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Melissa d’Arabian’s Lentil Quinoa Salad

July 29, 2013


July almost slipped by with nary a Mrs. Smith Cooks post! I spent almost three full and weeks in Chicago while Elias was starting his Master of Divinity program at Indiana Wesleyan University. One of the more glorious parts of the vacation time, for me, was watching the Food Network. Not only do I not have cable on which to watch Food Network, I rarely have time. My mom was good enough to DVR some shows in advance. While I didn’t get to them all (On my second to last day there, my dad reviewed his DVR queue and proclaimed “Um, there are 27 Barefoot Contessas on here. Are you planning to watch them?) I really enjoyed catching up on some of my favorite Food Network shows. One of my absolute favorites is Ten Dollar Dinners. Not only does the theme appeal to me ( good food for families on a budget!) but the recipes are always familiar, but with a little twist.

This quinoa/lentil salad is fresh, super healthy (protein!) and quick to make.  It doesn’t win any awards for being pretty to look at, but it tastes great. I have to say, I like it even better than the other quinoa salad I posted on Mrs. Smith Cooks while ago. I’ve made this several times, and here’s what I’ve learned about it:

  • You know how a lot of times I say “This recipe is perfect for customizing! Just throw in what you have, and it will be great!” This recipe is not one of them. I’ve made it without all the ingredients, trying to substitute other things or just leave them out, and it sometimes comes out boring.  So,  if you, like me, read this recipe and think “I have most of this stuff in my pantry right now, I’ll just make it without the X” I urge you to wait, buy whatever is missing and then make it. There’s something about this salad that just “comes together”
  • The salad gets better overnight as it chills and the dressing really soaks into the quinoa.
  • If you read the 145 reviews on the original recipe (raise your hand if you always do that. Me too.) You will note that many people urge cooking the lentils and/or the quinoa in broth ahead of time, claiming it makes the flavor so much better. I tried this and disagree. I don’t think there’s a noticeable difference in this recipe when either or both the lentils/quinoa are cooked in broth. Save your broth for something where it matters.
  • I’ve never tried this with canned lentils, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.
  • This is the original recipe, doubled. It didn’t make sense to me to make such a small portion when this salad keeps so well in the fridge and actually gets better over time.


Lentil and Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa + 2 1/2 cups water (or 4 cups cooked quinoa)
1 cup lentils
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or other neutral flavored oil)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
zest of two limes
4 green onions, chopped
1 medium sized handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves


1. Put the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly

2. Add quinoa to a microwave safe bowl and mix with the water.

3. Cover and microwave on high for 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed

4. Let stand for two minutes and fluff with a fork

5. Quinoa should be cooked through but have a little bit of bite to it. (a lot like rice)


1. Put lentils in a pot and cover with about an inch of cold water

2. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 20-30 minutes until lentils are tender but not mushy



1. Whisk together the Dijon and vinegar. Drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Add lime zest, garlic powder and salt/pepper


Mix the cooled quinoa and lentils, green onions and cilantro together. Pour the dressing over everything, toss to coat. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust if necessary. Serve cold.

Adapted from Melissa d’Arabian

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