Marinated Lentil Salad

I’m trying to stock my fridge with some healthy options for the week ahead because I didn’t do so well last week (I made a BBQ chicken pizza this weekend, OOPS). So, this morning I threw together some of my favorite flavors (garlic, lemon, feta) into an easy Marinated Lentil Salad. This salad makes a great side dish or you can bulk it up a number of ways to turn it into its own meal.

If you want to bulk this up, you could add any of the following: chopped rotisserie chicken, chickpeas, chopped cucumber, chopped bell pepper, or even cooked and cooled rice. Serve it as a salad or stuff it into a pita! I especially like to mix a dollop of hummus with the Marinated lentil salad, which gives even more garlicky flavor and a wonderful texture contrast to the lentils.

The most expensive ingredient in this salad for me was the pint of grape tomatoes. They can be quite pricey, so if you want to cut costs even further just replace the grape tomatoes with about 3 diced Roma tomatoes, or whatever variety of tomato is least expensive at your grocery store. I tend to like Roma the best as a second choice here because the flesh is firm and they hold up well to the salad.

This salad tastes great right after mixing it all up, but it gets even better with time in the fridge (leftovers FTW!). Just remember to give it a quick stir before serving to redistribute that wonderful dressing.

Marinated Lentil Salad

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. BudgetBytes.com

4.96 from 23 votes
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Marinated Lentil Salad

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. 

Total Cost $6.56 recipe / $1.09 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 1 cup each

Ingredients

LEMON GARLIC DRESSING

  • 1 lemon $0.59
  • 1/4 cup olive oil $0.44
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper

SALAD

  • 1 cup dry brown lentils $0.40
  • 1/2 bunch parsley $0.40
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes $2.99
  • 1/4 small red onion $0.24
  • 2 oz feta, crumbled $1.12

Instructions

  1. Cook the lentils according to the package directions. For most brown lentils, bring 3 cups of water to boil in a pot, add the lentils, then continue to boil for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Drain the lentils in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water until they are cooled.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the lemon garlic dressing. Use a microplane, zester, or small-holed cheese grater to remove about 1 Tbsp of the lemon's zest (the thin, yellow, outer layer of the peel). Set the zest aside. Juice the lemon and measure 1/4 cup of the juice to use for the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, oregano, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Set the dressing aside.
  3. Rinse the parsley well, shake off as much water as possible, then pull the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop the parsley leaves. Cut the grape tomatoes in half. Finely dice the red onion.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, cooled, and well drained, transfer them to a large bowl. Add the chopped parsley, tomatoes, red onion, crumbled feta, lemon zest, and the prepared dressing. Stir to combine the ingredients and coat everything in dressing.
  5. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Always stir the salad just before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. BudgetBytes.com

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. BudgetBytes.com

Step by Step Photos

Cooked Lentils

Begin by cooking one cup of dry lentils. Lentils are incredibly easy to cook. It’s just like pasta. Bring a large pot of water to boil (for one cup lentils, make it at least 3 cups water), add the lentils, then cook until tender. Drain the lentils in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water to cool them off. Most brown lentils only need about 20 minutes to cook, but be sure to check the package directions because other varieties, like green or French lentils, take closer to 45 minutes to soften. I do not recommend red or yellow lentils for this recipe as they break down really fast and become mush. Not the ideal texture for this salad.

Lemon Juice and Zest

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the Lemon Garlic Dressing. Remove about 1 Tbsp zest from the lemon using a microplane, zester, or small-holed cheese grater. Set the zest aside for later. Juice the lemon and use about 1/4 cup for the dressing. 

Lemon Garlic Dressing

To the 1/4 cup lemon juice, add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Whisk the ingredients together. Set the dressing aside so it has a few minutes to blend.

Parsley Tomato Onion

Prepare the vegetables for the salad. Rinse 1/2 bunch of parsley and shake off as much water as possible. Pull the leaves from the stems, then give them a rough chop (about 1 cup once chopped). Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Finely dice the red onion. I really don’t like including small amounts like “1/4 red onion” in recipes, but red onion is one of those ingredients that is very potent and you really only need a small amount. To avoid wasting the rest of the onion, consider adding it to salads, pizzas, frittatas, or pickling the onions for longer storage.

Lentil Salad Ingredients in Bowl

Once the lentils are cooked, cooled, and drained, add them to a large bowl along with the lemon zest, chopped parsley, tomatoes, diced onion, and 2oz. crumbled feta.

Pour on Lemon Garlic Dressing

Pour on the prepared Lemon Garlic Dressing…

Mixed Marinated Lentil Salad

Then just stir everything up until evenly combined and coated in dressing. The salad is pretty irresistible as is, but it gets even better as it sits in the fridge and those lentils absorb all that awesome flavor!

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. BudgetBytes.com

This is not going to last me long… I can’t stop scooping forkfuls into my mouth! In reality, though, this Marinated Lentil Salad makes about 6 cups, so depending on how you serve it, it’s about six servings. Ideas for bulking it out further can be found in the intro! Enjoy!