Easy dinner recipes: Great lentil, quinoa, rice salads in under an hour

Easy dinner recipes: Great lentil, quinoa, rice salads in under an hour
Recipe: Quinoa and kale salad (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Love a filling salad? From lentil, to quinoa and cool rice, these rich salad options come together quickly. Best of all? They can be made ahead of time, the flavors improving as the salad has a chance to sit.

Quinoa and kale salad: Dark green julienned strips of kale are tossed with nutty quinoa and sunflower seeds, colorful bell pepper and red grapes, then dressed with a bright Champagne vinaigrette. Parmigiano and manchego cheese lend a subtle richness, while the preserved lemon strips add a salty tang.


Cool rice and cucumber salad: When we want to bring out the best in rice, cook it like pasta in a big pot of water. As Food columnist Russ Parsons notes, this makes for grains that are light and separate, not sticking or clumped together. For a refreshing salad idea, toss the cooled grains with cucumber and a bright, tangy dressing. The dish can be made ahead of time and chilled until ready to serve.

Quinoa lentil salad with tomatoes: Nutty quinoa, French lentils, fresh mint and parsley, a little garlic and some bright tomatoes make for a perfect summer salad, whether you're looking for a light main course or flexible side dish. (And if you don't tell, your guests probably won't even suspect that it's vegetarian.) You can find the recipe below.


Total time: 50 minutes, plus cooling and chilling times | Serves 6

1 cup French green or brown lentils, sorted and rinsed

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar, plus more for drizzling

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and strained

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 cup fresh parsley

2 cups cherry or other little tomatoes, halved

1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan and fill with water to cover by 2 inches. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes, then drain the lentils and transfer them to a medium bowl. Season the lentils with one-fourth teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper and drizzle over about 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Taste the lentils, and adjust the seasoning or vinegar, or both, if desired. Set aside the lentils to cool, stirring occasionally.


2. In a large saucepan, combine the rinsed quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cooking until the grain is soft and translucent, about 15 to 20 minutes. The water should be absorbed; if not entirely absorbed, drain any excess. Remove from heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of oil on the grain and stir gently.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, one-fourth cup vinegar, one-half cup olive oil, one-fourth teaspoon salt and one-eighth teaspoon pepper. Taste and add additional seasoning if desired.

4. Stir the cooled lentils in with the quinoa in the large bowl. Stir in the dressing, then cover and chill the salad for at least 1 hour.

5. Just before serving, stir in the mint, parsley and tomatoes and check the seasoning. Drizzle with a bit more vinegar and oil.

Each serving: 387 calories; 13 grams protein; 40 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 202 mg. sodium.

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