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25 Versatile & Nutritious Lentil Recipes

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Lentils are a mighty source of plant-protein and a game changer in vegan cooking. Here are 25 versatile & nutritious lentil recipes that I know you’ll love!

Early in the pandemic last spring, I polled readers on Instagram stories about what type of recipes they’d most like to see on the blog. I wanted to know what would be practical and comforting, the two qualities that seemed to matter most to everyone.

I wasn’t surprised that there was interest in shelf-stable foods. Beans and grains were getting lots of attention, thanks to their practicality for shelter-in-place living. Still, I was shocked at how many people wanted lentil recipes! Lentils were all the rage.

Looking back, I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Lentils have all of the shelf-stable convenience and good nutrition of beans. But they’re quicker cooking than beans are, and they don’t require any overnight soaking. They’re inexpensive, nourishing, and easy to cook with.

One year later, the end of quarantine is on the horizon. But I cherished lentils before the pandemic, and I love them every bit as much now. They’re one of my favorite ways to nutrition to my plant-based recipes.

Lentil nutrition

Lentils are an excellent source of so many essential nutrients. This includes B vitamins, zinc, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

Half a cup of lentils contains about eight grams of fiber, which is beneficial for digestive health and can also help to support cardiac health.

Best of all, lentils are packed with plant protein. Protein adequacy within a vegan diet is one of the pillars of my practice as a registered dietitian, and it’s also the focus of Power Plates. I’ve seen time and time again how essential adequate protein is to longterm success with veganism, and I’m always looking to give my clients new recipe and meal ideas that maximize plant protein.

That same half cup serving of cooked lentils provides about ten grams of protein. That’s an excellent amount from one single ingredient within a meal. In many of the recipes I share below, lentils are joined by other protein-rich ingredients for even more nutrient density.

25 versatile & nutritious lentil recipes

I cook with lentils so often, and have made so many recipes with them, that it’s hard to pick even twenty-five of my favorites! But here they are, including a lentil walnut pate that’s one of my favorite, go-to snacks.

French Lentil Niçoise Salad

This French lentil Niçoise salad is a delightful vegan spin on the classic recipe! Marinated French lentils serve as a protein source in place of eggs or tuna. The salad is bursting with flavor and texture, and it's perfect for sharing.
A round, white salad bowl has been filled with the colorful ingredients for a vegan Niçoise salad, including tomatoes, lentils, potatoes, and green beans.

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Lentil Tomato Pasta Stew

This one-pot, plant-based lentil tomato pasta stew is so cozy, hearty, and comforting! It's also packed with nutrition from vegetables and legumes. Easy to make gluten free!
A round bowl of vegan lentil tomato pasta stew is accompanied by pinch bowls of herbs and plant-based parmesan cheese.

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Lentil Beet Salad

This vegan lentil beet salad is colorful, hearty, and so nutrient-dense! A lovely salad on its own, and even better with (or on) a slice of toast.
A vibrant, colorful bowl of a vegan lentil beet salad.

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Cumin Spiced Lentils and Rice with Every Day Lemon Tahini Dressing

This skillet meal of cumin-spiced lentils & rice couldn't be easier to make! It's flavorful, nutritious, and plant-based.
A round, white plate is covered with cumin-spiced lentils & rice, a serving fork, and a drizzle of pale-colored tahini sauce.

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Oh-So-Simple French Lentil Soup

This super simple French lentil soup is a perfect meal for a cold winter's night: hearty, nourishing, and incredibly easy to make!

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Lentil Tomato Pasta Stew

This one-pot, plant-based lentil tomato pasta stew is so cozy, hearty, and comforting! It's also packed with nutrition from vegetables and legumes. Easy to make gluten free!
A round bowl of vegan lentil tomato pasta stew is accompanied by pinch bowls of herbs and plant-based parmesan cheese.

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Lentil Sweet Potato Salad

This mustardy lentil sweet potato salad can be eaten on its own, on toast, or with crackers! It's a super flavorful, nutritious plant-based spread that's perfect for meal prep.
A white ramekin has been filled with a lentil sweet potato salad and is accompanied by crackers.

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Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils (& Bowls)

These coconut curried green lentils are nutritious, easy to make, and they feed a crowd! They'll give you a whole week's worth of flavorful, hearty vegan bowls.

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Slow Cooker Masala Lentils (gluten free, soy free)

Slow cooker masala lentils are one of my favorite make-ahead lentil recipes! Serve them with rice, flatbread, or your favorite leafy greens for a nutritious vegan meal. Designed for the slow cooker, but with a stovetop option.
Two white, ceramic bowls hold dishes of masala spiced lentils and cooked brown rice.

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Creamy Tomato Coconut Red Lentils

Creamy tomato coconut red lentils are the perfect healthful comfort food! Made with coconut milk, sweet potato, and lots of spices, they're both hearty and flavorful. Scoop them up with flatbread or pile them on your favorite grain for a complete meal.

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Braised Lentils on Toast

Braised lentils on toast is one of my all-time favorite, easy vegan dinners. Thanks to red wine and lots of herbs, the lentils taste sophisticated—but they're really simple to make.
An overhead shot of red wine braised lentils on toast, served with greens and tomato.

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Stewed Eggplant Tomato Lentils

A savory, Mediterranean inspired eggplant, tomato, and lentil dish to celebrate the flavors and fresh produce of summer.
An image of stewed eggplant tomato lentils with fresh parsley on top.

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Red Lentil Chickpea Loaf with Mushroom Gravy

This red lentil chickpea loaf is a nourishing, plant-based spin on the classic, beloved comfort food meal: meatloaf! It's made with red lentils, chickpeas, and a fast, flavorful mushroom gravy.

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French Lentil Niçoise Salad

This French lentil Niçoise salad is a delightful vegan spin on the classic recipe! Marinated French lentils serve as a protein source in place of eggs or tuna. The salad is bursting with flavor and texture, and it's perfect for sharing.
A round, white salad bowl has been filled with the colorful ingredients for a vegan Niçoise salad, including tomatoes, lentils, potatoes, and green beans.

Get the recipe

Wholesome Vegan Lentil, Mushroom & Kale Lasagna

This wholesome vegan lentil kale mushroom lasagna is a non-traditional spin on classic comfort food! It's packed with nutritious legumes, vegetables, and leafy greens. It makes for a filling and complete meal, and it's easy to make ahead.

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One Pot Italian Quinoa and Lentils

Italian quinoa and lentils is a one-pot vegan meal that's as tasty as it is nutritious! Made with protein-rich quinoa, lentils, and greens. It's seasoned with herbs that are common in Italian cuisine and made creamy with dairy-free cashew cream.

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Slow Cooker Chipotle Lentils

Slow cooker chipotle lentils are your new go-to vegan protein for burritos, tacos, nachos, and more! An easy, set-it-and-forget-it slow cooker recipe that also includes stovetop instructions.

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Vegan Sweet Potato and Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Vegan sweet potato lentil shepherd's pie is the perfect hearty and wholesome main dish for your holiday table. It's an untraditional version of the classic dish, made with layers of herbed lentils and pillowy mashed sweet potatoes. This recipe is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser!
A small, rectangular baking dish is filled with a vegan sweet potato lentil shepherds pie.

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Butternut Squash, Kale & Lentil Soup with Herbs

This butternut kale lentil soup with herbs is so warming and nourishing! It's a perfect vegan soup for fall and winter—or any time you're craving something wholesome and grounding.
Two bowls of butternut kale lentil soup are laid on a white surface. A piece of toast rests nearby.

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Slow Cooker Two Lentil Chili

This slow cooker two lentil chili will give you nearly a week's worth of flavorful, healthy, hearty dinners. It's a great recipe for batch cooking! Serve it with avocado, rice, cornbread, and any of your other favorite fixings.

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Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

These spice roasted carrot lentil tacos are a hearty, wholesome vegan meal! You won't miss the meat with these nutritious fillings.
Three vegan roasted carrot lentil tacos with avocado slices.

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Curried Butternut, Red Lentil, and Apple Soup

This curried butternut lentil apple soup is a perfect balance of sweet and savory. Hearty, healthy, and easy to make! It's a perfect soup for fall.
A small bowl of golden curried butternut squash and lentil soup is topped with a swirl of olive oil and accompanied by fresh bread.

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Rice, Lentils, and Currants

These vegan cabbage rolls are stuffed with a mixture of rice, lentils, currants, and spices. They're flavorful, filling, and a perfect dish to make for entertaining!
Two stuffed cabbage rolls are laid out, side by side, on a plate. One has been cut into and the filling is spilling out.

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Lentil and Sweet Potato Loaf

Vegan lentil sweet potato loaf is healthy comfort food at its finest. It's made with nutritious lentils, sweet potato, and rolled oats. This is a great dish to freezer or make ahead for holiday gatherings!
Lentil and Sweet Potato Loaf | The Full Helping

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And finally, my lentil walnut pate!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this versatile dip/spread. It was a meal prep staple for me in grad school, because I could use it in so many ways: on sandwiches or wraps, as a snack, on toast for breakfast in the morning, and so on.

I’ve served the pate to many, many friends over the years as well. It’s a great hors d’oeuvre, and it’s really good on vegan crostini.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry brown or green lentils (or 1 14.5-ounce can lentils, drained)
  • 3/4 cup raw walnut halves or pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (substitute 2 tablespoons vegetable broth)
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme or rosemary)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 tablespoon white miso (substitute additional 1/4 teaspoon salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the lentils in a medium sized sauce pan. Fill the pan with enough water to submerge the lentils by a few inches. Bring the water to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25, or until the lentils are tender but not watery or mushy (I always do a first check at the 18-minute mark). Drain the lentils and set them aside.
  • While the lentils cook, heat a medium sized sauté pan over low heat. Add the walnuts. Toast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until they're lightly browned and smell nutty. Remove the walnuts from heat and set aside.
  • Return the pan to the stovetop and increase the heat to medium. Add the olive oil and shallots. Cook the shallots for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, and then add the garlic. Cook the garlic and shallots for another 3 minutes, or until everything is soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and combine ingredients well. Remove the pan from heat.
  • When the lentils are cooked and drained, add the toasted walnuts to your food processor, along with the salt. Process until the walnuts form a fine meal. Add the lentil mixture and all other ingredients, along with 1/3-1/2 cup water (as much as you need to get a thick, yet smooth and spreadable consistency, similar to hummus). Process the pate till smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl down. Serve the pate with toast, crackers, or vegetable crudités.

Notes

Leftover dip will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Brown food really is the tastiest—and so often the most nutritious, too. Enjoy these many lentil-filled recipes, friends!

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