February 13, 2024/Recipes

Recipe: Herb-Friendly Lentil Salad

This delicious Mediterranean dish is packed with healthy protein and nutrients

Closeup of a lentil salad containing lentils, cauliflower, peppers, zucchini in a white bowl on a wooden table

This delicious Mediterranean dish is packed with protein and other nutrients from legumes and vegetables. It’s also chock full of herbs.

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Ingredients

  • 1 15-ounce can of lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 rib of celery, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large English seedless cucumber, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fat-free feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients except feta cheese and mint leaves in a salad bowl.
  2. Put minced garlic, lemon juice or red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a jar or a salad dressing cruet and shake to mix.
  3. Pour dressing over lentil salad. Add feta and mint and mix.

Ingredient health benefits

  • Lentils: You probably already know that lentils are high in fiber, but other benefits of these little legumes shouldn’t be overlooked. Lentils have polyphenols, vitamin B1 and iron — nutrients that are excellent at supporting your heart health. Lentils also have folate (vitamin B9), an essential vitamin that helps strengthen your immune system, lower your blood pressure and preserve your vision, among other things!
  • Tomatoes: There’s a lot to say about these nutritious nightshades, but here are some of the highlights. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene and beta-carotene, antioxidants that protect your cells from harm by free radicals and keep your heart happy. But lycopene has its own perks to bring to the table, like helping lower your cholesterol and (potentially) keeping your skin safe from sunburns.
  • Carrots: These hearty roots are rich in carotenoids (no surprises there), which promote your eye and heart health, as well as lower your risk of getting certain cancers. Your body turns some of these carotenoids into vitamin A, another important nutrient for healthy eyes. Carrots of all colors are a great addition to any meal, but purple carrots have a high concentration of anthocyanins. These natural pigments have similar benefits to carotenoids, but they also help regulate your blood pressure levels and support a thriving brain.
  • Celery: There’s more to this crunchy stalk than you might think. Celery has vitamin K and potassium, which are key to strong bones, working blood cells and healthy blood pressure. And folate works behind the scenes to help your body perform many vital functions.
  • Red peppers: There are plenty of pleasant perks perfectly packed into these peppers. Red bell peppers are full of vitamin A, vitamin B6 and immunity-boosting vitamin C. And they have fiber and manganese for a healthy gut and metabolism. And that’s not all — certain compounds found in red peppers (vitamin C included) also fight chronic inflammation.
  • Cucumbers: If you’re looking for a food that hydrates you while you eat it, cucumber has your back. That’s because cucumbers are about 96% water. But they have heart-helpful properties as well, thanks to the compound cucurbitacin B (CuB).
  • Parsley: Even herbs can have something to offer a meal. Parsley is a natural diuretic that makes your body get rid of excess water in the old-fashioned way. It’s also rich in certain types of flavonoids, which are very beneficial for your head (brain) and heart.
  • Garlic: Considered a superfood, this common allium has some extraordinary abilities. Garlic can help keep your blood pressure in a healthy range, strengthen your immunity and reduce unnecessary inflammation. It also has bacteria-fighting properties that help protect your food from microbial menaces.
  • Olive oil: This well-known cooking oil has been a kitchen staple in certain parts of the world for thousands of years. And because of the fruit it comes from, it’s no secret that olive oil is full of nutrition. Vitamin D and vitamin E support your bones, blood cells and skin. And including olive oil in your regular diet can also reduce your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and elevate your “good” (HDL) cholesterol.
  • Black pepper: This spice does more than enhance flavor. Black pepper also strengthens the benefits of other foods by helping your body absorb their nutrients more readily. It may even have the ability to help your body suppress unwanted inflammation, especially when you eat it along with turmeric and ginger. And it helps you cut back on salt by providing a seasoning alternative.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Makes 8 servings

Calories: 126
Protein: 5.6 g
Total fat: 3.5 g
Saturated fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.6 mg
Total carbohydrate: 12.3 g
Sugar: 2.3 g
Dietary fiber: 4.6 g
Sodium: 136 mg
Potassium: 357 mg

Recipe from our Nutrition Therapy Department.

Learn more about our editorial process.

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