We’ve all had pasta and potato salad before, but have you ever had a spicy lentil salad? I hadn’t until a friend of mine brought a version of this salad to a potluck dinner. We were all blown away; no one had ever thought to make a cold salad with lentils before! We begged her for the recipe, and I made a few modifications to keep it clean-eating friendly. By using Greek yogurt as the dressing base, I was able to make a side salad that has only 81 calories per serving!
You’ll love the way the soft, chewy lentils melt into the creamy, spicy dressing. Add in some crunchy cucumbers and bell peppers, and this Spicy Lentil Salad has all the perfect textures! Not to mention that it will keep you feeling full for hours afterward, thanks to the whopping 12 grams of plant-based protein in each serving.
How to Serve this Spicy Lentil Salad
Now that I know how healthy and delicious this salad is, it’s become a regular addition to my dinner table. I love serving it as a side dish instead of carbohydrate-loaded potato salad, and it packs significantly fewer calories than pasta salad. I’ve even brought it to potluck dinners and Super Bowl parties, and everyone loves it!
You could also turn this low-calorie side dish into a simple lunch or dinner by adding a protein. If you’re following a vegan diet, we’d suggest swapping out the Greek yogurt for the dressing we used in this plant-based old-fashioned potato salad recipe. Then, you can top the salad with some baked tofu or tempeh. Adding a hard-boiled egg works well for vegetarians that eat eggs, and a half of a chicken breast or a small salmon filet is a perfect addition for omnivores.
Red or Green Lentils?
You have an important choice to make when cooking this Spicy Lentil Salad: Should you choose red or green lentils? Ultimately, it’s up to your personal preference, but we’ll try to help you make it! All lentils have the same basic nutritional profile. They’re low in cholesterol and fat while being high in protein and fiber. But, they each have a slightly different flavor profile, and they all have different cook times.
We like green lentils for this salad because they have a very firm texture and an earthy, slightly peppery flavor. They don’t break down as quickly as split lentils, so they have a meaty texture. They do take the longest time to cook – about 45 minutes on the stovetop.
Red lentils, on the other hand, are the quickest cooking lentil – less than 30 minutes on the stovetop – but they are also prone to break down instead of keeping their shape. They can easily get mushy if you cook them too long. We love the sweet, nutty flavor of red lentils.
No matter which lentils you choose, this Spicy Lentil Salad is going to be delicious! Experiment with a few different kinds of lentils to see which one you like best. Let us know in the comments if you found one that’s particularly delicious!
Spicy Lentil Salad
- 1/2 cup cucumber peeled and diced small
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper diced small
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 cups plain fat-free Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 cups green or red lentils cooked
- Mix together all ingredients except for the lentils. Mix well. Gently stir in the lentils. Refrigerate and let sit for about 20 minutes before serving.
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