This quick and easy Beluga Lentil Salad recipe is made with salty, chewy halloumi croutons to take it to the next level. Make it with black lentils, Puy lentils, or French green lentils, this is a healthy lentil salad recipe you'll come back to again and again.
I had an epiphany about my relationship with salads recently. Are you ready for this?
I don't like side salads.
I like eating vegetables (I like eating vegetables a LOT) and I like eating big, substantial meal salads, but put a side salad on my plate and I'll likely just push it to the side.
Maybe it's because most side salads are just sad, sparse plates of leaves and a few other things with a bit of dressing, and I'd prefer something I can sink my teeth into. Give me a big plate of Kale Caesar Salad and I'm in heaven.
Hit me up with a Vegetarian Nicoise Salad, and I'll gobble that thing right up. Make me a tasty AF Beluga Lentil Salad with chewy, salty halloumi croutons and I'll be your best friend forever. FOREVER.
Are you ready for this?
What's in this lentil salad?
First up, you're going to need some lentils. I love using beluga lentils in this salad because they hold their shape well when cooked, but if you can't find any black lentils you can totally use Puy lentils or small green lentils in their place.
We're going to gently cook the lentils with a bunch of aromatics, and then gently season them for the salad. For the lentil component you'll need:
- Beluga lentils --> or another type of small, firm lentils.
- Onion --> half a yellow onion will do.
- Garlic --> A nice fat clove is what we want here.
- Bay leaves --> For layers of flavour.
- Salt and pepper --> As we do.
- Red wine vinegar --> This will provide some punch.
- Olive oil --> To smooth things out.
And now for the rest of the salad. Here's what you'll need:
- Greens --> I like to use peppery arugula (also known as rocket) here, but you do you.
- Tomatoes --> Baby plum tomatoes sliced in half is how we're rolling.
- Halloumi --> We're going to cube it, fry it, and sprinkle it on top.
- Capers --> For a little somethin' somethin'.
- Olive oil --> For drizzling on top.
Let's start by cooking the lentils!
A delicious black lentil salad starts with perfectly cooked lentils. Here's what you do.
Step 1: Rinse the lentils and give them a good comb through to make sure there aren't any small stones in there.
Place them into a saucepan with half an onion (keep the root intact so it holds together), a smashed garlic clove, and a couple of bay leaves.
Step 2: Cover the lentils with water. Place over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil.
Then, reduce the heat to medium-low, place a lid on the pot but keep it ajar, and cook the lentils on a very gentle simmer. This will take about 20 minutes.
Please watch the lentils very carefully towards the end. We want them to be just barely cooked, even a tad al dente, to ensure they'll be perfect when they go into the salad.
Step 3: Drain any excess water from the lentils, then remove the onion, garlic, and bay leaves from the pot
Step 4: Add the red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well, then set the lentils aside to cool while you prepare the other ingredients.
Step 5: Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of olive oil to the pan, and then add the cubes of halloumi. You'll want to turn them over once or twice as they cook; we're aiming for a nice golden brown.
Related: How to Cook Halloumi.
Once the lentils have cooled slightly and the halloumi is done, you're ready to assemble your salads!
This Beluga Lentil Salad is one of those recipes that I like to serve in components so that people can build their own plates, but it's equally good made as a platter salad, or pre-plated on individual plates.
To serve, start with a bed of greens (arugula in this case), then spoon some of the lentils over top. Add tomatoes, halloumi croutons, and capers. Lastly, drizzle with a bit of good-quality olive oil, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Look at you, you fancy!
Can I make this lentil salad in advance?
You can most definitely cook the lentils in advance. In fact, I strongly urge you to do so. They're great served cold and will last for several days in the fridge.
The halloumi is best fried just before serving for that perfect salty, squeaky, chewy texture, but leftover fried halloumi is pretty darn tasty too.
Can I make a vegan lentil salad?
For sure you can. You can either just leave the halloumi off, or you can swap it for some tofu feta instead.
Hey Nutrition Lady, what's the deal with halloumi cheese?
Glad you asked, folks! Halloumi is a semi-firm unripened brined cheese from Cyprus made from a mixture of goat, and sheep, and cows milk. It has a high melting point so it can be pan fried or grilled and does not fall apart.
If you can't find Halloumi (check specialty food stores or Greek markets) then cubed and pan fried feta would be a good substitute.
What about beluga lentils?
Beluga lentils are little, round, black, firm lentils. They're called beluga lentils because they look a bit like beluga caviar. If you can't find beluga lentils, another small firm lentil such a Puy lentils would work just fine.
And a note on cooking lentils: it's taken me a while to perfect the art of cooking firm little lentils like these. The trick is a quick boil, a gentle simmer, and a keen eye. They can go from not quite ready to perfect to mush really quickly if you're not careful.
And while mushy lentils are great in some situations (like this lentil loaf) this is not one of them.
Other recipes you might enjoy:
Beluga Lentil Salad with Halloumi Croutons
- 1 cup beluga lentils rinsed well
- ½ medium yellow onion peeled, but root intact
- 1 clove garlic smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 8 oz arugula leaves about 4 cups
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 8 oz halloumi cheese cubed
- 4 tablespoons capers drained well
- your best olive oil and balsamic for drizzling
- freshly ground black pepper
- Check the lentils over for stones and give them a good rinse, then set them in a pot with 1 ½ cups of water, ½ an onion, the smashed garlic clove, and the bay leaf.
- Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer with the lid ajar for about 20 minutes.
- Start checking the lentils at around the 15 min mark and check every few minutes after that. The lentils should be just barely tender, and still slightly toothsome.
- When the lentils are done, fish out the onion, garlic clove, and bay leaf, and drain well.
- Place the lentils in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, and a little salt.
- Stir, then let stand for 5-10 minutes. Give the lentils a taste and decide if you want to use the rest of the oil and vinegar (I usually do).
- Set aside, or refrigerate if you're not making the salad immediately.
- Scatter four salad plates with arugula. Place ¼ of the lentils into the center of each plate, and then drop the cherry tomatoes into place.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Place the cubed halloumi into the pan, and fry, turning often, until they are lightly golden brown.
- Immediately distribute the halloumi croutons amongst the four plates, then top each with 1 tablespoon of capers.
- Drizzle each plate with a small amount of your best olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of freshly ground pepper.
- Serve, and enjoy!
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
Recipe Originally Published February 2013. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated July 27, 2019.