Israeli lentil salad

Together with a citrusy dressing and sautéed onions, these lentils are quite tasty.
Together with a citrusy dressing and sautéed onions, these lentils are quite tasty. (Photo: Miriam Kresh/Unpacked)

I first ate this salad at a small, family-run eatery in a northern town in Israel. It was so obviously home-made, with a subtle lemon dressing lending sharpness to the lentils’ earthiness, and onions adding pungency. You could tell that the cook had tasted, seasoned and tasted again until she was satisfied. I tasted carefully, too, and took the idea home. This is my version. I like to serve this salad as part of a mezze (an array of several kinds of salads). It’s convenient in winter because all the ingredients are easy to come by. In summer, though, I serve it as a main dish with hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers on the side. Pita bread, too, of course.

The salad is packed with protein and fiber, and is fine eating for anyone, but especially vegetarians, lactose-intolerant folks, or those who must eat gluten-free.

Israeli lentil salad

Prep10 minutes
Cook Time1 hour


  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp salt and more to taste
  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil

For the dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped mint
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice of ½ orange


  • Pick over and rinse the lentils. Put them in a medium pan with the water and the bay leaf.
  • Simmer until the lentils are tender, but don’t overcook and let them lose their shape. Depending on the age and variety, this may take from 30 to 60 minutes. Add salt only when they’re just underdone – cooked, but not quite done. Stir.
  • When tasting proves that the lentils are cooked through, drain them of excess water and allow them to cool. Remove the bay leaf.
  • While the lentils are cooling, chop the onion and sauté it until translucent in a little olive oil. Set aside.
  • Blend all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Pour the dressing over the cooled lentils; stir the onions in.
  • Cover and put aside for 1 hour before serving. Even better, leave it in the fridge overnight and serve the next day.

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