The Lentil & Millet Salad is one of my favorite easy, healthy meals to whip up. It’s a wholesome salad packed with everyday goodness and local produce. We are a salad-loving family and are really happy to have this one on weekly rotation in our house.
As the days get warmer, I find that my cooking becomes lighter and cleaner. I crave fresh, nourishing foods. Foods that don’t sit heavy on the gut, like this hearty summer salad.
I enjoy the challenge of using alternative grains in my salads as opposed to just green leaves. Since I had a bag of mixed millets lying around, I combined it with our favorite masoor chilka/ red lentils to lend the salad some body and buttery texture.
What are the health benefits of millets?
Millets are alkaline and easily digestible. Gluten-free, a rich source of magnesium, high in fiber and protein, they help in lowering cholesterol. They are also very versatile because their flavor is subtle, not overpowering. You can use them in puddings, porridge, upma, dosa, patties, as stuffing for vegetables, and also muffins and cakes.
What are the health benefits of lentils?
Lentils are rich in iron, folate, and magnesium, which promotes heart health. Like millets, they are loaded with dietary fiber and protein. Factor in the complex carbohydrates that release steady, slow-burning energy; they are a genius at improving digestive health. All in all, this is a power-packed bowl of salad that tastes absolutely brilliant!
How to make Lentil & Millet Summer Salad
The salad makes a simple, nutritious and rather surprisingly satisfying meal. Over the years, I’ve learned one fact. You get the best nutritional value out of grains by soaking them.
The longer they soak, the better it is. But even 15 minutes helps. I know it requires some pre-planning, but it is absolutely worth it, and it expedites your cooking time.
Cooking the lentils
- Thoroughly wash and then soak the lentils for an hour or two.
- Cook them in salted water for about 15-20 mins. You want the lentils cooked, not mushy.
- Rinse in cold water and drain well.
Never throw the water you boil lentils in. It’s nutritious, and you create less kitchen waste. Use it as a stock for soup or kneading your regular chapati or bread dough.
Cooking the millet
- Wash and soak the millets. 20 to 30 mins will do the trick.
- And like you would cook rice, boil them.
- Rinse with cold water, drain well and let cool.
The ratio here is 1 cup of millet and 1.5 cups of water. After the water comes to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pan and cook till the millets are fluffy.
In case you’re in a hurry and haven’t soaked the millets, up the amount of water to 2 cups.
Tossing the lentil and millet salad
- In a bowl, add the cooked millets, lentils, along with diced cucumber, carrots, beetroot, and microgreens.
- Toss them with the salad dressing – lemon juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and some sumac whisked together.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- Let the salad rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so for the flavors to develop.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce. Top with sunflower seeds and feta cheese and serve cold!
Substitutes for the salad ingredients
The great thing about the lentil and millet salad is that you can pander to your palate. Even better, use what you have in the fridge, and the salad will taste just as delicious.
- Millets: Quinoa, red rice, couscous, or amaranth grain – all are great options
- Red lentils: try red kidney beans or chickpeas. Or even black-eyed peas. They add the same body and texture to a salad.
- Microgreens: I happen to get my hands on some fresh salad microgreens, but by no means are they essential. Use homemade sprouts instead. Or just leave them out altogether.
- Sumac: A friend sent me the lemony spice, so I decided to flavor the dressing with it. You can simply omit it.
- Apple cider: Regular white vinegar makes just as good a base for the salad dressing. If you don’t have that, too, increase the amount of lemon juice to give it a tangy counterpoint.
- Vegan salad: either skip the feta or use a vegan cheese topping.
If you’re looking for more easy, delicious salads:
- Easy Greek salad
- Apple walnut salad
- Peach mozzarella salad
- Watermelon feta salad
- Apricot & date pasta salad
- Roasted sweet potato & chickpea salad
- Summer pasta salad w/ basil balsamic vinaigrette
- Red rice and mango salad
Lentil & Millet Salad
- 1/2 cup Red Lentils ( Masoor chilka)
- 3/4 cup Millets I used mixed millets – Kodo, Barnyard, Foxtail, Little millet.
- 2 Cucumbers, finely diced
- 2 Carrots, finely diced
- 1 Beetroot Boiled and finely diced
- Salad greens, Microgreens
- 2 lemons Lemon juice
- 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
- 1 tsp Sumac Optional
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Pumpkin seeds, Pine nuts, Feta cheese
- Rinse and soak the lentils for 10/15 mins. Boil them in plenty of water with salt to taste in a saucepan. These should be done in about 15/20 mins. You want the lentils cooked, but not mushy. Rinse in cold water and drain well.
- Rinse and soak millets for 10-15 minutes. Cook the millets like you would cook rice – Use 1.5 cups of water for 1 cup of millets. Do add 1/2 tsp salt to the water.Use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of millets, in case your millets aren't soaked.These should be done in about 15 -20 mins. Fluff up the cooked millets with a fork and let cool.
- In the meanwhile, put all the dressing ingredients in a little bowl and whisk them well.
- In a large bowl, combine the dressing with the salad ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Let the salad rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so, for the flavors to develop.
- Serve on a bed of salad greens. Top with microgreens, Feta cheese, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds.
- Serves 6 generously. Enjoy!