This Gut-Healthy Ingredient Is the Perfect Way To Upgrade Your Sad Lunch Salad

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Looking for a new way to use up those lentils you bought in March? Try this amazing chopped lentil salad.

One surprising change in this erratic season of "America" is that I have never appreciated takeout more. It's not really feasible to order a Guacamole Greens from Sweetgreen every afternoon, but when faced with a salad of my own making, I'm more bored with the results than I was watching all three-and-a-half hours of The Irishman. I'd just about given up hope until chef Palak Patel introduced me to her go-to chopped salad in the latest episode of Well+Good's YouTube series Cook With Us. Her secret ingredient? Lentils.

"Traditionally chopped salad is just with vegetables, but I love adding that extra crunchy component," Patel says. "Plus it keeps you full for longer," she adds—always an ideal quality in a lunch salad. She recommends cooking them in vegetable stock rather than water to give them extra flavor, along with onion, bay leaf, and parsley. What's missing? Salt. If you salt the lentils while they're cooking, they'll turn out tough, Patel warns. (Good. To. Know.) Once cooked, add salt, then let the legume cool off to room temperature before you combine it with your other salad ingredients.

Not only do lentils add flavor and texture to this salad, they also boast some serious gut-health benefits. For starters, the legume is packed with fiber (cup for cup, it has nearly four times the fiber of kale.) A diet high in fiber has been shown to increase the good bacteria in your gut, including the bacteria that help your body make more of the intestinal cells that defend your gut from pathogens. Fiber also helps your body fight off bad bacteria in your gut. Fiber also helps slow down your digestion and keep you regular. Lentils are also a great source of plant-based protein. What's not to love?

Ready to end the reign of sad homemade salads for good? Get the full lentil chopped salad recipe by watching the video above.

Chopped lentil salad recipe


For the lentils:
1 cup lentils
2 cups water or vegetable broth
Aromatics: celery, fennel fronds, garlic, quarter onion, bay leaf, and thyme

For the salad:
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
1 small fennel, chopped
1 small carrot, diced
2 Tbsp dill
2 Tbsp parsley
1 shallot, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Water as needed

For the dressing:
2 lemons, juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin

1. Wash and drain lentils.

2. Bring water or broth to boil and add lentils with aromatics.

3. Reduce the heat to simmer and set cooking time according to package directions.

4. In a small bowl, add shallots, vinegar, and water. Set aside.

5. Chop salad vegetables and arrange them in a large bowl with the cooked lentils.

6. Using a whisk, mix lemon juice, olive oil, Dijon, salt, pepper, and cumin to make the dressing.

7. Strain shallots and add to salad.

8. Dress salad and serve.

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