Lentil quinoa salad with kale and roasted sweet potato in zesty citrus dressing is a hearty, one-bowl meal that's flavorful and satisfying. This recipe is perfect for meal prep!
The cool thing about lentils and quinoa is that they have pretty similar cooking times, so you can cook them together in a single pot. They're the perfect base for all kinds of meals! You can use the cooking method in this lentil quinoa salad as a jumping-off point to make all kinds of lentil and quinoa recipes.
I love a grain salad at lunchtime, and this one is super satisfying!
To start making this salad, get the lentils and quinoa cooking either on the stovetop or in the Instant pot. The recipe includes both stovetop and Instant Pot directions. You're just doing one or the other -- ignore whichever method you're not using.
Whether you make the lentils and quinoa on the stove or in your Instant Pot, the method is the same. Add the lentils, quinoa, water, and broth to your pot. Cook until the lentils are tender, and you're all set!
This recipe uses green, brown, or beluga lentils. Do not use red lentils or any other type. Other types have different water needs, cooking times, and textures. They will not work in this recipe.
While the lentils cook, get your sweet potatoes into the oven. Just toss the sweet potatoes with a little bit of olive oil and salt, spread them onto a lined baking sheet, and pop them into the oven to roast. No need to stir or flip them!
While you roast the sweet potato in the oven, make the simple citrus dressing in the blender. Then, use a little bit of the dressing to make citrusy massaged kale.
Toss the cooked lentils and quinoa with the sweet potato, kale, dressing, and some chopped green onions. You can serve this salad warm or cold.
How to store and serve
I recommend assembling single-serving salads and keeping them in meal prep containers in the fridge. That way, you have a quick lunch to grab
Your lentil quinoa salad will keep for four days in the fridge. I do not recommend freezing the assembled salad, though you can freeze the lentils and quinoa on their own.
This salad is delicious served warm, right after you make it or chilled, straight out of the fridge. Such a perfect, healthy lunch to have on hand for busy weekdays!
Lentil Quinoa Salad Recipe
For the lentils and quinoa
- 1 cup dry green or brown lentils - rinsed
- 1 cup dry quinoa - rinsed
- 1 ½ - 2 cups water - You'll need the lower amount of water, if you are using the Instant Pot.
- 2 cups vegetable broth - or more water
For the roasted sweet potato
- 2 medium sweet potatoes - chopped into ½" pieces, about 2 cups
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
Citrus dressing ingredients
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup orange juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 small cloves garlic - or 1 large clove
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the salad
- 8 cups kale - stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 green onions - chopped
- Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the lentils and quinoa
- Instant Pot Directions: Add the lentils, quinoa, 1 ½ cups water, and broth. Cook at high pressure for 6 minutes, then do a 10-minute natural release. You may have some water left in the bottom of the pot, and that is fine. Just use a slotted spoon to dish up your lentils and quinoa, leaving any excess water in the pot.
- Stovetop Directions: Combine the rinsed lentils, quinoa, 2 cups water and vegetable broth in a large stovetop pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then decrease the heat a bit to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the lentils and quinoa have absorbed all of the water, uncovered, about 20 minutes. When the lentils and quinoa are tender, remove the pot from heat, cover, and let them steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
Roast the sweet potato
- In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potato with the olive oil and salt. Transfer to the baking sheets in a single layer, and roast for 50-55 minutes, until the sweet potatoes start to brown.
Make the citrus dressing
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to your blender, and puree until smooth.
Assemble the lentil quinoa salad
- In a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the citrus dressing to the kale, and massage until it turns bright green.
- Add the cooked lentils and quinoa, the remaining citrus dressing, the roasted sweet potato, and the chopped green onion. Serve warm or chilled.
- Instant Pot optional
Frequently asked questions
For this recipe, you want lentils that retain their shape after cooking. Green, brown, or beluga lentils will all work. Do not use red or yellow lentils, because they will turn to mush.
I do not recommend freezing, because the kale won't thaw properly.
If you do want to freeze, I recommend just making the lentils and quinoa and freezing those. They will thaw out fine. Then, roast the veggies and make the dressing before assembling.
Definitely! Use two 15-ounce cans of lentils, drained and rinsed. You can also use around 2.5 cups of frozen quinoa, thawed, if you don't want to cook it from scratch.
The beauty of this quinoa lentil salad is that it's great served warm or cold. That makes it perfect for meal prep!