Simple to make with pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients, Lunch Box Tomato Basil Lentil Salad packs beautifully for lunch on-the-go, and also makes the perfect side or potluck dish.
So I have to admit that sometimes I get a little jealous of other food bloggers out there.
You know what I'm talking about, right? The bloggers who use tons of butter and cheese and sugar and chocolate and make super exciting, sexy recipes that everyone drools over?
And then I'm over here like, "Hi." "Want to try some lentils?"
It hardly seems fair.
But of course it is fair, because lentils are actually awesome. And so is vibrant, real food. I think this stuff is exciting and sexy. I hope you do, too.
On that point, let's talk about lentils. Have you ever made them at home? For some reason I used to be intimidated by lentils. I have no idea why. Maybe they seemed fancy and complicated? Who knows.
I'm glad I moved past the fear and jumped on the lentil train, though, because they are super easy to make. I promise. Just boil them in water and drain. Pretty much just like making pasta.
Once they are boiled and drained lentils are super versatile. Add a simple dressing, fresh herbs, and cooked or raw veggies and magic happens. In this case I went with the classic garlic-balsamic-tomato-basil combo because the flavors just go so darn well together.
And since lentils are packed with plant-based protein and fiber they make the perfect base for filling lunches on-the-go.
Since a version of this lentil salad is in my lunch box a least once a week, I decided it was definitely time to share it here on the blog.
If I'm taking it on-the-go I like to pack this salad in a wide-mouth mason jar with a tight fitting lid to avoid any leaks. Then I'll add a piece of fruit and some crusty sourdough bread or some gluten-free sweet potato cracker and I'm pretty much set for lunch.
The best part is that this salad can be prepped in big batches and then stored in individual containers for several days. Sometimes I'll make a batch on the weekend in preparation for the week, or I'll make it as a side on Sunday and use leftovers for lunch. Whatever's simpler.
Of course, you don't have to save this recipe for lunch. It makes a lovely side or vegetarian main. It's also great for picnics and potlucks since it can be made ahead and actually tastes better after it sits awhile.
If you haven't tried lentils before I hope you'll give them a shot. French green or brown lentils work well in this recipe. Just be sure to give them a good rinse and look through them to make sure there aren't any tiny stones or debris from the picking process.
Then boil, drain, and add your favorite ingredients. Easy, peasy. Now, let's make some Lunch Box Tomato Basil Lentil Salad!
RECIPE & KID-FRIENDLY ADAPTATIONS
1 | Use any chopped veggies you like to bulk up this salad. Chopped carrot and celery adds nice crunch and scallion lends a lovely edge.
2 | Don't care for tomatoes? Leave them out in favor of a veggie of choice.
3 | If you don't have fresh basil, flat leaf parsley makes a nice alternative.
4 | Add fresh mozzarella of feta to make this more of a Caprese-style lentil salad.
5 | My four year-old would probably not go for this salad as is, but she will eat plain lentils with a little salt. I'll often pull a small amount of cooked lentils for her prior to adding the remaining ingredients and then serve those along with sliced tomatoes.
THIS RECIPE IS . . .
Naturally Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free, Vegetarian, and Vegan
Lunch Box Tomato Basil Lentil Salad
1 cup French or brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 pound Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced or finely grated
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup packed basil, thinly sliced
1. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan along with 4 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender by not falling apart. Start testing at 20 minutes to avoid over cooking. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the garlic, vinegar, and salt. Stream in the olive oil, whisking until well combined.
3. Pour the warm, drained lentils into the bowl with the dressing, stirring to coat. Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the dressing to absorb.
4. Stir in the tomatoes and basil. Taste and add additional salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.