The Secret to a Better Lentil Salad

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

For the longest time, I struggled with lentils. I used to think, Give me chickpeas, white beans, or really any kind of bean before lentils any day. I never felt they tasted like much, even after I cooked and spiced them lovingly in the kitchen.

I wanted to be the girl who ate, and enjoyed, lentil salads, but I really just couldn’t get there. After many attempts I gave up, and haven’t had a bag of the legumes in my pantry for years. Well, it turns out I was preparing them wrong all those times: I should have been marinating those lentils.

You Should Be Marinating Your Cooked Lentils

The truth is lentils needs a lot of flavor to make them taste great. I spiced and seasoned them well, but it never did the job because those flavors never actually got inside the lentils themselves — they just coated their outsides. The trick, instead, is to flavor them from the inside out by marinating them.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Whisk up your vinaigrette of choice (I like this, this, and this one if you need some inspiration) and toss your cooked lentils in it — be generous about it, as you want them to have plenty to work with. They’ll need to still be warm from cooking for this to be effective. Go ahead and add any other salad components to the mix too, like raw or roasted veggies, chopped herbs, nuts, dried fruit, or cheese.

The lentils will immediately start soaking up the flavor of the vinaigrette, but if you have the time to spare, let them marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to achieve the best results. Then dig in and instantly forget the days you shunned the legume. They’ll forgive you.

2 Great Ways to Cook Lentils