Prioritizing Plant-based Proteins

In the past few years, on my weight loss journey, I’ve been making a conscious effort to increase plant-based protein in every meal. This has led me to experiment with humble ingredients like quinoa, beans, millets and lentils. At the same time, I prioritize clean eating, with simple, made-from-scratch meals, with everyday ingredients. Most weekdays, I resort to wholesome salads at lunchtime. I have a few quick and easy, no-cook recipes that I tend to go to, like my Sprouted Moong Bean salad. Here, I’m sharing one of my latest creations: a hearty Indian-inspired Lentil and Kale Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette.

Lentils, a nutritional powerhouse

Lentils are a staple in many diets around the world. They are considered a nutritional powerhouse given that they are full of complex carbohydrates, high in protein, low in fat, rich in fiber and packed with vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Growing up, the only way I had them was in the form of “Masoor Amti,” a Maharashtrian-style spiced brown lentil stew. It is one of the most requested dishes from my cooking class menu!

After moving to the US, I learned that not only are there several varieties of lentils, coming in many colors and textures, but also that they are used in all kinds of dishes like salads, soups, pilafs, etc. and are even considered a great substitute for meat in dishes like meatloaf, burgers and much more. I was inspired to try something new and crafted this recipe for my salad with green lentils as the star ingredient.

My Lentil and Kale Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

My Indian-inspired Lentil and Kale Salad is made with flat green lentils and purple kale. The lentils are cooked al dente and spooned warm over a bed of chopped purple kale, which softens as it wilts slightly from the warmth of the lentils. It is then topped with crunchy and peppery radish slices, salty crumbled feta cheese, and fresh chopped cilantro, green onions, and dill. My homemade cumin vinaigrette rounds it all off and ties this salad together! Cumin, the quintessential Indian spice, is the star of my homemade vinaigrette. It gives the vinaigrette a wonderful, mildly spiced warmth and a smoky, earthy flavor.

My recipe is quite versatile—you can use brown, French green, black belugas in place of the green lentils. I love purple kale for the greens, as it is slightly sweeter than the curly green or Tuscan kale varieties, but you can use the one you like! This salad makes for a comforting bowl when served warm but can also hold its flavors and textures sitting for hours in the refrigerator, thus making it ideal for meal prepping or taking on the go. It works very well as a side dish or a hearty lunch or dinner salad. Try it out, you might just find your new favorite salad!

I have outlined step-by-step details below that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.

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Lentil and Kale Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette


  • Author: Vasanti
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x

Description

Lentil & Kale Salad tossed with radishes, feta cheese, fresh herbs & homemade cumin vinaigrette.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Lentils

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup green lentils (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 2 cups water/stock
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

For the Cumin Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 23 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (see FAQs & Notes)
  • salt, to taste
  • fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

For the Salad

  • 4 cups chopped purple kale (see Variations)
  • 4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced (see Variations)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (see FAQs & Notes + Variations)
  • 2 medium green onions, thinly sliced
  • 810 sprigs of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 810 sprigs of dill, roughly chopped (optional)

Instructions

Cooking the Lentils

  • Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and season with the chopped garlic cloves and red pepper flakes.
  • Rinse and drain the green lentils in a bowl under cold water and add them to the seasoned oil in the pot.
  • Add the water or stock, season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. 
  • Simmer covered for 15-18 minutes.
  • Uncover and check to make sure the lentils have absorbed all the water. The lentils should plump up but still have a bite to them. 

Making the Vinaigrette

  • While the lentils cook, make the Cumin Vinaigrette by whisking together all the ingredients for it in a small bowl.

Assembling the Salad

  • Spread the chopped kale in an even layer onto the platter.
  • Gently fluff the cooked lentils and spoon them over the bed of kale.
  • Top with radish slices, crumbled feta, chopped green onions, cilantro and dill. Finish off by drizzling the Cumin Vinaigrette and toss well to combine. 
  • Serve immediately or at room temperature. (See FAQs & Notes for storage instructions)

Keywords: Quick & Easy

Step-by-Step Details

Step: 1

Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat and season with the chopped garlic cloves and red pepper flakes.

Step: 2

Rinse and drain the green lentils in a bowl under cold water and add them to the seasoned oil in the pot.

Step: 3

Add the water or stock, season with salt and pepper and stir well to combine.

Step: 4

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil.

Step: 5

Simmer covered for 15-18 minutes.

Step: 6

Uncover and check to make sure the lentils have absorbed all the water. The lentils should plump up but still have a bite to them. 

Step: 7

While the lentils cook, make the Cumin Vinaigrette by whisking together all the ingredients for it in a small bowl.

Step: 8

Gently fluff the cooked lentils and spoon them over the bed of kale in a plate. Top with radish slices, crumbled feta, chopped green onions, cilantro and dill. Finish off by drizzling the Cumin Vinaigrette and toss well to combine.  Serve immediately or at room temperature. (See FAQs & Notes for storage instructions)

Recipe FAQ’s and Notes

What other types of lentils will work?

You can use flat green or brown, French green, Puy, black beluga lentils for this recipe.

Got cumin seeds but no ground cumin?

Toast and Grind Cumin Seeds: In a small pan, lightly toast the cumin seeds until they become fragrant. Let them cool, then grind them into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Can't find feta cheese?

You can use crumbled paneer sprinkled with chaat masala or black salt

Storage Info

This salad can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. It holds its flavors and textures very well and is ideal for meal prepping or taking it on the go.

Recipe Variations

Up the nutrition further by adding in quinoa along with lentils in the salad. You can simply substitute half the amount of lentils with quinoa and cook the two together in the pot and then use it to make the salad.

 

Can’t find purple kale? Use other types like curly or Tuscan kale. You can also use baby kale or baby spinach. Chopped rainbow or Swiss chard works as well!

No radishes? Use sliced cucumbers or bell peppers instead.

Make it vegan by skipping feta cheese or substituting with vegan feta cheese.

Happy cooking
Vasanti

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Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.



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