Lentil Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette is a wonderfully simple salad that makes a great side dish but is nutrient dense enough to be served as a main meal. It’s vegan and gluten-free, and with 13 grams of protein and a whopping 15 grams of fiber per serving, it will leave you feeling nourished and satisfied.
On their own, lentils are mild tasting but will readily absorb whatever flavors they’re mixed with. They also have an important time-saving advantage over most other dried legumes in that they do not need to be soaked prior to cooking.
Lentils come in various sizes, shapes, and colors but when cooked they all taste similar. Lentil Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette was made with several different varieties of lentils, as picture above – French green, petite crimson, golden, beluga, Spanish pardina, and ivory white. I love how the lentils look like dainty pebbles in this photo.
Lentils and beans are often grouped together and are sometimes referred to as legumes or pulses, but I’ve always been unclear about the exact differences between these four food groups (lentils, beans, legumes, and pulses). Turns out, it is a little confusing. All lentils and all beans are “legumes”. Legumes are plants whose seeds are enclosed in a pod. Some of the more common legumes in this broad category includes: soybeans, peanuts, fresh beans, and fresh peas. However, you also have a subcategory within the legume family that includes pulses. Pulses are the dried edible seeds of plants. Some of the more common pulses include lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, and dried peas. Here’s the important thing to remember about pulses – only legumes that are harvested solely for the dry seed are pulses. So, although dried beans and dried peas are pulses, fresh green beans and fresh green peas are not because they are harvested green. Now I know why I was confused! Here’s a graphic, with some of the more common legumes here in the US, that will help clarify:
Note in this diagram that soybeans and peanuts are put into their own legume category because they have a much higher fat content than pulses and fresh green beans and peas, which have virtually no fat. I’m sure that’s WAY more than you ever wanted to learn about legumes but now you know!
Have fun experimenting with all of the different types of beautiful lentils available. Lentil Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette is the perfect recipe to showcase whatever type of lentils you choose.
- 1 cup lentils – any color/variety or combination of colors/varieties
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- 2 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces grape tomatoes (about 12), cut into quarters lengthwise
- 4 large leaves of Boston lettuce
- Rinse and drain the lentils and put them in a 2-quart saucepan with 2 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are just slightly tender but still have a little bite to them.
- Drain and rinse them under cold water, then transfer to a bowl.
- Whisk together the olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, and garlic and pour over the lentils. Add the scallions and grape tomatoes and toss gently to combine.
- Serve on leaves of Boston lettuce.
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