lentil pasta salad in bowl with serving spoon.

Easy Lentil Pasta Salad

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This easy lentil pasta salad recipe is a healthier version of a classic pasta salad. This simple side dish is perfect for a party, picnic, or barbecue. Filled with vegetables and a fresh lemony vinaigrette – the essence of summer!

Why This Recipe Works

Tasty: a lemony homemade vinaigrette with tricolor rotini and fresh vegetables with basil make lentils into a delicious salad for any occasion.

Healthy: featuring lentils, which are a great source of protein and fiber (read more from this article from the Cleveland Clinic: Lentils: The Big Health Benefits of Tiny Seeds). One serving of this salad provides 9 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. This side dish is a great vegan option for entertaining.

Quick: Cooking the lentils and pasta together while making the dressing and chopping the veggies makes this an efficient recipe.

Ingredients

Pasta Salad

easy lentil pasta salad ingredients in bowls like pasta, lentils, olives, bell pwppers, tomatoes, and fresh basil.
  • Tri-color pasta – I like rotini, medium shells, or radiatore for pasta salad so the dressing and lentils cling to the pasta. Whole wheat or regular pasta would be fine to use. See more ideas here: The Best Pasta Shapes for Making Pasta Salad from McCormick.
  • Green or brown lentils – don’t use red or yellow lentils for this recipe: they become mushy when cooked.
  • Grape or cherry tomatoes – I used “Sweet Bites” cherry tomatoes from Aldi for this recipe. Heroloom or fresh cherry or grape tomatoes are good choices too for a lot of flavor.
  • Bell peppers
  • Red onion – or sweet onion would be a good choice if you don’t want the sharpness of red onions.
  • Black olives – sliced black olives, or you can use kalamata, green, or your favorite type
  • Fresh basil leaves

Dressing

  • Red wine vinegar
  • Lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Dijon mustard
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

How to Make Easy Lentil Pasta Salad

  • Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  • Place the tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and sliced olives in a large bowl.
  • Rinse the lentils and sort through them to remove any debris. When the water is boiling, add the lentils and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the same pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk them, or in a small jar and shake the dressing. Add it to the vegetables in the large bowl.
  • After the lentils and pasta have cooked together for 10 minutes, you can try them by pulling out a little with a slotted spoon and rinsing them under cold water. Both should be soft enough to eat, but not mushy. Drain the lentils and pasta together in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Add the pasta and lentil mixture and the dressing to the large bowl of vegetables and mix everything together well. Top with the slices of fresh basil.

Storage

I think this is a recipe that actually tastes better than next day or at least after it has been in the refrigerator for a few hours so that the flavors can combine better. You can keep it in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days in a covered container. The dressing soaks into the pasta when it sits, so add a splash more red wine vinegar before serving it.

Freezing this salad is not recommended due to the fresh vegetables.

What to Serve With This Salad

  • Veggie burger
  • Fresh corn tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole
  • Corn on the cob
  • Grilled Veggies
  • Orange Tahini Grilled Tofu
  • Watermelon
  • Fresh fruit salad

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lentil pasta salad in bowl with serving spoon.

Easy Lentil Pasta Salad

Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
If you're looking for a simple side dish for a party, picnic, or barbecue, try this lentil pasta salad. Made with protein-rich lentils and fresh vegetables, this is a nutritious and colorful recipe.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 8
Calories 254 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Medium pot
  • Colander
  • paring knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large mixing bowl

Ingredients
  

Pasta Salad

  • cups tri-color pasta uncooked
  • ½ cup green or brown lentils uncooked
  • ¾ cup grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup bell peppers seeded and chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion chopped
  • ¼ cup black olives sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped

Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
  • Place the tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, and sliced olives in a large mixing bowl.
  • Rinse the lentils and sort through them to remove any debris. When the water is boiling, add the lentils and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the same pot and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients together in a bowl and whisk them, or in a small jar and shake the dressing. Add it to the vegetables in the large bowl.
  • After the lentils and pasta have cooked together for 10 minutes, you can try them by pulling out a little with a slotted spoon and rinsing them under cold water. Both should be soft enough to eat, but not mushy. Drain the lentils and pasta together in a colander and rinse with cold water.
  • Add the pasta and lentil mixture and the dressing to the large bowl of vegetables and mix everything together well. Top with the slices of fresh basil.

Notes

The nutrition estimate is from Spoonacular and is based on using green lentils and cherry tomatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 254kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 9gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 151mgPotassium: 283mgFiber: 6gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 398IUVitamin C: 18mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Barbecue, Pasta, Pasta salad, Picnic, Salad
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