This healthy wholesome Greek Lentil Jar Salad is perfect for meal prep lunches or a quick dinner, loaded with protein-rich lentils, lots of crunchy veggies, creamy feta cheese, and a tangy dijon vinaigrette.
If there is only one thing you take away from this recipe today let it be that jar salads are just as helpful when you are quarantined at home, juggling work, family, and all the things as they are when you are bringing them to work for lunch.
There has been such a huge adjustment to being home all day, every day. One of the most common challenges I'm hearing from clients is that they are skipping over lunch because life is just too hectic in the middle of the day.
Don't underestimate the power of setting yourself up for lunches. What if you could just open the door of your refrigerator and grab this delicious, flavorful, protein-rich, plant powerful salad? Would lunch feel easier? It does for me.
It takes 15 minutes to put together lunch for the week if you cook lentils from scratch total time is 45 minutes. It's do-able. It's possible. Healthy food has never been more important.
Jar salads to the lunch rescue. I've been on a HUGE jar salad kick from my spicy buffalo chickpea crunch salad to a simple arugula strawberry jar salad, black bean and butternut squash jar salad, and a super tasty Thai chickpea jar salad. I love them. I hope you do too!
Let's get cooking!
INGREDIENTS YOU'LL NEED FOR THIS COLD LENTIL SALAD
- Lentils – You can certainly use prepared lentils which are sold in jars or cans at the grocery store or in the produce aisle at Trader Joe's. See below for how to cook lentils from dry.
- Radishes, roasted red peppers, arugula, tomatoes, scallions – These are the veggies that I had on hand, but you can certainly swap in any vegetables that you like.
- Feta cheese and kalamata olives – necessary ingredients for any Greek salad!
- Olive oil, dijon, lemon juice, salt, and pepper – ingredients needed for the dijon vinaigrette
TOOLS YOU WILL NEED:
- Mason Jars or Weck Jars – I am obsessed with weck jars (shown in the photos) but wide mouth mason jars would work as well
- Salad dressing shaker – a bowl and whisk work fine but this is one of my favorite kitchen tools. I use it daily!
HOW TO COOK LENTILS
As mentioned above you can certainly use prepared lentils for this recipe. If you happen to have a bag of dried lentils in your pantry now is the perfect time to cook them!
Different types of lentils:
There are several varieties of lentils
- Brown and Green Lentils – The most common lentil, they cook quickly, 20-30 minutes, but can break down and become a bit mushy. Great in soups and if cooked properly can work in salads.
- Red Lentils – Although they are called red the color can range from coral to a yellow/orange color. Red lentils have thin skin and cook down quickly turning to a mushy consistency. Perfect for creamy soups and daal.
- French Lentils (Lentilles du Puy) – My favorite lentil, when I can find them. French lentils retain their shape when cooked and have a perfect textural pop. They have a thicker skin and require longer cooking, typically 45-55 minutes.
- Black Beluga Lentils – super flavorful, not as common as the other varieties. Black lentils take 30 minutes to cook, if they cook closer to 40 minutes they will turn mushy similar to red lentils.
Tips for cooking lentils:
- Boil lentils in a large pot of water. Lentils cook similar to pasta, you do not need a specific amount of water you can just boil them until tender. See above for cooking times based on the different types of lentils.
- Use aromatics – when you boil lentils you have an opportunity to add a ton of flavor. Some flavor options: 1/2 an onion, a few cloves of crushed garlic, bay leaves, any other spice or seasoning that you like, and always a generous spoonful of salt.
NUTRITION NERD CORNER 🤓
HEALTH BENEFITS OF LENTILS
Lentils are truly one of my favorite plant-based sources of protein. First of all, they are delicious (most important), but they are also super nutrient-dense.
- Excellent source of protein – 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein
- Good source of iron – 1 cup of lentils provides 1/3 of your daily iron requirements
- High source of fiber – 1 cup of lentils provides four times as much fiber as 1 cup of raw kale. 1 cup of lentils contains 15.6 grams of fiber. I recommend a minimum of 35 grams of fiber per day.
- Rich in polyphenols – polyphenols are potent micronutrients packed with antioxidants!
TIPS FOR MAKING PERFECT JAR SALADS EVERY TIME:
Follow these tips to make perfect jar salads every time:
- Start with the jar that works for you, you can definitely use pint or quart size mason jars (I recommend wide mouth) but my favorite jars are Weck jars.
- Add salad dressing to the bottom of the jar.
- Place harder, thick, non-absorbant vegetables on top of dressing (carrots, celery, cabbage, large cut cucumbers, etc.) and then layer softer vegetables, and greens on top. If I am using cheese, fruit, or nuts I add that on top of the greens.
- When it’s time to eat you can either shake the jar and dig in or pour into a bowl and mix all together.
This recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free.
- Vegan – eliminate the feta cheese or replace with a vegan cheese alternative
- Paleo and Whole30 – Technically on a paleo diet legumes are not “allowed”. You would have to eliminate the lentils, you can replace them with heartier broccoli or cauliflower or even roasted chicken. Also, eliminate the cheese.
- Keto – Replace the lentils with an animal protein (shrimp would be great!)
MORE LENTIL RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE
Lentil Leek Shepherd's Pie
Farmer's Market Lentil Salad
Quick and Healthy Red Lentil Soup
Very Veggie Lentil Soup
I hope you love this Greek Lentil Jar Salad! If you make it be sure to tag me, @abrapappa on Instagram so I can see your masterpiece!
Greek Lentil Jar Salad
- 1 cup dried lentils or 1 cup prepared cooked lentils
- 1 cup radishes
- 1 cup roasted red peppers
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/4 cup scallions
- 1/4 cup kalamata olives
- 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup feta cheese
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp dried oregano
- Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve, make sure to inspect for any bad lentils or little stones.
- Add lentils to a large pot and fill with water. Add any aromatics you like (1 bay leaf will do the trick!) Bring the pot to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Test the lentils at 20 minutes by tasting them. When they are tender they are done.
- Drain the lentils, remove the bay leaves, and set aside to cool
- Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk well until emulsified and "creamy". Set aside.
Assemble the salad (divide ingredients between 4 jars)
- Assemble the jar salad with dressing on the bottom, followed by lentils, radishes, red peppers, olives, arugula, tomato, and feta cheese.
- When ready to eat simply shake or stir well to combine dressing with ingredients.
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