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. 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 on its own, or you can bulk it up a number of ways to turn it into its own meal.

Marinated Lentil Salad

Overhead view of a large bowl of Marinated Lentil Salad with a fork stuck in the side

What Kind of Lentils Work Best for This Salad?

I suggest a firm variety, like brown or green. I used brown lentils, which only take about 20 minutes to cook in boiling water. Green lentils take much longer, about 45 minutes. If you’re unsure of what type you have, check the cooking instructions on the package. I do not suggest using red, yellow, or orange lentils for this recipe, as they do not hold their shape when cooked.

Make Your Marinated Lentil Salad a 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 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.

Tomato Options

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.

Meal Prep Ready!

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

 
Print Recipe
4.94 from 47 votes

Marinated Lentil Salad

Marinated Lentil Salad is bright and flavorful, and infused with bold flavors like garlic and lemon. 
Keyword: meal prep, Side Dish
Total Cost: $6.56 recipe / $1.09 serving
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. Always stir the salad just before serving to redistribute the dressing and flavors.
Tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!

Close up of Marinated Lentil Salad in a bowl, from the side.

Close up of a forkful of Marinated Lentil Salad, with the full bowl in the background.

Step by Step Photos

Cooked Lentils and drained lentils in a colander

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 (20 minutes for brown lentils). Drain the lentils in a colander and rinse briefly with cool water to cool them off. 

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.

Chopped Parsley, Halved Tomatoes, Diced Onion on a cutting board

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 a Glass 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 onto salad ingredients

Pour on the prepared Lemon Garlic Dressing…

Mixed Marinated Lentil Salad in a glass bowl with a wooden spoon

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!

Finished Marinated Lentil Salad in a white bowl, on a grey napkin, with a fork stuck in the side

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!