Curried Lentil Salad

Prepare to fall in love with this lentil salad recipe! It's filled with bold curry flavor, it's fresh, yet satisfying, and it even tastes great on day two.

Lentil Salad

This lentil salad recipe is my ideal winter lunch. It’s fresh and filled with veggies, but it’s hearty and satisfying at the same time. Curry spices and a zippy cilantro lime dressing infuse it with bright, bold flavor, and cubes of roasted paneer cheese and crisp turmeric cauliflower give it unexpected complexity and texture. Furthermore (yes, there’s more!), it’s flexible and easy to make, and it still tastes great after a few days in the fridge!

Serve it as a side dish or prep it on a Sunday for lunches all week, but no matter what, make this lentil salad recipe. We’ve had it on repeat for the last few weeks, and we still can’t get enough. I think you’ll love it too!

Lentil salad recipe ingredients

Lentil Salad Recipe Ingredients

Ready to try this lentil salad recipe? Here’s what you’ll need to make it:

  • French green lentils – Unlike regular green or brown lentils, French green lentils hold their shape when cooked, and they have a nice al dente bite. If you can’t find French green lentils, you can substitute black Beluga lentils, but any other lentil variety would be too mushy for this recipe! Read more about the different types of lentils here.
  • Paneer – Cubes of roasted paneer add a rich, savory, and chewy element to this salad. If you’re not familiar with paneer, it’s a fresh Indian cheese. Look for it in the cheese section of your grocery store. I find mine at Whole Foods!
  • Cilantro lime dressing – I blend serrano chiles into my regular cilantro lime dressing to give this salad some heat. If you don’t like spice, just use one pepper here, but I make mine with two for extra kick!
  • Cumin, cardamom, ginger, and garlic – Mixed into a simple dressing with lemon juice, these seasonings infuse the cooked lentils with delicious curry flavor.
  • Chopped spinach – It makes this lentil salad extra fresh!
  • Roasted cauliflower – It adds the perfect light crunch! I toss the cauliflower with ground turmeric while it’s still warm from the oven, which gives it a vibrant yellow color and amps up the other curry seasonings here.

Roasted paneer on a baking sheet

How to Make Lentil Salad

To make this recipe, start by cooking the lentils. When the lentils are tender, drain them and toss them with olive oil, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, cumin, and cardamom while they’re still warm. Then, blend up the dressing, and stir 1/3 of it into the lentil mixture.

Meanwhile, roast the paneer and cauliflower until they’re crisp and browned around the edges. Toss the cauliflower with the ground turmeric while it’s still hot from the oven!

Finally, assemble the salad. Stir the chopped spinach into the lentils, and top it all with the paneer and cauliflower. Drizzle more dressing over the salad, and serve!

Lentil salad recipe ingredients

Lentil Salad Recipe Tips

  • Make it ahead. This recipe is a fantastic make-ahead lunch, and as written, it keeps well in the fridge for up to two days. If you plan to prep it multiple days in advance, skip the spinach, and use finely chopped kale in its place. Alternatively, wait to stir in the spinach until you’re ready to eat (or before you head out the door on the morning you’re taking it for lunch). Check out this post for more healthy lunch ideas and this one for more meal prep tips!
  • Don’t forget the lime! I like this lentil salad best when it’s super bright, so I serve it with extra cilantro lime dressing on the side. If you’re packing it for lunch, tuck a lime wedge into your container. Squeeze it over the lentils right before you eat for extra fresh, zesty flavor!
  • Change it up. This lentil salad recipe is flexible, so feel free to play with it! Instead of cauliflower, try roasted broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, or even regular potatoes. Add some chopped green or red onion, or swap arugula for the spinach. If you can’t find paneer, use halloumi in its place, or top your salad with crumbled feta cheese. For a yummy vegan variation, substitute cubes of baked tofu. Let me know what variations you try!

Lentils in a bowl with cilantro lime dressing

More Hearty Salad Recipes

If you love this lentil salad recipe, try one of these hearty salads next:

Or check out this post for more delicious salad ideas!

Lentil Salad

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Curried Lentil Salad

rate this recipe:
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4
This curried lentil salad recipe is a hearty vegetarian lunch or side dish! To take it over the top, serve it with extra cilantro lime dressing on the side.


  • 2 1/2 cups cooked French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Heaping ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Cilantro Lime Dressing
  • 1 to 2 serrano chiles, (blend with the dressing)
  • 8 ounces paneer cheese, cubed*
  • Florets from 1 small cauliflower
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 4 cups spinach, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the bottom of a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, salt, and several grinds of pepper. Add the lentils and stir.
  • Make the Cilantro Lime Dressing, adding the serrano chiles to the food processor while preparing the original recipe. Mix ⅓ of the dressing into the lentils.
  • Place the paneer on the first baking sheet and the cauliflower on the second. Toss both with drizzles of olive oil, pinches of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Roast the paneer for 15 minutes and the cauliflower for 20 to 25 minutes. When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, toss with the turmeric.
  • Add the chopped spinach to the lentils and toss. Top with the cauliflower and paneer. Drizzle more dressing on top and serve with remaining dressing on the side.


*Make this recipe vegan by using baked tofu in place of the paneer.


5 from 10 votes (5 ratings without comment)

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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Mary

    5 stars
    Wow! This salad is so damn good! I’ve never made lentils before but this recipe convinced me to try them. This will definitely be on repeat.

  2. Cathy

    5 stars
    Wonderful recipes, and just what I’ve been looking for.

  3. Ruth Marie Shelstad

    5 stars
    I adore your books. Please consider including the recipe for paneer if you wish. It is dead easy to make and includes Lemons! Milk sometimes also buttermilk and lemon juice cheesecloth to strain and a bit of time; that’s it. Many Thanks

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ruth, thank you for the suggestion! I’m glad you’re enjoying the books.

  4. Alicia

    Is there some substitute for the cardamom? I don’t have it in my pantry- can I use garam masala or curry powder

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Alicia, yep, either of those would be fine!

      • Alicia

        5 stars
        Thanks! Btw I really love your recipes and have made it a mission to try as many of them as possible

  5. Reggie

    5 stars
    Does anyone have or know how to determine the nutritional information for this delicious recipe?
    My wife made the vegan version by mistake, it was 👍! Can’t wait to try the non-veagan version for comparison..

    Looking for nutrition facts to help with health management.

  6. Gillian Dryjanski

    I would love to make this but I really hate cilantro. Do you have another suggestion for a fresh, citrusy dressing I could use in its place?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Gillian, in this How to Cook Lentils post there’s a recipe for a lemon Dijon dressing that I love. I’d use that! It would be delicious with the roasted cauliflower, extra squeezes of lemon, parsley or basil… and I’d use feta in place of paneer. Or you could add those lemony lentils to this Greek Salad for a mediterranean twist. I hope those ideas are helpful!

  7. suzi

    If one were vegan and wanted to substitute the paneer… is there something best to use? This salad looks spectacular!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Baked tofu would be great! See the link in the recipe note area for my favorite method.

      • suzi

        Very nice, thank you!! Was considering baked almond cheese. I bet either would be fabulous!!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.