Another simple salad that just happens to be a client favorite. This Lentil & Sun Dried Tomato Salad is so fresh, satisfying & packed with flavor that it doesn’t need the fresh mozzarella (although if you’re into that sorta thing, you’ll definitely want it in there).
I’m about to spill one of my best secrets, so listen up. Every time I make a grain or legume salad like this one, I almost always add onions, shallots, leeks, garlic or similar sautéed in lots of good olive oil. When tossed with the salad, it gives the salad a serious flavor boost and creates a deliciously savory blank canvas for any mixture of add ins and flavors (like the basil and sun dried tomatoes in this dish). I also take full advantage of that sun dried tomato oil by using it to sauté the shallots and also to drizzle over the finished salad.
Salads like this one are ideal for clients and meal preppers because they maintain flavor and texture integrity, even when stored in the fridge for a few days. This salad is high in protein and fiber, and works perfectly as a meal in itself or as a side dish, depending on your dietary model. Because I personally use this salad as a meal without the cheese, and because I watch the cost of my own food, I like to stretch this salad out by using 1/2 cup more dry lentils. This just goes to show how flexible and customizable cooking can be.
Lentil & Sun Dried Tomato Salad
1 to 1.5 cups dry green or brown lentils*
8oz jar oil-packed sun dried tomatoes
2-3 large shallots (or 4-5 smaller ones), minced
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves (1 ounce)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
black pepper to taste
8 oz fresh mozzarella, optional
Cook lentils according to package instructions. Something like this… bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add dry lentils and simmer for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, separate the sun dried tomatoes from the oil, keeping both. Heat 1/3 cup of the sun dried tomato oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallots and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté until shallots of soften and caramelized, 6-10 minutes, set aside.
Roughly chop the sun dried tomatoes and chop/shred/tear the fresh basil. Add chopped tomatoes, basil, shallot mixture and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar to the cooled lentils. Add up to 1 more tablespoon vinegar and 2 more tablespoons sun dried tomato oil, to taste. Toss in fresh mozzarella, if using, and season with salt and pepper.
This recipe was designed for clients using 1 cup dry lentils. When making for myself, I use 1.5 cups lentils to stretch the recipe out a bit, it’s more food for less work, plus it’s more economical.
Can’t find shallots? Use 1 small-medium yellow onion instead.
I love when I find fresh mozzarella pearls, they’re the perfect size for salads like this. Can’t find them? Use any shape fresh mozzarella cut into bite-size pieces.