The holidays can be a challenging time to be a vegan, especially when other people are the ones hosting the festivities. Over the years, I’ve become quite accustomed to making a full meal out of side dishes. Luckily, the holiday gatherings I attend welcome me to bring a vegan dish to share. Nothing against green beans, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, but I love to switch it up by adding new, nontraditional recipes into my holiday rotation each year. This Black Lentil Pomegranate Salad is a new favorite of mine that will definitely be making an appearance on my Thanksgiving table.
The Beauty of Black Lentils
Black lentils, also known as beluga lentils due to their resemblance to beluga caviar, are a fabulous legume perfect for use in hearty salads such as this. They have a deliciously earthy flavor. Unlike larger beans, lentils don’t require presoaking and have a quick cooking time. Likewise, they retain their shape when cooked, which gives you some substance to sink your teeth into. Lentils are also a great source of protein. Indeed, a 1 cup serving provides 12 grams of protein, a fun fact which you can mention to all of your well-meaning relatives wondering how you get enough protein as a vegan!
In my opinion, there is no other fruit quite as festive as the pomegranate. Underneath a hard and glossy red rind lies a plethora of jewel-like seeds, but first you have to get to them! It seems like there are a million different tricks to easily open pomegranates, but you can find a very helpful and thorough tutorial here. Although they can be time consuming to prepare, pomegranate seeds, also known as arils, are absolutely worth the effort. The rich flavor of the seeds are a lovely combination of sour and sweet. Additionally, the seeds provide a bright, juicy crunch when bitten into. An excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants, this autumnal fruit has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve digestion. Here, their juicy tartness pairs well with the earthiness of lentils and tahini.
A Festive Holiday Side Dish
This Black Lentil Pomegranate Salad has all the makings of a wonderfully festive dish. The base of black lentils is slathered in a creamy lemon tahini dressing, and is a perfect counterpoint to tart, juicy pomegranate seeds. The salad is finished off with crunchy toasted walnuts and a vibrant sprinkling of parsley. Hearty, flavorful, and fresh, this vegan side dish will make a beautiful addition to your holiday table.
Though they can be time consuming to prepare, pomegranate seeds, also known as arils, are an absolute treat to eat. An excellent source of vitamin C and antioxidants, this autumnal fruit has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and can improve digestion. Here, their juicy tartness pairs well with the earthiness of lentils and tahini.
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups dried beluga lentils, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
- Seeds from 3 medium pomegranates, about 2 to 3 cups
- In a medium pot, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. When oil begins to shimmer, add shallot and garlic and and stir until fragrant and golden, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Add water and lentils and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook over low heat until tender but still firm, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat, drain any excess water if necessary, and spread out on a sheet pan to cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and tahini until well combined and creamy. Slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup of the olive oil, whisking constantly until dressing is smooth and emulsified. Add salt and stir to incorporate.
- Add cooled lentils to a large bowl with dressing, walnuts, and parsley. Toss well to incorporate and to coat all the ingredients with dressing. Add the pomegranate seeds and gently stir to combine.