Sometimes the most delicious recipes come out of thin air. Case in point: grilled lentil salad. Last week my hubby and I were at a loss for what to have for dinner. I didn’t want to go to the grocery store because I had a full fridge.
The problem was, I went to the grocery store without any kind of plan as to what my meals for the week would be. I don’t usually do this, but when I do, it almost always ends up with me stringing together the hodge podge of produce, protein, and grain I did pick up in any way that remotely makes sense. Luckily, this time not only did it make sense, it was utterly delicious!
We have a charcoal grill, which is great because of the flavor we get when we grill anything, but not so great for the time it takes to get ready. So, when we grill, I want to grill everything. I figure, if we’re going to the trouble to turn it on, why not use it!
After putting our heads together, we decided to make this grilled lentil salad. I cannot lie, the original idea was really Michael’s, but then I thought of this grilled panzanella salad I made last year and thought, why couldn’t I do something similar with lentils? Turns out, you can! And it’s delicious!
You could really use whatever veggies you have on hand, but red peppers, onions, and zucchini offered a nice mix of flavors and textures. You can also choose how charred you want them, I like my veggies really charred, especially with a charcoal flavor, but if you don’t, just take a couple minutes off of grilling time.
Lentils are great. Yummy and versatile. Plus they are nutritional powerhouses. We try to incorporate lots of lentils into out diets, but you have to be creative. No one likes a big bowl of plain ol lentils. Green lentils work best for this recipe because they stand up well in a salad. You could also use black lentils, but red lentils won’t hold together enough to be tossed in this salad.
The dressing for this salad is tangy, a little spicy, and works great with the lentils and veggies. Once you taste it you’ll probably also want to put it on green salad, dip grilled chicken into it, or use it for one of a million other things for which it would also be really delicious!
Make sure to pour it on the salad while everything is still hot so that it can soak in and coat everything. Speaking of hot, a great thing about this salad is that it can be served hot, room temperature, or cold. It would also be great to take to a picnic or potluck since it doesn’t need to be refrigerated and will hold up well even after a few hours.
In every bite of this salad you get the grill flavor of the veggies, the meaty texture of the lentils, and the tangy dressing. It’s perfect for a side dish or as a very balanced lunch on it’s own, complete with protein (thanks lentils!). Better yet, make it as a side dish one night and you’ve got lunch ready for tomorrow! Score!!
Grilled Lentil Salad
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- 2 red bell peppers, whole
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 large zucchinis
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Cook the lentils according to package instructions until al dente. Set aside
- Slice onion into three equal rounds (about 1/2″ thick). Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Drizzle onion, red pepper, and zucchini with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Toss to coat. Grill over medium high heat on a charcoal or gas grill (you can also use a grill pan on the stove). Grill red peppers until they are charred and black all around (you will remove skins later). Grill onions 4-5 minutes per side, until dark grill marks appear and onions soften. Grill zucchini 3-4 minutes per side, until dark grill marks appear and flesh softens. Remove from the grill and let cool slightly before slicing. For a tutorial about how to remove skins from a red bell pepper, look here.
- Chop veggies and add them to a large bowl with the lentils.
- Mix together mustard, oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice for the dressing. Beat with a whisk for a minute or two until completely emulsified. Drizzle over the still warm salad. Toss to coat.
- Top with chopped chives. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.