a salad. I make sure not to pressure cook the soaked lentils, but just steam cook (minus the weight), for it to be cooked just right.
To complement the earthy flavour of this lentil, I have used fresh and flavourful ingredients like green apple and cucumber, all brought together with a sunshiny lemon turmeric dressing.
A few tips for this Lentil Salad with Feta
Ensure that the lentils are not overcooked. Please follow the instructions on cooking these lentils given in the recipe below.
Make sure to douse your salad with plenty of dressing as lentils are flavour sponges. Allow this salad to sit for a while. Lentils will absorb all the flavours of your dressing as well as the juices from the other ingredients like cucumbers and apple.
The feta cheese adds a sharp saltiness that pairs wonderfully with these lentils. For a vegan version of this lentil salad, simply omit feta and use some crumbled smoked tofu instead.
Want to check out another healthy lunch salad – calorie counted recipe? Here it is
Here are the list of ingredients that pair great with whole lentils
- Olive oil
- Feta cheese
- Cumin seeds
- Runny eggs
Choose 3-4 ingredients from this list to make your own version of a lentil salad
Substitutes for whole masoor in this lentil salad with feta — If you don’t find whole masoor outside of India, you can substitute it with Puy lentils.
Other lentils you can use in this salad are —
- lightly blanched sprouted moong
- lightly blanched sprouted moth beans
If you have stocked up on whole masoor, this is the other very popular Saffrontrail recipe that you must try out – Whole Masoor Dal Curry
Lentil Salad with Feta
- 1/2 cup dry whole masoor soaked for 5-6 hours
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup julienned beetroot raw beet is fine
- 1 European cucumber julienned
- 1/2 green apple sliced
- 1 cup spinach leaves choose baby spinach or tender small leaves
- 100 grams feta cheese cut into small cubes
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- pinch of salt
- toasted cumin seeds
- edible flower petals I used Nasturtium
- To prepare the lentil salad with feta, start by cooking the lentils. Drain the soaked masoor. Cook on stove top / pressure cooker or Instant pot until just cooked and retaining its shape. For pressure cooking, place masoor with enough water to cover, a bay leaf and 1/2 tsp salt. Close the pressure cooker lid and remove the weight. After a few minutes, steam starts escaping from the nozzle. Switch off after 5 minutes.
- Open lid and drain the cooked lentils in a colander. Allow to cool for a bit.
- Wash and dry the greens (spinach or any other).
- In a shallow bowl, layer half the lentils. Scatter spinach leaves, beet, cucumber and apple over this. Top with the remaining lentils.
- Scatter feta cubes over the salad.
- In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric and salt vigorously until thick. Pour this all over the salad.
- Garnish with toasted cumin seeds and nasturtium petals.
- If using regular cucumber, peel and discard seeds before cutting into thin batons.
- Canned lentils can be used to put together this salad with hardly any prep time
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