Lentils, orzo, carrots, parsley, red onion, and lemon; what’s not to like about this salad? It’s healthy, inexpensive to make, and easy to prepare.
Lentils are part of the legume family. They have many health benefits including lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease, and stabilizing blood sugar. They are also a good source of protein and fiber while staying low in calories. Lentils are a staple in my pantry, and I often find myself cooking with them. In this salad, I use green lentils. They are pale green-brown in color with a glossy exterior and have a robust peppery flavor. Green lentils keep a firm texture after cooking making them ideal for salads like this one.
As summer is heating up (the temperature has been around 90 degrees for several days in Chicago), a cold salad is what I’ve been craving. My mom – shout out to Patty – first introduced me to this salad last summer. I’ve been hooked ever since. It makes a wonderful side dish to compliment grilled fish, roast lamb (my favorite way to eat it,) or as a delicious healthy lunch by itself.
- 2 cups green lentils, uncooked
- 2 cups orzo, uncooked
- 2 cups carrots, spiraled or chopped
- 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups fresh parsley (1 large bunch), chopped
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp dried dill
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Prepare lentils: Place lentils in a colander and rinse under running water. Sort through to remove any small rocks or shriveled lentils. Combine rinsed and sorted lentils to a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring the water to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer (you should only see a few small bubbles and slight movement in the lentils). Cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. The lentils are fully cooked when they are just tender and still have a bit of a bite to them. Be careful not to overcook your lentils because they will become mushy. Drain lentils and return them to the pot and add a pinch of salt. Cool and reserve lentils. At this point, if you are not preparing the salad right away, you could add your cooled lentils to a container and refrigerate up to 1 week.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add orzo, stir orzo to prevent noodles from sticking, cook uncovered for 9-11 minutes until al dente. Drain, cool, and reserve orzo.
Combine cooled lentils, orzo, carrots, red onions, and parsley in a bowl.
Wisk together lemon juice, olive oil, dried dill, salt and pepper, and pour over salad. Toss to combine. Note: You may not use all of the dressing. Let salad rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour so flavors develop before serving.
This salad will hold up well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.