Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad

$4.78 recipe / $0.80 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.72 from 14 votes
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You know how I love kale.
You know how I love lentils.
You know how I love sweet potatoes.

This salad has them all together in one bowl! Yes! It has everything you need – greens, beans, and vegetables. I love it. You can eat a big portion as a meal or just have a smaller salad-sized portion as a side.

I saw a picture of a kale and lentil salad somewhere recently and didn’t think to bookmark so I could go back to check out the recipe (grrr!), but the image stuck with me. So, all week long I’ve been trying to come up with my own version of what I imagine I saw in that picture. The sticking point was the dressing. I had two options and hemmed and hawed with them for a couple of days. Do I go subtle with cumin to accent the sweet potatoes or do I go for a flavor punch with a dijon vinaigrette? In the end I decided to go with a very subtle non-dressing of just some cumin, cider vinegar, and salt and pepper. I did this to allow the flavor of the vegetables to shine through and because I paired it with a roasted pork loin that had a lot of flavor. If I have a main dish that is very flavorful, sometimes I like a more subtle side.

Anyway, if you want something that has a real flavor punch, simply whip up a basic dijon vinaigrette, like this one, and drizzle it over top. It will be awesome, I’m sure.

One more note, while this salad is good warm just after it is prepared, it’s not so good reheated. The flavors just kind of melted together and lost their individuality, which wasn’t fun. Leftovers of this salad should definitely be served cold.

Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad

Top view of a plate of Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad with a wooden spoon on the side

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Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad

4.72 from 14 votes
This salad has everything you need in one bowl – greens, beans, and vegetables. Serve it as a side or a larger portion for a hearty vegan meal.
Servings 4 to 6
Prep 30 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Total 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 medium sweet potato ( $0.91)
  • 1 medium red onion ($1.49)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided ($0.64)
  • salt & pepper to taste ($0.05)
  • 1 cup brown lentils ($0.31)
  • 1 bunch curly leaf kale ($1.19)
  • 1 clove garlic ($0.08)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ($0.06)


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potato and then cut it into one-inch cubes. Cut the red onion into thick strips.
  • Place the sweet potato cubes and red onion slices onto a baking sheet covered with foil. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over top and then toss the vegetables to coat. Sprinkle a small amount of salt and pepper over top. Roast the vegetables for 45 minutes, or until they are tender and the edges are slightly brown.
  • Meanwhile, bring a medium sauce pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Measure out one cup of brown lentils and then sort through them to remove any stones or debris. Once the water reaches a full boil, add the lentils. Allow the pot to come back up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and let it continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Use a fork to retrieve a couple lentils and then taste them to make sure they are tender. Once they are tender, drain the lentils in a colander. You can return the lentils to the pot, with the heat turned off, until ready to use.
  • Pull the kale leaves from their woody stems and tear them into bite-sized pieces. Rinse the kale well in a colander.
  • Mince a clove of garlic and add it to a large pot along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the garlic over medium-low heat for about two minutes, or until it is slightly softened. Add the rinsed kale leaves and saute just until the kale is about half way wilted (or wilted to your liking).
  • Once the kale is wilted to the point that you like, turn the heat off. Add the drained lentils and the roasted sweet potato and red onion. Toss until everything is combined.
  • Either add a dijon vinaigrette or add the cumin, cider vinegar, and some salt and pepper to taste. Start with just a half tablespoon of cider vinegar and add more if desired. Toss the salad to distribute the dressing or seasonings, and then serve.

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Serving: 1ServingCalories: 355.63kcalCarbohydrates: 42.08gProtein: 13.85gFat: 15.95gSodium: 292.93mgFiber: 7.48g
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Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad plated with meat on a plate

Step by Step Photos

sweet potato and onion on baking sheet lined with tin foil, ready to roast

Begin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Peel the sweet potato and then cut it into one-inch chunks. Slice the red onion into fairly thick strips. Place both on a baking sheet covered with foil, drizzle with olive oil, and then toss to coat. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over top. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until they’re tender and a little brown on the edges.

measuring cup of brown lentils

While the sweet potato and onion are roasting, prepare the lentils. Brown lentils cook in about 20 minutes, whereas green or French lentils take closer to 45, so make sure to cook accordingly. Measure out one cup and then sort through them to make sure there are no pebbles or debris. An easy way to do this is to spread them out on a baking sheet and give them a quick look over.

lentils in pot with boiling water

Bring a medium pot of water up to a full, rolling boil. When it reaches a boil, add the sorted lentils. Let the pot come back up to a full boil, then turn the heat down a little and let it continue to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, test the lentils to make sure they’re tender. You want them to be tender, but not so mushy that they’re falling apart. Drain the lentils in a colander.

rinsing kale in colander

While the lentils are cooking (and the vegetables are still roasting), tear the kale leaves off of their woody stems and into bite-sized pieces. Make sure to give them a really good rinse to get rid of sand and bugs.

garlic and oil in pot

Mince a clove of garlic and add it to a large pot (large enough to hold all of the raw kale), along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook the garlic over medium-low heat for a couple of minutes, or just until it is softened (but not brown).

kale and lentils added to pot

Okay, this is where you’ll want to do as I say and not as I did. Add the rinsed kale to the pot and let it cook until wilted FIRST, then add the lentils. Adding them at the same time, as I did, only makes the lentils break down a bit from all of the stirring. I thought the heat from the lentils would help wilt the kale, but nah, it didn’t really do much. The heat should still be medium-low as you wilt the kale, but you can turn it off as soon as you get the kale to the point that you like it. You don’t want to OVER cook the kale.

roasted sweet potato onion on baking sheet

The sweet potatoes and red onion should be about done now. See? Tender and just slightly browned around the edges. The reason you want to cut the red onion kind of thick is so that they don’t burn before the sweet potato has a chance to cook.

sweet potato and onion added to pot with other ingredients

Add the roasted sweet potatoes and red onion to the pot and toss to combine.

seasoning added to salad in pot

Now, if you want a really subtle salad, you can just add some cumin, cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste, as I did. OR, if you want a super flavor burst salad, add some dijon vinaigrette and toss to coat.

Wilted Kale and Lentil Salad plated on plate with meat and a fork on the side

It was an absolutely PERFECT side salad to my roasted pork loin!! Add some white wine in that glass and I’m in heaven.

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  1. I used a half cup of lentils and it was perfect. I think a full cup would be way too many. This makes 2-3 large entree sized servings. 

  2. Do you think frozen kale would work in this recipe since it’s being cooked? Thanks!

    1. I think you could probably do this with frozen kale. I kind of only half-wilted my kale so it still had a lot of body, so if you use frozen kale it will definitely be more wilted and flat. But I’m sure it will still be delicious!

  3. This was delicious! I was so pleased! I have leftovers because I cook  for one,and forgot to ashes… but that’s great!! It’s will make a fantastic lunch. 

  4. The onions and dressing made this taste subtlety sweet, which gave it a nice balance. A couple of things I adjusted: I added 1/4 cup of water when wilting the kale, it wasn’t eilting at first and the garlic was burning, so a little bit of water remedied that. I also took the onions out of the oven early because they were starting to burn. I substituted balsamic vinaigrette with the apple cider vinaigrette and it was tasty! I would recommend either just using a half cup of lentils or using two sweet potatoes so the portions are better balanced. Great recipe that also is super healthy! :)

  5. I’m going to make this tonight as a main dish! I am currently eating kind of vegan/no grains for 10 days, so this will be perfect. I may make my husband a piece of grilled chicken on the side so he doesn’t starve.

  6. This turned out amazing. I subbed farro for lentils, which turned out delish. The olive oil, vinegar, cumin dressing is perfect – doesn’t overpower the already amazing salad. I exclusively cook from this blog now because I rarely, maybe never, have made something that wasn’t awesome!!!

  7. Hola! I’ve been following your web site for a long time now and
    finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a
    shout out from Kingwood Tx! Just wanred to say keep up
    the exellent work!

  8. Holy yum, another winner. I didn’t have red wine vinegar on hand for the dressing, so I used white wine vinegar but then ended up adding some apple cider vinegar as well because it’s my favorite and I have a problem.

  9. Lady, I haven’t made a bad thing by you yet! Keep up the great work, this was delicious, and I took advantage of a work-from-home day to make myself a healthy lunch without having to venture out in the snow! Thanks so much!

  10. This blows my mind… I had never been a big fan of kale, but this looked so good that I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did! The kale turned out nice and crunchy, but not tough, bland and icky like I was afraid of. Now I’m full and satisfied with a healthy dinner. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

  11. I’m a beginner cook and had no problem throwing together this recipe, and it’s delicious! Also, im not a fan of kale but loved the taste with spinach leaves substituted in. My friend suggested maybe sprinkling a little goat cheese on top for next time!