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Cold Lentil Salad Recipe

With a tangy, slightly sweet vinaigrette and a quarto of veggies, this Cold Lentil Salad recipe is a perfect side dish for any meal, any time.

A bowl filled with cold lentil salad — lentils, red onions, cucumbers, red peppers and carrots — sits on a blue and yellow striped fabric with a spoon nearby.

In midsummer, when the heat and humidity conspire to make me question why I haven’t had air conditioning in my house in more than seven years, I long for winter and the ability to respond to cold by adding one more layer. Now that we’re deep into winter though, I am longing for days without the hum of heat barely cutting the chill in the air.

But when it’s cold outside, the flavors of summer and fall can make those seasons seem a little closer.

Take this Cold Lentil Salad recipe. In warmer days, this would be a lovely dish to serve with something fresh off the grill. But in the wintertime, it’s delightful too, served alongside something heavy like lasagna or pasta with bolognese sauce.

Let me tell you what I love about this salad.

A silver mixing bowl holds red onions, cucumbers, red peppers and carrots next to a measuring cup of lentils.

First, there’s the lentil to vegetable ratio. It’s heavy on the veggies, which balances the dish in such a nice way. Cool cucumbers, sweet red bell peppers, vibrant carrots and crisp red onions combine in a magical quarto of flavors.

Second, there are the lentils. Brown lentils hold their shape when cooked, which is essential to this delightful dish. They are like little coins of good fortune, waiting to tickle your taste buds.

A silver mixing bowl holds a yellowish vinaigrette with herbs and a small whisk.

And, finally, there’s the easy homemade dressing that combines the tanginess of red wine vinegar with the sweetness of agave nectar and the balancing factor of dijon mustard, all brought together with olive oil. Delightful.

A yellow-ish vinaigrette is poured from a mixing bowl into another mixing bowl of lentils, carrots, red onions, red peppers and cucumbers.

Beyond the flavors, this Cold Lentil Salad recipe is just so easy to make. Chop the veggies. Cook and rinse the lentils. Whisk together the dressing. Combine. It’s that simple. I do recommend letting this sit for at least 30 minutes before serving though so that the flavors can meld together.

Easy, tasty and with a side of summertime flavors? Perfect.

I love to serve this as a side dish, complementing something heavier like lasagna or grilled chicken. But it’s also delightful served over salad greens. However you eat it, I hope you love it too.

Yield: 8 servings

Cold Lentil Salad

Cold Lentil Salad

With a tangy, slightly sweet vinaigrette and a quarto of veggies, this Cold Lentil Salad recipe is a perfect side dish for any meal, any time.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 1 cup brown lentils, picked over
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the lentils, water and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for about 18-20 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a fine-mesh strainer and rinse the cooked lentils with cold water.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the cucumber, red pepper, red onion and carrot with the lentils. Stir together.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, agave nectar, dried thyme, salt, mustard and pepper. Pour over the lentils and veggies and stir well to combine.
  4. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving so the flavors can really come together.


Monday 26th of September 2022

What can you substitute for the agave nectar.

Sarah Walker Caron

Monday 26th of September 2022

Hi Pat, I haven't tested this recipe with any other sweetener and others in the liquid form like maple syrup and honey have pronounced flavors that will alter the flavor profile of the recipe. But, if you are in a pinch, you could try honey as *I think* (again, I haven't tried it) it will compliment the flavors in this.

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