Recipe: Thanksgiving Lentil Salad (2024)

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Sheela Prakash

Sheela PrakashSenior Contributing Food Editor

Sheela is the Senior Contributing Food Editor at Kitchn and the author of Mediterranean Every Day: Simple, Inspired Recipes for Feel-Good Food. She received her master's degree from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy and is also a Registered Dietitian.


updated May 1, 2019

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Recipe: Thanksgiving Lentil Salad (1)

A hearty recipe for lentil salad with butternut squash, red onion, and kale tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

Serves8 to 10

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Recipe: Thanksgiving Lentil Salad (2)

This year’s star vegetarian main dish will make the omnivores at the table casually ask if they can have some too. It’s not just your average lentil salad — it’s a lentil salad that’s filled to the brim with fall flavors like caramelized roasted butternut squash and red onions, hearty kale, toasted pecans, and sweet golden raisins, all dressed up in a roasted garlic-sherry vinaigrette.

Served warm or at room temperature, it’s a special dish that adds an extra touch of color to the Thanksgiving table and ensures those who aren’t eating turkey have something delicious and wholesome to call their own.

A Lentil Salad That Goes Above and Beyond

You might not think a lentil salad is special enough to serve on Thanksgiving, but this one incorporates a few unique touches to make it shine. Roasting a couple of garlic cloves — or a whole head in case you’d like to add the rest to your mashed potatoes — on the sheet pan with the other vegetables turns them golden-brown and soft enough to be mashed for the base of the vinaigrette, which adds a mellow yet complex sweetness to it that will have your guests wondering just what is in it.

Tossing the lentils with the vinaigrette while they are still warm ensures they quickly begin to marinate in it and soak up all that rich flavor. Finally, a finishing touch of chopped fresh parsley, stirred in right before serving so that its brightness isn’t lost, adds an element of freshness to the earthy salad before guests dig in.


A hearty recipe for lentil salad with butternut squash, red onion, and kale tossed in a roasted garlic vinaigrette.

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium butternut squash (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1

    large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

  • 2

    cloves garlic, unpeeled

  • 8 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cups

    French green lentils

  • 2

    bay leaves

  • 1/4 cup

    sherry vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1

    small bunch flat-leaf kale (about 6 ounces), stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

  • 1 cup

    toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

  • 1 cup

    golden raisins

  • 1/2 cup

    coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.

  2. Place the squash, onion, garlic, 2 tablespoons of the oil, a big pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a large bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer (reserve the bowl). Roast until the vegetables are tender and very caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, place the lentils and bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the lentils by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until just tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain the lentils and discard the bay leaves. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Taste and season with more salt as needed.

  4. Once the vegetables are roasted, remove the garlic cloves and set aside until they are cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes. Squeeze the roasted cloves out of their paper into the bowl used to toss the roasted vegetables and mash them with a fork. Add the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil, vinegar, mustard, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper to the bowl and whisk to combine.

  5. While the lentils are still warm, add them to the dressing. Add the kale and toss until well coated. Add the roasted vegetables, pecans, and raisins and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Just before serving, toss in the parsley. Transfer the salad to a large platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The salad can be assembled without the parsley up to 1 day ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Bring the salad to room temperature and mix in the parsley just before serving.

Storage: Leftover salad will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Recipe: Thanksgiving Lentil Salad (2024)


What can you add to lentils to make them taste better? ›

You can also add salt, aromatics like a halved onion, herbs, and spices to the pot before the lentils and the water, like beans, or wait until they're done cooking to flavor them.

Can you eat cooked lentils cold? ›

There's nothing wrong with eating cooked lentils cold; they are often used that way in various salads, such as the salad below with chopped vegetables and watercress. 3 days in the refrigerator is no problem. But I hope that you're eating other foods as well; you might get pretty gassy if that's all you're eating.

What does lentils go with? ›

Lentils are great in soups, as an addition to salads, and as a vegetarian protein source in recipes traditionally made with meat. Similar to rice, lentils take on whatever flavors you add to the pot. Instead of plain water, cook lentils in a broth or stock.

Why do I feel so good after eating lentils? ›

Lentils are rich in fibre, folate and potassium making them a great choice for the heart and for managing blood pressure and cholesterol. They are also a source of energising iron and vitamin B1 which helps maintain a steady heartbeat.

Why do I feel better after eating lentils? ›

Lentils have plenty of folate, iron and vitamin B1, which also support your heart health. Lentils may be associated with a lower risk of heart disease, by lowering bad cholesterol and blood pressure. One study found that eating lentils led to greater reductions in blood pressure than eating chickpeas, peas or beans.

When should you not eat lentils? ›

Due to their high fiber content, people with certain digestive disorders may need to limit or avoid eating lentils.

Why does my stomach hurt after eating lentils? ›

Eating lentils can cause gas and bloating because they're high in fiber that your body is unable to break down. While fiber plays a large role in supporting and regulating your digestive system and bowel movements, it can also produce bacteria that leads to cramping and gas pains.

Are lentils carbs or protein? ›

Nutrition Overview

Lentils are high in fibre, and complex carbohydrates, while low in fat and calories. Their high protein content makes lentils a perfect option for those looking to boost their protein intake. They are naturally gluten-free, making them a delicious staple in a gluten-free kitchen.

What are the tastiest lentils? ›

Black Beluga lentils have the most flavor, adding a rich, earthy taste and a firm texture that holds up well during cooking. Black lentils will be ready in 20–25 minutes; however, they will fall apart like their brown, green, and red partners once you cook them for too long.

What protein goes with lentils? ›

But if meat is still on the table for you, pair lentils with fats like duck and pork (think bacon) to add a bit of richness to this mild-flavored legume. Whether you're trying a meatless meal or making a hearty stew, lentils are a go-to pantry staple that deserve to come out of the pantry to shine this winter.

How do you eat lentils as a meal? ›

Lentil recipes
  1. Lentil bolognese. A star rating of 4.2 out of 5. ...
  2. Lentil soup. A star rating of 4.6 out of 5. ...
  3. Beetroot & lentil tabbouleh. A star rating of 3.7 out of 5. ...
  4. Squash & lentil salad. A star rating of 4.2 out of 5. ...
  5. Khichdi. ...
  6. Sausage, roasted veg & puy lentil one-pot. ...
  7. Spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal. ...
  8. Easy lentil curry.

Why do Mexicans eat lentils? ›

Lentils Bring Luck

In Mexico this versatile legume is a symbol of abundance and good fortune.

Which is the healthiest lentils? ›

Urad dal or black lentil is one of the most nutritious pulses known to mankind. Low in fat and calories, Urad dal helps to improve digestion. With it being a rich source of protein and vitamin B3, it makes our bones stronger and is said to boost energy levels, enhance heart health and strengthen our nervous system.

What are the three types of lentils? ›

There are four main categories of lentils: brown, green, red/yellow, and specialty. Brown lentils are the most common variety – any bag in the grocery store that says “lentils” without any other descriptor is most likely full of brown lentils.

How do you make lentils less boring? ›

Some garlic, tomato, herbs and 25 minutes is all you need for the most flavorful, perfectly soft lentils.” But the way they come together will make you pause and maybe giggle: You drop a whole, large tomato and four garlic cloves, jackets and all, into the pot with the dry lentils and herbs.

How do you make lentils less bland? ›

Add aromatics to the water or, even better, use chicken or vegetable stock instead of water. Follow this tip: Add a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, a spring of rosemary, half of an onion, or a combination of these aromatics to the cooking water or stock to help flavor the lentils.

What spices go best with lentils? ›

Spices – Ground coriander provides warm earthiness, ground cumin has a slight bitterness that goes well with sweet lentils, sumac is astringent with a bit of puckery sourness, and crushed red peppers add a hint of a kick. Any mild to spicy red pepper will work, like Aleppo-style pepper.

How do you fix bland lentil soup? ›

Since lentils are starchy, earthy in flavor, and can be on the bland side, there are many ways to make them flavorful, including by adding them into soup. When other ingredients are introduced that complement lentils like onions, garlic, spices, and lemon, the taste is out of this world.

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