Autumn Lentil Kale Salad with Parmesan
The perfect Autumn salad! This Lentil Kale Salad with Parmesan has tons of al-dente cooked lentils, Tuscan kale, plump golden raisins, pepitas, and it’s drizzled with a simple red wine vinaigrette. Perfect as a main course or a side salad!
Today’s post is sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. We’re using cute little beluga lentils in today’s lentil kale salad recipe!
Healthful, flavorful, colorful, and autumn perfect.
Just a few of the reasons I absolutely adore today’s lentil kale salad recipe.
Friends, there is just so much goodness loaded into this one salad recipe. It’s not only stunning to look at but also tastes just as beautiful. You’ve got hearty, thinly sliced kale, beluga lentils, aka little powerhouse of nutrition, juicy golden raisins, all drizzled with a lightly tangy but mild red wine vinaigrette. I can almost taste the flavors in my mind’s eye and mouth as my fingers slide across the keyboard.
It’s also important to note that my lentil kale salad recipe can easily be made vegan-friendly by skipping the parmesan cheese and replacing the honey with maple syrup.
We’ll jump into today’s lentil kale salad recipe in just a sec.
First, I want to talk to you a little bit about pulses. Starting with what the heck are they? I mean you hear lentils, chickpeas, but then there’s beans and dry peas too. By the time you’ve walked through the rice and beans aisle (which, I think should be called the rice and pulses aisle, please and thank you) and have seen the crazy amount of variety, you’re left with your head spinning. The simple answer: pulses are just that – they’re dry beans, lentils, chickpeas, and dry peas too. Think of it as an umbrella word to fit in all these great superfoods.
And superfoods they are! Not only are pulses high in both protein and fiber, but they’re also naturally low in fat. That’s three jumbo stars in my book! But then they’re also wallet-friendly and completely versatile. And I think, man I love pulses just a little bit more than I did a second ago when I think about all the ways to use them. I’ve added them to homemade soups, on salads, like today’s lentil kale salad, sandwiches, even in Indian inspired daals and as a meatless option for stuffed zucchini!
These little nuggets of nutrition work well with all types of cuisines too, so don’t be afraid to try making things like lentil or chickpea bolognese.
So let’s break down today’s lentil kale salad recipe. I used beluga or black lentils today, but you could easily swap them for small brown or French green lentils too if that’s what you’ve got had. You do you! And hey, if you haven’t quite acquired the taste for lentils just yet, beans would work well here too. Black beans, which you guys know are my absolute faves or chickpeas would make this salad just as hearty and delicious.
For the greens, use whatever kind of kale you like! I prefer this salad with Tuscan or lacinato kale as it tends to hold up well with the dressing. I’ve also replaced some of the kale with shaved brussels sprouts in the past, so experiment with this lentil salad and use what you like.
About that dressing. We’ll soak our golden raisins in the red wine vinegar while we prep the lentils and chop the kale. This allows the raisins to rehydrate a bit and it draws out some of their natural sweetness. Doing this helps us use a little less sweetener in the dressing too. Then it’s as simple and removing the golden raisins, combining it with lemon juice, honey, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. You could do all of this in a mason jar, and give it a few good shakes and there you have it!
Your simple red wine vinaigrette all ready to go.
A few final words: this lentil kale salad would make a great addition to your Thanksgiving feast. It’s a brilliant, colorful little number that will brighten up your table but also, it’s make-ahead friendly. I’ve dressed the salad as much as two hours in advance, and it tastes better with time. The lentils soak up the dressing, and the kale wilts down just enough to where it tastes like it was intentionally marinating for that long. So so good.
Let this simple protein-packed lentil kale salad make your lunchtime/dinnertime/holiday time a little extra delicious!
P.S. are you looking for ways to eat healthier during the upcoming holiday season? Just add pulses! Signup for the Half-Cup Habit, and see how easy it can be to add 1/2 cup servings of pulses (beans, lentils, dry peas, and chickpeas) to your diet three times a week!
- 1/3 cup golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 1/2 cups thinly sliced Tuscan kale*
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup pepitas
- 1 cup cooked beluga lentils*
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- soak: add the raisins and the red wine vinegar to a small bowl, let the raisins soak for 10-15 minutes while you clean and chop the kale.
- dressing: remove the golden raisins to a small bowl using a slotted spoon. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper to the vinegar and use a whisk to combine. Alternately, you can add the dressing to a mason jar and shake until the dressing thickens.
- salad: Place the kale in a large bowl, dress the salad and toss. Add the lentils, golden raisins, pepitas, and parmesan cheese as desired. Give it a taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
- You can use any variety of kale that you like for this salad! You can even replace some or all of the kale with shaved brussels sprouts.
- To cook your own lentils start with 1/2 cup dried beluga lentils with 1 1/4 cup of water or broth in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover the saucepan so that 1/4 of it is venting the steam. Let the lentils cook for 20-23 minutes or until just cooked. You want them to still have a bite to them. Drain and let cool before using in the salad.
This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada.