winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

I must make a confession, I’m not the best at naming recipes and at times, I struggle with what to call some of my recipes. Since most of the dishes I create and share are often not traditionally Indian and in some way are inspired by my environment and emotions, it’s can get difficult. I don’t like to name my dishes as “Indian ___” as it sounds odd. Those kind of names bug me as much as as I hear the word “chai ___” but when you go through the recipe there is no chai (tea) present. If I called this salad dressing as Indian spicy cilantro dressing, I’d be uncomfortable. I call this my “noun-adjective paradox” because it can .  So I usually defer to the much more simpler method of labeling my dishes with the prominent ingredients I use in them, I did it this time too. This delicious salad dressing today had me up for hours, wondering whether I should call it an Indian-inspired dressing or an Indian green goddess dressing. Whatever it might be called, this is one tasty and spicy green salad dressing to enjoy!

One of the best things I’ve finally tasted in 2016, is the pink lady apple. I’d heard of them before but never eaten one until recently. These ladies are a game changer, a life changer, they look good and they taste good. Their texture is crisp enough to dump it into a salad and if you slice them thin enough, it gives you just the right amount of sweetness and crispy texture to each bite you consume. Overall this salad is pretty “wintry”, I put purple/red and regular good old green curly kale leaves, some cooked black lentils, avocado (not so winter) and the lady apples. It’s a hearty salad and the dressing is very, very guilt free. I use Califia’s unsweetened almond milk to make the base of the dressing, fresh cilantro leaves for flavor and color, add lime juice for acidity and fresh thai chilis and ginger for a kick. But to make it thick and give it body, this dressing needs some fat and plain almond butter does the trick here making it creamy enough to hold.

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this salad,

  • Any type of kale will work here, just shred it well and toss the midrib out. 
  • If you can’t find lady apples use Granny smith apples the tartness works well.
  • If you cut the apples and don’t want them to brown. Soak them in an ice cold water bath with 2 tablespoons of fresh lime or lemon juice. Drain the slices before you add them to the salad.
  • I like to presoak my lentils as it does make them cook faster when it comes to boiling. 

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing | A Brown Table

winter black lentil salad with spicy cilantro dressing

yields: 4 servings


for the salad

1 cup cooked black lentils

4 cups shredded kale leaves (I used a mix red and green varieties)

1 large avocado, diced

1/2 cup red onion, diced

1 pink lady apple, thinly sliced

1/4 cup pepitas, toasted

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Place all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. And toss to combine. Keep aside refrigerated until ready to serve with the salad dressing. Salad dressing can be added and tossed with salad or served on the side . 

spicy cilantro dressing

yields: about 1 1/2 cups


1 cup Califia unsweetened almond milk

4 tablespoons almond butter, unsweetened

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

1 cup packed cilantro leaves

4 tablespoons lime juice, fresh

6 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon thai chili peppers, chopped

1 teaspoon fine grain salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Serve with the winter salad. 



Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms but all opinions expressed are solely my own.

7 Responses

  1. DUUUUUDE. This salad is calling my name. I love lentils and Pink Lady apples and CALIFIA FARMS ALMONDMILK. Also, I think your serving count is off – this will definitely only feed one Ashlae.

  2. i have not tried pink lady apples but sounds pretty good..this is an ideal lunch salad that i can take to work.

  3. Nik, this is a really gorgeous recipe. As always, love the photos. I’m going to try to make this sans almond milk (becuase of my sad allergies) but the flavors look irresistible. (PS totally get the naming thing – I always cringe when I see Asian-inspired _ and it is usually just sesame and ginger….. and also, laughed out loud about the chai comment :P).

  4. I’ve given up on coming up with fun names and usually just call things as they are (and then a few months later realize I’d actually made something with some kind of funky name). This salad has all the right flavors and textures. We’re eating a lot of cilantro here in Mexico, so when I get home, I’ll be ready to go with making a big batch of this.

  5. I love this dressing recipe and can’t wait to try it! I love cilantro dressing in general but the idea adding ginger is exciting. I’m definitely trying this.

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