Tomato Lentil Salad with Feta

By Jeri Mobley-Arias
July 10, 2024 | Updated on July 10, 2024

This lentil salad recipe inspired by Trader Joe’s features fresh tomatoes, herbs, and feta tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy this quick and easy dish for a filling, wholesome lunch or dinner.

Want to try other nutritious salad recipes? Try my Kale and White Bean Salad and Tomato Salad with Cilantro-Mint Dressing next.

bowl of lentil salad

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If you thought lentils were only good for soups, this lentil salad would like to have a word. I was inspired to add the legume to salad while on a trip to Trader Joe’s, back when they used to offer in-store tastings. They highlighted a lentil, bruschetta, and feta salad that called for three of their products; two of which were ready-made.

While delicious, I prefer to make my own version of bruschetta then go for the TJs product as it doesn’t contain additives or use canola oil. Mixed with steamed lentils and sheep’s milk feta, my salad is bursting with the sweetness of ripe tomatoes, the earthy taste of lentils, and the creamy, slightly tangy bite of feta.

Why This Recipe Works

  • Good For You – Lentils for salad is an excellent choice. They’re full of fiber, protein, and iron and low in fat so I love them as a meat substitute for vegetarian and vegan meals.
  • Easy to Make – You don’t have to know how to cook lentils for salad because we grab some ready-made from Trader Joe’s. Typically, you’d have to boil them and that alone could take 25 minutes. We make this whole salad in just 20 minutes!
  • Fresh Flavor – This salad includes marinated tomatoes, fresh basil, and salty tomatoes for a fresh pop of flavor in every forkful.
bowl of lentil salad

Tools You’ll Need

Ingredients You Will Need for Lentil Salad

Here is a breakdown of what you will need to make this lentil salad. For actual measurements, see the recipe card at the end of this post.

Tomatoes

  • Cherry tomatoes – Quartered tomatoes add a juicy element to the salad.
  • Quality aged balsamic vinegar – This enhances the taste of the tomatoes, and using aged balsamic lends a rich depth.
  • Quality olive oil – Use this to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar.
  • Cloves garlic – Grate fresh garlic with a microplane for a fine, even distribution of robust garlicky flavor throughout the dressing.
  • Kosher salt This enhances the overall taste of the salad.

Lentil Salad

  • Trader Joe’s steamed lentils – TJ’s steamed lentils are a convenient choice with minimal, simple ingredients and don’t contain additives. These French lentils can be served hot or cold so they’re perfect for this recipe.
  • Sheep’s milk feta – I prefer sheep’s milk feta that is sold by the block. It is flavorful and has a better mouthfeel. I’m not a fan of using crumbled feta because it’s usually too dry.
  • Fresh basil – While optional, chopped herbs amplified the fresh taste of the salad while adding some aromatic flair.
a package of Trader Joe's steamed lentils

How To Make Lentil Salad

Below is a summary of how to make this cold lentil salad. For a complete and detailed list of steps, see the recipe card at the end of this post.

  1. Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in tomatoes then set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavor to marry.
marinated tomatoes in a bowl

2. Add lentils and feta then gentle stir until well-combined. Fold in fresh basil (if using) and enjoy immediately as-is, with sourdough crackers, or crostini.

mixed lentil salad

Tips and Tricks for the Best Lentil Salad

  • Let the tomatoes marinate. After mixing the tomatoes with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt, let them sit for at least 5 minutes. This allows the flavors to meld and enhances the overall taste of the salad.
  • Choose block feta over crumbled. Sheep’s milk feta sold by the block is creamier and more flavorful than pre-crumbled varieties. It adds a rich, tangy element to the salad.
  • Chop basil just before serving. If using fresh basil, chop it right before adding it to the salad to maintain its vibrant color and flavor. Basil can wilt quickly, so adding it last keeps it fresh.
  • Serve immediately or chilled. This salad tastes best when served immediately or slightly chilled. It can be enjoyed on its own or with sourdough crackers or crostini.
lentils, tomatoes, and feta in a mixing bowl

Variations

  • Herbs You can swap basil for mint or parsley to bring a different, refreshing flavor to the salad.
  • Vegetables Feel free to add vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, shallots, olives, kale, or spinach for extra crunch and nutrition.
  • Dressing Instead of balsamic vinegar, you can use a lemon-based dressing for a bright, zesty twist.
  • Quinoa – Adding quinoa to the salad can boost its protein content and make it even more hearty. Quinoa’s mild, nutty flavor, and fluffy texture blend seamlessly with the lentils and vegetables.
  • Lentils Most lentil salad recipes, including this one, use brown lentils, but you can easily substitute them for green, red, or beluga lentils. Green lentils hold their shape well and have a slightly peppery flavor, while red lentils tend to be softer and milder, adding a different texture and taste to the salad.
close up view of a bowl of lentil salad with feta

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to eat lentils every day?

For most people, it is safe to consume lentils daily. In many cultures, the nutritional powerhouse is a staple. However, because it is rich in fiber, it may cause gas or bloating.

What’s the healthiest way to eat lentils?

For a balanced meal, serve lentils with other nutritious ingredients like fresh vegetables and herbs. Keep the fat minimal and add lentils to salads and soups for added nutrients.

What goes well with lentils?

Lentils pair well with a variety of ingredients that enhance their flavor and texture. Fresh tomatoes, herbs like basil or parsley, and creamy feta create a delicious combination. But they also go well with vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, and olives. Toss them in a tangy balsamic or lemon vinaigrette to tie all the flavors together.

mixing bowl full of lentil salad

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bowl of lentil salad with tomatoes, feta, and basil

Tomato Lentil Salad with Feta

This lentil salad recipe inspired by Trader Joe's features fresh tomatoes, herbs, and feta tossed in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette. Enjoy this quick and easy dish for a filling, wholesome lunch or dinner.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Jeri Mobley-Arias
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine Mediterranean

Equipment

  • Mixing bowl
  • Microplane
  • Whisk

Ingredients

Tomatoes

  • 10 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • tablespoons quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • tablespoons quality olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated with microplane
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste, Diamond Crystal

Lentil Salad

  • 2 cups Trader Joe's steamed lentils
  • ounces sheep's milk feta, drained
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, (optional), chopped

Instructions

  • Add balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Stir in tomatoes then set aside for 5 minutes to allow flavor to marry.
  • Add lentils and feta then gentle stir until well-combined. Fold in fresh basil (if using) and enjoy immediately as-is, with sourdough crackers, or crostini.
Keywords best lentil salad recipe, cold lentil salad, cold lentil salad recipes, lentil for salad, lentil salad, lentil salad feta, lentil salad recipe, lentil salad recipes
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bowl of lentil salad with tomatoes, feta, and basil

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jeri-mobley

Hey, I'm Jeri!

At Whisper of Yum, we explore ALL cuisines - comfort foods, classics, elevated originals. If you love food like me, I invite you to settle in to this place, where swoon-worthy food is attainable + inspo for your next meal awaits.

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