As I sit here writing this post with a massive headache and ridiculous congestion for August, one thing is for certain – I love lentils. In all colors, shapes, and sizes. These tiny pulses are a sustainable plant-based protein option that can be used way beyond the usual lentil soup. Since I’m inherintily lazy, I love making cold salads early on in the week for quick snacks and no-fuss lunches. Otherwise, who knows what I’d end up eating. What that all means is that I’m currently obsessed with how easy it is to make this Honey Mustard Lentil Salad, and how awesome it is eaten alone, with a fried egg, in a pita pocket, or on top of a green salad base.
OI! Did you know 2016 is the ‘Year of the Pulses’? Yep. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and dry peas are the hot ticket this year.
There are so many great types of lentils out there; french, brown, green, red, yellow, split. While I love them all, I recommend a heartier lentil for today’s recipe, like a french or green lentil, varieties that will retain their shape and texture. Yellow, split, and red lentils are wonderful nutrient powerhouses, but they tend to get more mushy and soft in texture and would not hold up well in this salad.
Cooking with lentils is also a great way to save on your grocery budget, especially on proteins. There’s 18g of protein per 1 cup of cooked lentils (wowza!), comparable in quantity to a 3oz serving of pork. However, purchasing lentils from the bulk section of the grocery store will only cost you less than three dollars per pound versus five dollars and upwards for a pound of pork.
Nutritionally, lentils are full of dietary fiber, are low on the glycemic index, offer nourishing phytonutrients like isoflavones, and are even low in fat. While animal proteins definitely can have a healthy place in a balanced diet, there’s no denying the benefits of adding more plant-based proteins and meatless meals into your weekly eating plan!
I was inspired to dress my lentil salad with a honey mustard dressing by my friend Cara of Street Smart Nutrition. She’s always whipping up an amazing dressing or sauce for something and a good honey mustard dressing seems to be a staple in her house. I was pleasantly surprised to find the earthy flavor of lentils balanced well with this sweet and tangy dressing.
What are you favorite ways to enjoy lentils (besides soup!)? Share in the comments below, I would love to hear how you’re preparing these little pulse beauties throughout the year.
- 1 cup dry French lentils, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 large (or 2 small) carrots, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, diced
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- water, as needed to thin to desired consistency
- Bring water and rinsed lentils to a rapid boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to a simmer over low heat and cook 20-30 minutes until water is absorbed and lentils are soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat and cool 10-15 minutes.
- In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine cooled lentils, onion, bell pepper, carrots, jalapeño. Season to taste with black pepper.
- In a pint-size mason jar, add dijon mustard, honey, olive oil, white vinegar, and minced garlic. Secure lid and shake until fully combined. Open lid, taste and season to taste with additional honey or vinegar, or add 1 Tbsp. of water at a time to thin to desired consistency (I recommend a thicker dressing to 'stick' to the salad ingredients).
- Pour half of the honey mustard dressing over the lentil salad and gently mix to combine with a wooden spoon. Add more dressing to taste or store remaining dressing in the mason jar in the fridge. Add in the basil and gently stir.
- Let dressed lentil salad chill in the fridge for at least 30-45 minutes before enjoying.