This spring and summer time recipe for Mediterranean Chopped Salad with Lentils brings together protein-packed lentils, plenty of crunchy vegetables and a bright, herby finish from the lemon and olives. If you follow an overall Mediterranean diet meal plan more than a few times a week, then you probably already have all of the needed ingredients on hand to make this right now!
Start with a core Mediterranean Diet shopping list
Our family grocery list has grown to be very consistent week-over-week. Before we even draw up a menu board, or think about our “theme nights”, we start by putting the same dozen or so ingredients on the shopping list. These are the backbone of much of our cooking and snacking:
- Bell Peppers
- Cilantro (Fresh!)
- Lemons – a lot of lemons
- Mint (Fresh!)
- Parsley (Lots!)
- Red Onions
- Yellow Onions
From there, we have a solid foundation for probably 80% of the healthy mediterranean recipes that are out there. And since most of the produce listed above is now widely available year-round, you are pretty much set no matter what the season.
Is it winter? You can also get just about any sort of soup base going with these ingredients. Once fall rolls around, two of the most requested soups by my kids are avgolemono (aka Greek Lemon Chicken Soup) and Turkish Red Lentil Soup (recipes coming soon!)
Is it summer? Well, you’ve also got all of the core ingredients for a fresh salad or side dish.
A perfect “Clear out the vegetable drawer chopped salad”
So when I was thinking about making some sort of mediterranean lentil salad, I opened up the vegetable drawer to see what I had that needed to be used. Hmmm… I’ve got some crunchy things in bell peppers, cucumber and celery. There’s a lemon and some herbs for bright, fresh flavor. And there was a nearly empty tub of olives that would give it some briny bite.
To take this recipe from being just another lentil salad and turn it into a Mediterranean chopped salad, pay close attention to the size of your chop and aim to get all of your vegetables chopped fairly uniform. Just larger than the lentils is a good goal.
Keep in mind, a chopped salad can definitely take on many forms. In some cases, it can be made into the whole meal! Check out my Kale Superfood Chopped Salad where I use the air fryer to cook a really delicious herbed chicken breast to go on top!
Cook and cool the lentils completely before mixing them all together. I will drain the lentils in a colander and place them on the counter as soon as they are done before proceeding with the chop.
We go through a lot of lentils around here. I will typically make a large amount of lentils (usually 2 or 3 cups dried) at the beginning of the week and keep them in the refrigerator. Toss them on salads, make a quick side dish, add them to smoothies, etc….
Finishing the Mediterranean Chopped Salad
The final check with this mediterranean chopped salad with lentils is the “fresh factor”. Does it burst with freshness? To me, that’s based two factors. First, the fresh squeezed lemon juice. And second, the distinctive flavor of fresh chopped herbs.
I’ll squeeze in more lemon, and chop up some more herbs, if I don’t feel like it just bursts with Fresh. You’ll know when you get it right!
This mediterranean chopped salad is bursting with fresh flavors from the vegetables and has a protein punch with the lentils
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 Cup Green Lentils rinsed thoroughly
- 1 Tablespoon Za'atar optional
- 1 Teaspoon Turmeric optional
- 1 Red Bell Pepper (Chopped)
- 3 Stalks Celery (Chopped)
- ½ Cup English Cucumber (Seeded & Chopped)
- ¼ Cup Red Onion (Chopped)
- ½ Cup Fresh Parsley (Chopped)
- ¼ Cup Fresh Mint (Chopped)
- 15 Pitted Kalamata Olives (Quartered)
- 2 Ounces Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 2 Ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Bring water to boil and add the rinsed lentils. (Optionally stir in the za'atar and turmeric). Bring it back to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes (stirring occasionally) until water is absorbed and lentils are fully cooked. Transfer to a colander so they can cool
While the lentils are cooking, continue chopping & prepping the vegetables. Once lentils are cool, transfer to a large mixing bowl and combine all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to your taste
Optional: I've found that a handful of fresh pearl (marble sized) mozzarella is a nice way to finish the dish. Look for the brands that come in a tub with water rather than in bag or log form)