When you’re really hungry, just having a salad can be risky. While fresh and nutritious, many salads lack the fiber, protein, and fat that will keep you satisfied until your next meal. The challenge of building a hearty and filling salad can be especially tricky if you eat a plant-based diet. Enter: this lentil beet salad.
Legumes for protein
If you’re picturing a mushy pile of lentil soup on top of your baby kale, we’ll stop you right there. There are many different types of lentils, and some are better than others for adding to salads. Some are perfect for soups, while Black lentils and French lentils are best for non-soup applications; they’re sturdy and hold their shape when cooked. In fact, these legumes look positively elegant when paired with colorful veggies, fresh herbs, and a simple vinaigrette.
A cup of cooked lentils provides nearly 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. The soluble fiber in lentils helps stabilize your blood sugar, while the insoluble fiber promotes healthy digestion. In addition to protein and fiber, lentils are also a fantastic source of iron, which is especially important for those who are vegetarian or vegan. Further sweetening the deal, lentils contain a broad range of phytochemicals that protect against diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
A different kind of salad
This lentil beet salad challenges the notion that salads have to be chock full of leafy greens. French lentils, beets, cucumber, mint leaves, and pine nuts, along with a zippy vinaigrette, combine to create a fresh and flavorful salad that will leave your taste buds and hunger level satisfied. Mint can help with digestion and bloating. Beets have so many benefits, including vitamin C and vitamin B and magnesium. Just don’t forget that you ate them!
1 cup French lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 small golden beets, trimmed
2 small red beets, trimmed
¼ cup pine nuts
Small handful of fresh mint leaves
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
½ teaspoon garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Combine the French lentils with 2½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the lentils are tender about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse the lentils with cool water and return to the saucepan.
Meanwhile, steam the beets. Fill a pot with an inch of water and fit with a steamer basket. Slice the beets into ½-inch wedges and arrange them in a single layer. Cover and cook until beets are just fork tender. When cool enough to handle, gently peel the skin off the beets.
Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds. Slice the cucumber into ½-inch half moons.
To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, garlic, dijon mustard, and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk to combine and adjust flavors to taste. Pour some over the lentils and toss to coat.
To assemble, add a scoop of lentils to each plate. Top with beets, cucumber, pine nuts, and mint leaves. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing and serve.
Recipe and photography by Kate Kasbee
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