This simple lentil salad really delivers. It’s one of those salads where each ingredient really works together to create a perfect balance.
The lentils and couscous are cooked in broth (adding a slight saltiness). Then they are mixed in with arugula, green onions, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, and a light lemon dressing. You can stop there for a really great salad. Or add a little more depth with some lavender and edible flowers (or herbes de provence in the off-season).
I want to let you in on a little secret: this is a perfect salad for dinner parties. What makes something a good candidate for bringing to (or hosting) a dinner party? In my opinion…
- Tastes good, obviously!
- Has a good presentation (a nice bonus)
- Can be made ahead and travels well
- Holds for an extra day or two as leftovers
This salad recipe nails each of those criteria, which isn’t easy when it comes to a pre-dressed salad. In fact, I discovered this salad when someone else brought this to a little dinner party years ago and we all kept going back for more.
Want more recipes for May? See what else is in season along with recipes that only use ingredients available this month!
Lemony Lentil Salad with Lavender & Honey
- 1/2 cup dry whole wheat couscous
- 3/4 cup vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry green lentils
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 8 oz baby arugula
- 2 green onions
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
- 4 oz feta cheese
- 2 lemons
- 2 tsp honey wildflower preferred
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 4 springs lavender*
- Edible flowers * optional
COOK LENTILS & COUSCOUS - START EARLY
Ideally, the lentils and couscous are cooled when added to the salad, so they don't wilt the arugula.
To start the lentils, place the lentils and broth in a pan, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender, around 35 minutes.
To make the couscous, bring the broth to a boil, remove from heat and add the couscous. Stir well, then cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Place both in the fridge until ready to use.
PREP THE SALAD & DRESSING
Toast the pine nuts in pan for about 5 minutes until they start to turn golden.
Cut the green onion into thin slices.
Zest 1 lemon into a bowl for dressing. Add the juice of 1 lemon and honey to the bowl. Mix and whisk in olive oil. Taste, and add more lemon as desired.
COMBINE & SERVE
Mix arugula, couscous, lentils, green onions and dressing. Top with cheese, pine nuts, lavender and flowers.
Lavender can be replaced with herbes de provence.
Marigolds, nasturtiums and pansies are all great edible flowers. Chive blossoms would be fun as well.
- Make ahead & leftovers – make the lentils and couscous ahead of time, as well as toasting the pine nuts. Combine all ingredients when you are ready to serve. The salad holds up well for 2 days in the fridge, so feel free to make a larger batch (it doubles well).
- Flowers & flavor – You can find edible flowers with freshly packed herbs in grocery stores sometimes. You can also go to a farmers market to try and find marigolds (also known as calendula). Remove the petals and toss them in the salad (often the other parts of the flower are quite bitter). Here are some flavor profiles:
- Nasturtiums are peppery, and wonderful. The leaves of the nasturtium plant are also edible.
- Marigolds range in flavor from mild to tangy to bitter. I often find they taste buttery.
- Pansies taste slightly grassy.
- Chive blossoms have a light onion flavor.
- For a good list of edible flowers (and how to use them), check out West Coast’s Seeds article.
- Different colored lentils – green lentils hold up well when cooked (they don’t get mushy). So they are preferred for salads. Brown lentils could also work, but red ones will be mushy. For more information on different lentils, read The Kitchn’s article.
- Additional nutrition information – 1 serving provides 34% of your daily protein (thanks to the lentils and feta cheese), 40% of your fiber, and 20-30% of a long list of vitamins and other nutrients.
Round out the meal
The lentil salad pairs well with simple grilled meat, like fish topped with some lemon butter, a simple grilled grass-fed steak topped with butter and chives, or grilled chicken with lemon and herbs. It also works well with a light soup.
Inspiration for the Lentil Salad
One of my favorite people, Erin, brought a version of this salad to a cookout and it stole the spotlight. Yeah, at a meat-focuses cookout… that’s saying something. The one she made that particular evening didn’t have the lavender or edible flowers, but she has encouraged me to experiment with recipes to create something new. This was one such experiment that turned out really well.