Everything I Want to Eat Quinoa and Lentil Salad

October 20, 2015
4 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Sorry not sorry for this monster ingredient list! (One day, you'll thank me.) —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • 1/4 cup tart dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves, divided
  • 3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 small/reasonably-sized sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 small/reasonably-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • Olive oil, for roasting and seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, for roasting and seasoning
  • one 8-ounce package tempeh, cut in half widthwise, then cut into very thin (1/8-inch) strips
  • 1 slice stale wheat bread, crumbled into small bits
  • 1 handful sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped toasted pistachios
  • 2 scallions, green parts only, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled ricotta salata
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice, for seasoning (you'll want at least 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a small bowl, add the tart dried cherries, apple cider vinegar, and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Let the cherries plump up while you plow onwards.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the lentils, 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth, 1 crushed garlic clove, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but not soft or mushy. Add water as needed to keep the lentils barely covered.
  3. In another small saucepan (I know, I'm pushing it here!), add the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is finished (you’ll see that the seed is translucent and the germ is a thin white circle around it).
  4. While the grainy and beany stuff cooks, it's time to roast the vegetables. Toss the squash and the sweet potatoes with the coriander, paprika, cayenne, the 2 remaining garlic cloves, minced, and 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (you want the pieces to be well-coated but not swimming). Spread onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two) and bake for about 30 minutes, flipping vegetables once or twice during baking, until crisp and browned in areas.
  5. Tempeh time! Cut the block in half widthwise, then cut it into very thin (1/8-inch) strips. Coat the bottom of a pan in a thin layer of olive oil and, when hot, fry the tempeh until brown and crispy on each side (you might have to work in batches). Drain it on a plate lined with paper towels.
  6. When the tempeh is done, fry the bread pieces in the leftover tempeh oil until crisp and crunchy.
  7. HALLELUJAH: You're ready to assemble. In a big bowl, mix together the roasted vegetables, quinoa, and lentils. Drain the cherries and add those, along with the fried tempeh, bread pieces, sesame seeds, scallions, sunflower seeds, pistachios, and cheese. Season with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Gingerly place avocado cubes on top, and season with a bit more salt.
  8. Reward yourself for you hard work!!!!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Suzy's Mom
    Suzy's Mom
  • Kimberly Krampf
    Kimberly Krampf
  • Sarah Jampel
    Sarah Jampel
  • Jim

10 Reviews

Jim September 27, 2023
Made this recipe today and absolutely love it. A few changes from the recipe, not because I thought I could improve, but simply because what I had in the kitchen. I substituted about half of the quinoa with wild rice, and swapped the cherries for cranberries. Used fake sausage instead of bacon as well, but given the great combination of tastes, I think this is a really flexible recipe.

The slight tang of heat from the chili, the nuttiness from the quinoa, seeds and nuts, the brightness of the citrus - this salad has it all. Super healthy, nutritious meal.
kwruk1 February 7, 2022
This was a flavorful and filling salad. I made the recipe on a Monday and I enjoyed it for dinner all week long. I admit, I left out a few ingredients to make this a little more budget friendly. I switched out the cherries for cranberries, no pistachios, no tempeh, no wheat bread, no butternut squash. It was still really good!! Im sure those ingredients made this salad shine even more, but even without, I loved it and will be making it a staple in my dinner rotation. I may double up the sweet potato. It was my favorite part!
tscarter October 14, 2020
A fun recipe - I'd recommend cooking the lentils and quinoa together to save on time/pots! (15-20 min simmering them together should get you there)
Tanya K. October 29, 2017
PATRICIA T. March 7, 2016
do you know how many calories this salad have for serving or the nutricion fact, I will apreciet if you send me, please and thank you for the recipe.
Elizabeth January 17, 2016
Do you have the nutritional break down for this? Looks fab!
Suzy's M. January 13, 2016
can i substitute something for the tempeh?
Sarah J. January 14, 2016
You can leave it out, or use some pan-fried tofu cut into small cubes! Anything in this salad can be omitted without any major concerns.
Kimberly K. October 26, 2015
Awesome salad! I doubled the amount of sweet potatoes and added one cup of cooked quinoa and lentils to the salad. I substituted dried wild blueberries for the cherries without cooking them. I added roasted pumpkin seeds along with the other nuts and seeds called for in the recipe. I loved the ricotta salata's texture and flavor in the salad! Yum! Thanks Sarah for the great recipe!
Sarah J. October 27, 2015
YAY! Glad you liked it!