Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Side view of two stacked plates filled with salad

I have a lot of love for lentils. I could even count the ways: culinarily, nutritionally, texturally, and versatilely.  (You can read about my family history with the legume in this post.) Suffice it to say they’re a pantry staple for me and I like finding ways to serve them up besides the traditional bowl of soup or dal. This Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette fits the bill. It’s a recreation of a wonderful dish I had at the wonderful The Fork at Agate Bay in my wonderful town of Bellingham.

Spinach salad on a plate

It’s almost like the folks at The Fork followed some kind of checklist to create this recipe to make the perfect salad. It’s got everything – savory, sweet, crunchy, chewy, soft, and creamy, all rounded out with the tang of lemony acidity.

Side view of a plate of spinach salad with lentils and cheese

And from a nutrition standpoint, it’s got a lot going for it: vitamin-A-rich leafy greens, protein-rich legumes, calcium-rich cheese, and monounsaturated-fat-rich walnuts. Lucky for us, when taken together it’s also a remarkably tasty mix.

Plate of spinach salad with toppings

I’m not the only one singing their praises. If you need more convincing that this legume should have a spot in your pantry and on your plate, read Why Americans Should Eat Lentils Every Day from the Washington Post.

Top down view of white bowl filled with green lentils


Trust me…if you can’t imagine liking lentils, let alone loving them, give this recipe a whirl. The salty white cheddar, sweet raisins, and candied walnuts just might bring about a change of heart.


What’s your favorite way to bust out of the lentil soup routine and feature these legumes at the center of your plate?


This post was originally published in 2015, but it was updated with new pictures and tweaks to the recipe instructions in 2023.



Lentil and Spinach Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)


5 from 1 review

Nutritionally, this salad is a powerhouse. Luckily, it tastes great too.

  • Author: Veg Girl RD
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Salad


  • 8 ounces Le Puy green lentils (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (I use 1 cube Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon with Sea Salt, prepared according to package directions, dissolved in 2 cups water)
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 1/2 lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 ounces candied or caramelized walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Rinse lentils and drain. Add to medium saucepan with broth. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered 25-30 minutes or until tender but still whole and able to hold their shape (i.e. not mushy). Add small amounts of hot water as needed to keep the lentils barely covered while they cook. Mine got very close to done after 25 minutes, so I turned off the heat, left them covered, and they were perfect after sitting for 3 minutes.
  2. Drain lentils if necessary, and set them aside to partially cool. (I spread mine out on a large plate to speed this up a bit.)
  3. In small jar, mix together lemon juice and olive oil for the dressing.
  4. Divide spinach and basil equally among four plates. Top each with 3/4 cup cooked lentils. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the lemon vinaigrette.
  5. To each salad add 1 tablespoon raisins, 1/2 ounce candied walnuts, and 1 ounce cheddar cubes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.


You can certainly make your own candied walnuts if you have a favorite technique. I found them ready-made at Trader Joe’s (walnuts, sugar, canola oil, salt) and Whole Foods (walnuts, sugar, sunflower oil).

Not yet convinced to try lentils in a salad? Take a peek at these additional nutrition facts: 70%DV vitamin A, 30% DV vitamin C, 25%DV calcium, 30%DV iron.


  • Serving Size: 1 salad
  • Calories: 490
  • Sugar: 12 g
  • Sodium: 520 mg
  • Fat: 22 g
  • Saturated Fat: 8 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 51 g
  • Fiber: 8 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Cholesterol: 25 mg

Did you make this recipe?

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Kristine Duncan

Kristine Duncan, Registered Dietitian

I’m a Registered Dietitian, the author of Veg Girl RD, and a vegetarian who loves to eat. I’m a nutrition nerd who teaches at the University of Washington and Skagit Valley College. I also write about nutrition professionally for magazines and books. If you want to know more, check out my About page.

2 thoughts on “Spinach and Lentil Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette”

  1. Pingback: 10 Bento Lunches for Summer - Veg Girl RD

  2. Pingback: A Week's Worth of Summer Salads - Veg Girl RD

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