Lentil Salad Recipe with Cucumber and Mint is a simple and refreshing side dish or light lunch. I’ll show you how to cook healthy dried lentils so they’re tender, not mushy!
My lentil salad is a perfect choice for a summer salad buffet
One of my favorite ways to serve dinner in summer is with a simple selection of salads. It’s refreshing and easy to prep ahead of time. We set out a selection of salads (store bought or homemade) and heap our plates with small helpings of each. It’s the most elegant way to eat, and perfect for entertaining. Choose a variety of different types of salads, I like to use about 6.
- A bean salad adds textural interest and a protein boost. You can use a single bean, like lentils, chickpeas, or edamame, or go with traditional mixed beans like my Mediterranean bean salad.
- A pasta salad contributes carbs that help make the meal satisfying. My Mediterranean pasta salad with tuna, or my simple Asiago pasta salad are both good choices.
- I always include one salad that features meat or fish like my meat lover’s pasta salad or an elegant niçoise.
- Chopped salads are good for buffets because they’re so easy to serve and they tend to keep well. Try a chopped Greek salad, or chopped Israeli salad.
- No summer salad assortment is complete without some fruit ~ melon salads are light and refreshing.
- I always include a simple ‘green’ salad for a light fresh element.
Dried lentils are are super quick to cook
You don’t have to soak them overnight like so many other dried beans, so you can be spontaneous with a salad like this. The beans will cook in the time it takes you to prep the rest of the ingredients.
Tips for cooking lentils for salad
- Choose green or brown lentils, the red variety becomes too soft for salad.
- Rinse the beans and add them to a sauce pan. Cover with 2 inches of cold water.
- Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered just until tender. The only way to do this is to taste them often. They should be firm but tender. You may need to add more water to keep the beans covered during cooking.
- Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and begin to chill the beans.
2 tricks for making raw onions less harsh and more digestible
I like to use red onions because they’re milder than yellow or white onions, but even so, they can benefit from one of these taming techniques. Try this with scallions, too.
- Soak your onions in cold water while you cook the lentils. They’ll stay nice and crisp and the cold water draws out and neutralizes the sulfur compounds in the onion. Be sure to let them soak for a minimum of 10 minutes, but they can even go overnight. This trick works for any recipe that calls for raw onions of any kind.
- Quick pickle thinly sliced onions in a combination of equal parts vinegar and water. Spices are optional. Heat the solution to a boil then pour over the onions. Let them cool, then refrigerate. The brine will neutralize the sulfur and make the onions slightly softer.
Lentil and Cucumber Salad
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/2 English cucumber (the kind that comes wrapped in plastic)
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely sliced
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Cover the lentils with 2 inches of cold water and cook until tender. Drain and put into a bowl. Toss immediately with the oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Dice the cucumber and add to the bowl with the lentils. No need to peel an English or Persian cucumber because the skin is thin. If you use a regular cucumber, you'll need to peel it.
- Add the onions, tomatoes, and mint to the bowl and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill until ready to serve. Toss before serving, and check for seasonings.
Variations on this lentil salad
- If you're not a fan of mint, try using fresh basil or even dried Italian herbs.
- Use canned chickpeas in place of lentils.
- Reader Suzann suggests adding feta cheese to the salad, which I think is a great idea.