Warm Lentil Salad with Burrata.
Baby crispy green leaf lettuce topped with warm black lentils, Italian seasoned tomatoes, creamy burrata and a balsamic vinaigrette, then sprinkled with toasted seasoned panko crumbs. Say goodbye to boring salads. It’s time to beat salad boredom with this extraordinary salad that’s quick and simple enough to have as a regular feature in your lunchtime routine.
Thanks to my friends at Little Leaf Farms for sponsoring this post and thanks to you, my readers, for supporting brands that help keep My Cape Cod Kitchen running. As always, all opinions are my own.
I love salads year-round and eat them pretty much every weekday. You too? In the heat of summer, I am absolutely fine with a salad made of 100% cold ingredients – crisp veggies, cool beans/grains/cheeses, etc. Winter salads though, have to have warm components, or else I spend the afternoon shivering and wrapped in a blanket, drinking hot tea (same thing happens with smoothies in the wintertime! love them, but afterwards suffer the chilled-to-the-bone consequences).
Often the warm ingredients are leftovers from the night before (grilled salmon, roasted veggies, pan-fried tofu), that I’ve heated up and thrown on top of greens. Sometimes I’m heating up something that I’ve made for a recipe shoot that morning, and again, I’ll put it atop my greens. And then, other times, I’ll quickly whip up a great salad from “scratch” and make something like this Warm Lentil Salad with Burrata.
This salad is packed with warm (lentils, tomatoes, toasted panko crumbs) and cool (lettuce, burrata) components for a hearty winter salad that won’t leave you chilled. Plus, it’s full of all sorts of textures (crispy lettuce, creamy burrata, crunchy panko crumbs, smooth lentils, etc.) and flavors.
And, it’s packed with satiating fiber, plant-powered protein and healthy fats to keep your energy up and your brain power going until dinnertime (fuel for body + mind!). This is a very satisfying and insanely delicious lunch time salad.
No boring salads here, my friends!
Let’s talk about a few of the salad’s components:
Why black lentils?
- There’s no soaking required! One of the things I love about lentils, is that unlike dried beans, they require no soaking. You do, however, need to sort and wash the lentils. I, many times, have not sorted well enough and have bitten into a rock that I didn’t sort out. Lesson learned!
- They cook quickly. These black beluga lentils cook in 15-20 minutes on the stovetop. And unlike other types of lentils (red, green, etc.), these black lentils keep their shape and firmness and don’t become mushy (unless you overcook them). So, they are perfect for salads, because they keep their chewy texture.
- They’re inexpensive. Find them with the dried beans at your local grocer.
- They’re shelf stable, so we always have them in the pantry for quick meals.
- They’re packed with plant-protein and fiber.
- They’re pretty. They almost look like caviar, don’t they? The kids call them baby black beans. They think these lentils have been made just for them. 🙂
- You can make a big batch at the beginning of the week and use them throughout the week. They make great additions to any salad, soup, tacos, you name it.
Why Little Leaf Farms Lettuce?
- We started buying this lettuce about a year ago during one of the major romaine recalls. I was pretty much fed up with being worried about my little ones getting sick from eating produce. But, I wasn’t about to give up our leafy green consumption and lunchtime salads just yet. I discovered the crispy Little Leaf Farms lettuces and never turned back. The lettuce is never handled by people and there’s no soil, so the risk of contamination is eliminated.
- Little Leaf Farms is locally greenhouse grown in Devens, MA, year-round! You can find it throughout New England. Use their store finder to see which stores near you carry their products.
- They only ship to stores within a day’s drive. This assures you are getting fresh, crispy greens 100% of the time. We love the freshness and the mild flavor.
- They grow hydroponically to protect topsoil and use 100% captured rainwater to grow their lettuce.
DYK over 98% of all U.S. lettuce is grown and processed in California and Arizona and then trucked throughout the country? Little Leaf Farms is changing that.
- What is burrata? It’s basically cream-filled mozzarella and it’s a dream. If you haven’t had it, let this be your chance to start. Find it in the specialty cheese section of your local grocer.
- It adds richness, creaminess and that WOW factor to any dish. We especially like it paired with tomatoes. Save this Creamy Burrata with Tomatoes and Pesto appetizer for the summer – do it, you’ll thank me later.
- Gosh we love this stuff.
Can’t find burrata? You can use fresh mozzarella for this salad. Look for those little pearl size mozzarella balls.
Why toasted panko crumbs?
- What are panko crumbs? They are a Japanese-style bread crumb made from crust-less bread. They make a lighter, airier and crisper crumb. When you’re breading and frying or pan-frying things, they absorb less oil than regular breadcrumbs.
- Crunch! Did we mention we need crunch in our salads? 😉
- Flavor – there’s enough seasoning in the bread crumbs to elevate this salad just a bit more.
- IMO, toasted bread crumbs are one of the best things you can put atop any dish.
Note: If you’re packing this salad up for the office, package the components separately, so you can heat up the lentils and tomatoes prior to adding to the lettuce and burrata and drizzling with vinaigrette. And, you’ll have to have the panko crumbs cool (or sub crushed seasoned croutons).
Here’s how to make this Warm Lentil Salad with Burrata:
Warm Lentil Salad with Burrata
- 1/2 cup black beluga lentils picked over and rinsed well
- 1/2 cup organic panko crumbs or sub crushed organic italian seasoned croutons
- 1/2 teaspoon organic italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon organic garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon organic extra virgin olive oil
- 1 4-ounce container Little Leaf Farms baby crispy green leaf lettuce
- 1 14.5-ounce can organic diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano (italian seasoned) drained, not rinsed, warmed (do this in the microwave or on the stove-top)
- 1 8-ounce container burrata containing 4 2-ounce burrata minis
- 2 tablespoons washed and chopped fresh organic parsley optional
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons organic balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Organic whole grain baguette slices, toasted and brushed with extra virgin olive oil or your favorite organic whole grain rolls
- Place 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Once water is boiling, add lentils. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook lentils until tender, but still firm (not mushy), about 15-20 minutes. Drain.
- Combine panko crumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Mix to combine. In a saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add panko crumb mixture. Lightly toast panko crumbs, stirring often with a spatula. Crumbs will brown quickly – this should take less than a minute. Remove from heat.
- Add vinaigrette ingredients to a mason jar with a lid. Shake well.
- Divide lettuce among 4 medium bowls or plates. Top with warm black lentils and tomatoes. Place one burrata ball atop each salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Top with warm panko crumbs and sprinkle with parsley. Serve.
- If you’re making this recipe in the summer, by all means, use your garden tomatoes or locally grown tomatoes. Or, even better, roast those tomatoes with garlic and olive oil, then use in this salad.
- If you want to serve this salad as a dinner salad, it would be great with baked cod, roasted salmon or baked chicken.
Running short on time? Use these salad shortcuts:
- Use organic canned black beans (drained and rinsed).
- Use a bottled balsamic dressing.
- Skip the panko crumb topper and use crushed organic croutons.