This colourful and hearty lentil salad with a medley of the flavours and fragrances inspired by Middle Eastern cooking is a great accompaniment to lamb, or excellent on its own. Middle Eastern-Inspired Lentil Salad surpassed my expectations and I hope you’ll enjoy it too.
Middle Eastern-Inspired Lentil Salad
This was almost the world’s most expensive lentil salad.
A few years my family gathered for Thanksgiving Sunday brunch, so I decided to celebrate the actual holiday with a non-traditional (for me) meal of roast lamb accompanied by a lentil salad, both showcasing flavours of the Middle East. The photos show you the interplay of colours in this salad, but just imagine the medley of fragrances and flavours — mint, thyme, lemon, shallots, fresh chili pepper, sumac. And the scent of roasting lamb adorned with all that and more . . . I tell you, that was a much-anticipated meal and it surpassed all expectations.
By the time I had the salad together it was around six o’clock and the light outside was waning. I was determined to get some photographs in, so I hastily set up a tableau on the balcony table, arranging a plate of salad just so. And then, it happened. I dropped my almost-new camera — the DSLR, mind you, not my phone — right into the middle of the salad.
Thankfully, nothing on the camera broke, and I hadn’t yet removed the lens cap. Could you imagine oil, lentils and herbs all over the lens? As it was I had to clean the camera, and there was lentil salad all over the table and floor. So, I ended up doing what I should have planned in the first place: photographing leftover salad the next day, with a sprinkling of freshly chopped herbs to brighten it up (there you go, a little food photography trick — you’re welcome).
This is one of my favourite lentil salads yet, and definitely one that I’ll make in future to go with Middle Eastern cooking or just to enjoy on its own.
Was it worth the price of a new camera? Let’s just say I’m glad I don’t have to answer that question.
Let’s Make Middle Eastern-Inspired Lentil Salad
You can use any type of lentils for this dish, except for red lentils, which turn mushy when cooked. I used a mix of sprouted lentils this time. The recipe calls for lentils that have already been cooked, but you can cook them just for this salad in about 15 or so minutes.
- 2 cups cooked lentils, preferably still warm
- about 12 large mint leaves chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
- 1 small red chili pepper minced
- 1 small shallot minced
- zest of half a small lemon
- 1/4 tsp ground sumac
- 2 tsp sesame seeds, brown or white
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- a good grinding of black pepper
Place the lentils in a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the herbs, chili pepper, shallot, lemon zest, sumac and sesame seeds and mix well. Add the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper, and stir until all the lentils are glistening. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
If you aren’t serving the salad right away, add a little extra lemon juice; the lentils soak up and dull the lemon flavour over time, so start with a more assertive flavour than you’d like the salad to have at serving time.
Garnish the dish with more chopped mint just prior to serving.
Looking for More Lentil Salads?
I love lentil salads for their full-protein goodness and their ability to carry a global array of flavour profiles. They also make for an easily portable lunch. Here are a few on the blog: Brown Lentil, Quinoa & Parsley Salad; Lentil and Feta Summer Salad; and Lentil & Broccoli Salad.
First Published 2016 10 20
Republished 2022 11 09