This smoky and flavorful vegan Quinoa Lentil Salad is packed with more than 16 grams of healthy protein and fiber and veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, and green peppers. You'll be running back for guilt-free seconds.
It was a busy Fourth of July weekend this year, but it was also a fun one. Desi and I took a day trip to one of our favorite places here in the Washington area, Harper's Ferry, a national park on the West Virginia border. Harper's Ferry is just an hour's drive from Washington but perhaps the fact that you cross two state borders to get there gives it that slight touch of the exotic.
It was a gorgeous day perfect for hiking, and hike we did. Harper's Ferry has something for everyone: mysterious trails, sweeping views, a confluence of two fabled rivers-- the Shenandoah and the Potomac-- a historic and still active railroad, ruins of an old mill, and stories of heroic abolitionists.
As we made our way to Lower Town, where everyone converges, we saw wildflowers of every color and thorny bushes filled with little red berries that Desi insisted were raspberries because they looked just like. He would have eaten them had I not stopped him -- it's like traveling with a kid. Eagles cut an arc across the perfect blue sky dotted with white clouds. As we walked along the river we spotted a turtle, a heron, ducks, and an intrepid deer who stared at us with huge, soft eyes, wondering, no doubt, why we were there.
We had a leisurely lunch at one of the restaurants in Lower Town, gave a miss to Jefferson Rock -- a shale rock formation from where Thomas Jefferson is said to have viewed the confluence of the rivers-- just because we'd been there a dozen times before and were too tired to do any more walking and climbing, and finally we headed back home to Opie and Pie, in time for dinner and to watch the fireworks on TV.
Hope you had a lovely Fourth. What did you do?
I made this recipe the other night so we could have something tasty to brown bag, but we nearly ate it all up before we could actually get it into our lunchboxes. This Quinoa and Lentil Salad is complex, delicious and so simple that you will wonder how it got to be all those things.
I added to the salad a ton of fresh vegetables, including onions, carrots, celery, green peppers and sweet potatoes. And then I drizzled over it strips of fresh basil from my yard. The smokiness of the cumin and the chili was perfect with the earthy lentils, nutty quinoa and the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, carrots and basil. And each serving has more than 16 grams of protein and nearly 19 grams of dietary fiber. Beat that.
Just looking at the pictures now, as I post this, is making me hungry. Hope you'll try it too. Enjoy!
Looking for more vegan dinner recipes?
- Vegan Stuffed Peppers
- Grilled Tofu Steaks in a Creamy Vegan Cajun Sauce
- Vegan Lentil and Quinoa Steak
- Moroccan Couscous Salad
Quinoa Lentil Salad Recipe
Quinoa Lentil Salad
- 1 cup French lentils (use brown lentils or whole masoor if you'd rather)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sweet potatoes, (peeled and cut in a small dice)
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil (or, for fat-free version, 1 tablespoon vegetable stock for sauteeing veggies)
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or paprika
- 2 medium carrots (finely diced)
- 1 medium onion (finely diced)
- 2 stalks of celery (finely diced)
- 1 green pepper (deseeded and finely diced)
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ¼ cup packed basil leaves (cut into thin ribbons)
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the sweet potatoes and cinnamon and place in a single layer in a baking pan. Bake the sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes or until they are fork tender. Set aside.
- Soak the lentils in water mixed with 1 teaspoon of salt. There should be enough water to cover the lentils by an inch. Set aside for 30 minutes. This helps the lentils better hold their shape when they're cooked (a trick I picked up from watching America's Test Kitchen)
- Drain and wash the lentils and place them in a pot. Add 2 cups of water and bay leaves. Bring the lentils to a boil over medium heat, cover and cook until lentils are tender but still hold their shape. This took me under five minutes, so be sure to check your lentils frequently so they don't turn mushy.
- To cook the quinoa, wash the quinoa and let it drain thoroughly. In a dry skillet, roast the quinoa until you get a nutty fragrance (also a trick learned from America's Test Kitchen). Add 1 cup of water to the quinoa, bring to a boil, lower the heat to the lowest point on your stove, and cook 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Heat the olive oil or vegetable stock in a large saucepan. Add the onions, carrots and celery and a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until the onions turn soft and the carrots are cooked a bit but still have a bite.
- Add the garlic. cumin and ed chilli flakes and saute for another minute.
- Add the green peppers and continue to saute until the peppers are just tender, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the roasted sweet potatoes, quinoa, lentils and lemon juice and mix everything thoroughly. Stir in the basil.
- Serve hot or warm.
This salad was good but the cumin flavor was too strong. Next time I will cut the amount of cumin in half. Following the additional instructions to soak the lentils, toast the quinoa, and roast the sweet potatoes helped to inhance the flavors.
I am new to cooking let along vegan cooking. I liked the recipe. Are the calories per serving or for the total recipe?
I tripled the recipe so as to have leftovers (there are 6 of us), was just using what I have on hand so I made a couple substitutions (butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, and cilantro instead of basil), I also added spinach right at the end for some added greens. This was a big hit in my home! Even my 5 year old who has lately been extremely picky absolutely loved it and chowed down! Thank you for this recipe, greatly appreciate it.
So happy to hear, Raylin!
Yummy!I made this on a weeknight- pretty easy to make. I used half a serrano pepper and also some thinly sliced radishes. I added Dill instead of basil. The sald turned out great. Thanks for all the tips that you have noted. I never knew that whole masoor can actually be cooked that fast!
Great lunchbox option for my hungry teens!
Loved! Made a few changes... didn’t have basil so I left that out and didn’t miss it. Wouldn’t soak the lentils again; didn’t seem worth it. Loved the toasted quinoa but will make it in a saucepan next time - water cooked off before the quinoa was done.
Reheated for lunch and added another squeeze of lemon right before eating - made it taste super fresh. I was leery of the cinnamon but it’s perfect in this dish.
Will make again but it’s definitely a “Sunday recipe” for when I have more time for prep.
Do you have any idea how many lentil and quinoa salad recipes I had to read before Google finally led me to something creative, unique and enticing? You don't want know. But I sure am happy to have found my way to this wonderful blog. I don't have any sweet potatoes, but I do have a beautiful kabocha squah just itching to stand in. I couldn't be more excited! I am going to have to make some time to peruse the rest of your blog soon. Thanks for taking the time to create it! Channon D
This was fabulous. I usually avoid sweet potatoes because I've never liked them. I decided to be adventurous in this case because the ingredients as a whole intrigued me. I'm so glad I tried it! I loved the sweet potatoes roasted with cinnamon. Thank you so much. I've been reading your blog for a long time and this is the first recipe I've tried. I will definitely be trying more.
Hi Amy, so glad you tried it. The sweet potatoes with cinnamon was certainly one of my favorite parts of this salad. Glad I converted you! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!
Hi Vaishali! What an awesome salad! I would love to try to make some of those soon. I'd love it if you'd comment back .
I have been searching for something to help me eat quinoa, and I think I found it! My only question while making was: is the water from the lentils supposed to cook in or do you drain them? (I had to).
Very yummy! Thank you for sharing!
You will need to drain the lentils after cooking. Happy you liked it!
Update- My daughter took the salad to work for lunch. As usual, her co-workers needed to taste her "gourmet lunch." Both asked her to get a copy of the recipe. I'll print it out and make sure they know how to find your blog. The next recipe I'm going to try is the lentil hand pies.
Joan, that's so lovely. Thanks for spreading the word about Holy Cow! You are awesome, and I hope you will like the pies!
YUM!! Made this yesterday with your Quinoa Bean Burgers and both were delish! Thanks for sharing such amazing recipes!!
Liz, so happy you liked it. Thanks for letting me know!
Another amazing recipe. Have this cooling in the refrigerator for our lunches over the next few days. Took a few steps to make but certainly worth it.
Joan, so thrilled you liked it! 🙂