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Lentil Green Bean Salad with Vinaigrette

March 18, 2012

I have been craving this kind of salad recently.

Maybe it’s the transitioning of the seasons, as hearty winter meals are supplanted by fresh spring salads. Maybe it’s the tang of vinegar and the crunch of al dente green beans. Or maybe it’s just the eternal tastiness of lentils and the convenience of getting your protein and your salad all mixed into one.

My craving was answered in the form of an appetizer. I ordered a lentil salad, served with flatbread crackers (and the genius addition of avocado!), at a restaurant on Friday night, and then spent Saturday afternoon re-creating it.* Maybe I got a little carried away and made about eight servings-worth of lentils. Maybe the leftovers are marinating in my fridge right now, awaiting their sequel…

Let me just say this much: this recipe made me realize that it’s about time I created a “vegan” category on the blog. I may never be able to go vegetarian, let alone vegan, but this lentil salad/appetizer is lovely. I have no doubt that it will work its way into my regular recipe rotation.

* And I spiced it up a bit with lemon zest, fresh basil, and a pinch of cumin.

RECIPE:

Lentil Green Bean Salad with Vinaigrette

(Serves 6-8 as an appetizer or side dish)

Ingredients:
~ 2 cups dry lentils
~ 1 lb. green beans
~ 1 medium tomato (or a handful of cherry tomatoes; optional)
~ 1 avocado (optional)
~ 2-3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
~ 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
~ 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil
~ salt and black or white ground pepper, to taste
OPTIONAL:
~ zest of one lemon
~ 1 clove garlic, minced (I substituted 1 Tbsp. of garlic-infused olive oil above)
~ pinch of ground cumin
~ ¼ cup fresh basil or cilantro, finely chopped
~ ¼ cup red onion, diced

How to Make it:

1. Rinse the lentils, then place them in a large saucepan, cover them in several inches of water, and add a pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 18-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Wash and trim the green beans, then cut into 2-3 inch-long pieces. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil, then drop in the green beans to blanch them for 3 minutes (or longer, but I like mine bright green and still crunchy). Then strain the green beans through a colander, and rinse them under cold running water to stop them from cooking.

3. Once the lentils are just soft enough to eat, strain them through a colander as well, and rinse with cold water.

4. Roughly chop the tomato and the avocado, then combine the lentils, green beans, tomato, and avocado in a large bowl. (I waited to add the avocado until after I’d stirred in the dressing so that it wouldn’t get as mushy.) Optionally mix in some fresh chopped basil or cilantro and red onion.

5. Make the vinaigrette dressing: whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon or lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and optionally the lemon zest, garlic, and cumin. Then drizzle over the salad and gently stir to coat the vegetables. Adjust the seasoning if necessary or perhaps just add a bit more salt/pepper to taste.

6. Serve chilled either as a salad or side to a main course, or spoon a bit on top of crackers or toasted baguette slices as an appetizer.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2012 5:49 pm

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! Looks delicious and so healthy– I might add something crunchy to it though, maybe some toasted nuts?

    • March 18, 2012 6:01 pm

      That’s a great idea, thanks! I’m sure toasted almonds or walnuts would be good with this. (Although the way I make it, the green beans are crunchy too!)

  2. March 18, 2012 6:53 pm

    Cilantro and avocado yummy

  3. January 9, 2014 4:11 pm

    I can’t wait to try this. Lentils and avocados – I love both and hadn’t really thought to combine them with bright, beautiful veggies and a great vinaigrette. Lovely.

    • January 10, 2014 10:37 am

      Thanks! This salad is really addictively delicious, and it’s definitely one of the recipes I keep coming back to. I’ve even made it with sliced up raw bell peppers instead of (or in addition to) blanched green beans, when that was all I had.

      • January 11, 2014 1:41 pm

        I have all of the ingredients on hand – even some raw, red peppers. Do you think eggplant would go well, or would it detract from the avocado flavor? Take care! :-)

      • January 11, 2014 2:21 pm

        Hm, I’m not sure about the eggplant, because I think of eggplant as a slightly finicky ingredient, which can end up too bitter if it’s not prepared the right way (like salted for a while to draw out the bitterness, then rinsed free of salt, then cooked just right…). If you are an expert eggplant preparer, then I see no reason why it wouldn’t go well with most of these ingredients—you could even use it instead of avocado if you’re worried about those two flavors together—but I’m guessing that I’d personally prefer this dish without eggplant, even though I love other eggplanty things, like baba ghanoush!

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