Lentil and Quinoa Chopped Salad: A delicious and hearty chopped salad loaded with lentils, quinoa, a white wine dressing, and spiced candied cashews. Great for a hearty lunch or dinner!
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Super Protein Chopped Salad

My trouble with work lunches goes back to the beginning of my working days out of college. I found it really hard to feel good about my lunches. They were either healthy and boring or delicious and nap-inducing.

This has changed a bit since I work from home. To be honest, most days I eat leftovers, but I’m still constantly on the search for a perfect lunch salad.

Part of the problem is I hesitate to label anything perfect or, god forbid, “best EVER”, but this really is a salad that can answer many lunch issues.

It has a lot to love: It’s relatively light, but has filling elements like crunchy candied nuts, lots of protein and good fats, and a super simple dressing. It doesn’t even really need to be refrigerated for the morning.

I’ve been eating it for lunch this week and have really looked forward to it every day!

Yield
Serves 6-8.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Yum

Lentil and Quinoa Chopped Salad

Quinoa Chopped Salad tossed with French lentils, a light, dressing, and filling toppings including spiced candied cashews. Perfect for a hearty lunch!

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa
1 cup French lentils
2 medium carrots, shredded
5 ounces baby kale
Avocado, for serving
Hard boiled egg, for serving

White Wine Binaigrette:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice only
1 Tbsp. honey
Pinch of salt

Candied Cashews:

2 cups unroasted, unsalted cashews
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
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Directions

1) For dressing, combine ingredients in a bowl and whisk together or shake in a dressing container.

2) For candied cashews, stir together water, sugar, and cashews in a medium pot. Heat over medium heat until simmering. Continue to simmer, stirring regularly until the liquid turns thick like syrup, about 10 minutes. Then add salt, cinnamon, and cayenne, and continue to stir vigorously.

When the syrup is really sticking to the nuts (maybe 15 minutes of total cooking) spread them out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let cool.

3) Cook lentils and quinoa according to package. I recommend rinsing both and simmering in large pots until they are just cooked through. For quinoa, I usually do 2 cups water per cup of quinoa. For lentils do 4 cups water per cup of lentils. The quinoa will need about 15 minutes to cook, slightly covered. The lentils will need closer to 25 minutes.

For quinoa, drain, cover, and let steam for a few minutes. Then fluff with a fork and let cool.

For lentils, drain, rinse with cold water, and let dry slightly.

4) For salad, combine kale and grated carrots in a large bowl. Toss with cooled quinoa and lentils.

Serve individual bowls with dressing drizzled on top and topped with avocado, hard-boiled eggs, and candied cashews.

Quinoa Chopped Salad

I called this a chopped salad because it has some chopped things, but it’s also a grain salad, an egg salad, and a kale salad. It’s many different things chopped together I guess?

Who knows… it’s good though and it all starts with lentils and quinoa.

I wasn’t sure about putting both of these in one salad, but it’s actually a nice mix. You could use just one or the other but you’d miss out on some subtle texture differences.

For the lentils I like French lentils which are a bit sturdier than their yellow cousins.

Lentil Chopped salad.

Lentil business.

Rinse off the lentils and simmer them in water (about 4 cups water to 1 cup lentils) until they are tender. They will need to simmer for about 20-25 minutes. You can just taste one occasionally until they are tender.

When they are done, rinse them with cold water and set them aside.

Lentils cooked for chopped salad.

Cooked and rinsed!

Cooking Quinoa

Most people overcook quinoa. It’s easy to do because the seeds are so delicate. The way to nail it is to rinse the quinoa with cold water, then add them to a pot of simmering water (2 cups to 1 cup quinoa). Cook these, lightly covered, until they are tender. It’ll take about 15 minutes and you’ll start to see the little quinoa tails come out.

When that happens, drain out any extra water in the pot. Then cover them, remove them from the heat, and let them steam for 5 minutes.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork and it’ll be perfect!

Quinoa for chopped salad.

Quinoa!

Talking Dressing

This is about as easy as a dressing can get. Just whisk together some vinegar, lemon, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt in a bowl!

Dressing for salad.

Dressing basics.

You can also just shake it together in a little dressing shaker!

Dressing for salad.

Love that color!

Candied Cashews

These might be the highlight of the salad and while they are bit of work, skip them at your own salad peril!

To make them stir together the sugar, water, and cashews in a pot. Bring it to a simmer.

Making cashews for chopped salad.

Cashew start.

When the mix has simmered for about 10 minutes, the syrup will start to thicken nicely. Then you can add the salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. If you add those too early, they might just burn.

Let the mixture cook together for a few more minutes until the syrup is really sticking to the nuts. This is getting very close.

Candied cashews.

Cooked down.

Then spread the nuts out on some parchment paper and let them cool! These will be so crunchy and delicious when they are done!

Cashews done.

Cool it down.

Finishing the Salad

Now it’s just a matter of tossing everything together!

Add the baby kale to a bowl with the grated carrots and toss in the lentils and quinoa. It’s important that they are cool or they will cook the kale.

Chopped mixed salad.

Mixing salad.

Mix it all together and that’s the salad base. Then for each bowl you can pile on toppings like sliced avocado and hard boiled eggs.

Chopped salad.

YUM.

It’s a really filling salad and is great as a dinner side salad also. I would maybe leave off the egg and avocado if you are having it with an entree or something!

Lentil and Quinoa Chopped Salad: A delicious and hearty chopped salad loaded with lentils, quinoa, a white wine dressing, and spiced candied cashews. Great for a hearty lunch or dinner!

 

7 comments on “Super Protein Chopped Salad

  1. Hi Nick, looks great! I will have to get some fresh kale from the farmer’s market this weekend and try it out.

  2. This is an AWESOME looking salad! Thanks Nick! I am always struggling to find a delicious lunch option that is filling, delicious, and healthy (is that really too much to ask?!) Can’t wait to try this! Will be prepping it over the weekend :)

  3. Hi there! If I’m planning to bring this to work all week, do you recommend just adding the dressing each day as needed? Or does the kale hold up for a few days?

    1. Hey Carolyn!
      If you are planning on taking it for many days, I would dress it each day. It will hold up for a day or two, but it’s best if the veggies stay separate from the dressing. You could definitely dress it in the morning though and it would be fine by lunch! Hope you like it!

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