Packed with flavor and contrasting textures, this bright and nutritious salad is hearty enough for a main dish and works well as a side. Lentil salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, and lime cilantro vinaigrette is an excellent make-ahead salad for meal planning or bringing to a potluck. Thanks to the high acid content in the limes cilantro vinaigrette, the avocado stays green even when you make it the day ahead of time.
What you Need-
- French Lentils- French green lentils! Don’t use green, brown, or red- this choice is essential because other varieties of green lentils will become mushy, and this dish will lose its texture. (more about how lentils taste)
- Avacado- The avocado introduces a deliciously creamy texture. And the lime cilantro vinaigrette has enough acid to keep the avocado from oxidizing. So even if you make a salad a day ahead, the avocado remains beautifully bright and green.
- Cummunber- Cucumber brings a subtle freshness that works well with the French lentils and a crisp texture that contrasts nicely with the avocado.
- Cherry tomatoes- I love the bursts of bright red and orange the cherry tomatoes bring two the salad. The juicy sweetness complements the bright acid of the dressing.
- Red Onion- the sharpness of the red onion rounds out the flavors, and the purple is a beautiful contrast to the green.
- Jalapeno- brings a little spice to the back grown of the salad, but if you have a more mild palate, you could use a bell pepper instead.
Great for meal prep
This salad is a great meal prep recipe. This recipe developed from a large batch of French lentils I made on the weekend and the leftovers in various ways throughout the week.
If you cook the French lentils and make the lime cilantro vinaigrette ahead of time, this salad only takes minutes to put together.
On the other hand, you can also completely make this salad and dress it, and it will hold up for a few days in the refrigerator for an effortless meal or side dish.
Either way, the recipe lends itself to the convenience of meal prepping for your week.
Cooking the French green lentils:
Add about 6 cups of water and 1 cup of French green lentils in a large saucepan. You only need 1 cup of dry lentils for this recipe because they will double in size. But when I make lentils, I rarely only make 1 cup- why not make more and have some ready in the refrigerator to add to meals later in the week?
Unlike quinoa or rice, you do not need an exact water-to-lentil ratio. Think more like you’re cooking pasta. You just need significantly more water than lentils. You can also use broth instead to add an extra layer of flavor.
I like adding a bay leaf, an onion cut in half, and a clove of garlic to flavor the lentils.
Do not salt the lentils before cooking! They will become tough and less appetizing. Bring the water and lentils to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook and low for 20-30 minutes or until tender.
Drain the water (or broth) from the lentils and set them aside until they come to room temperature before mixing them into the salad. Discard the bay leaf, half onion, and garlic.
What do you need to make Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette:
- Lime Juice – Lime juice forms the base of the salad dressing and brings a bright acid flavor.
- Olive Oil – If you don’t have olive oil, you could use vegetable oil or some other neutral flavor oil.
- Fresh Cilantro – Fresh cilantro might be the secret and essential ingredient to the dressing’s success. You could substitute or skip most of the ingredients in the salad, but cilantro is the critical flavor for me.
- Cumin– Cumin contributes to the flavor profile. It adds an earthy and warm flavor that balances well with the acidity of the lime juice.
- Jalapeño– if you like a little spice to the salad dressing, use a fresh jalapeño. I suggest scraping out the seeds and the membranes so it’s not too spicy. If you want to dial down the spice in this dressing, I recommend using four or five slices of pickled jalapeños instead of a whole fresh jalapeño. This way, you’ll get the flavor of the jalapeño just milder.
- Salt and pepper– Finish off this salad dressing with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
How to make the Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette:
Start by removing the cilantro leaves from the stem until you have enough. Next, slice your jalapeño in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Chop the two halves into small chunks. Use an immersion blender to thoroughly combine the lime juice, honey, crushed garlic, cumin, olive oil, cilantro, salt, fresh ground pepper, and chopped jalapeno creating this delicious vinaigrette.
Assemble the salad:
In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of cooked French green lentils, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and diced jalapeno. Finally, add the dressing and thoroughly mix.
You can serve the salad immediately, but It also holds up well in the refrigerator for an easy make-ahead meal.
More side salad ideas:
- White Bean Salad with Shallots
- Coleslaw with Apples and Nuts
- Black Bean and Corn Salad with Honey and Line Dressing
- Spicy Sesame Cucumber Salad
If you’ve tried this Avocado and Cherry Tomato Lentil Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette recipe or any other recipe on BalancingBowls, please let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to see more tasty meals.
Lentil Salad with Avocado, Cherry Tomato, and Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
- 2 cups cold lentils
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- 1 avocado
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
- 1 jalapeno pepper chopped
- ½ cup cilantro vinaigrette
lime cilantro vinaigrette
- ⅓ C lime juice
- 2 t honey
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- ½ t cumin
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 t cilantro
- ½ t salt
- ½ t fresh ground pepper
- 1 fresh jalapeno chopped
- In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of cooked French green lentils, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and diced jalapeno.
- Finally, add the dressing and thoroughly mix.