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Rainbow Taco Lentil Salad

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 4 entree salads 1x


I love the rainbow colors and textural contrast of this salad–crunchy and soft, warm and cool, creamy and spicy. A little bit of everything in every bite!



Salad components

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped very small or shredded on a mandoline
  • 1 head romaine lettuce or 2 hearts, chopped small
  • 1/2 lb. yellow cheddar cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 avocado, chopped and tossed with lime juice, to keep from browning
  • Pico de gallo (see notes; or your favorite salsa)
  • Charred corn and red pepper (instructions below)
  • Cilantro lime sour cream (instructions below)
  • Taco spiced lentils

Charred corn and red pepper

  • 1 large red bell pepper (or 2 small), chopped into corn kernel size pieces
  • 1 C frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained of excess liquid

Cilantro lime sour cream

  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 t Kosher salt


Charred corn and red pepper

  1. Heat a dry skillet (preferably cast iron) to medium high. Wait a while—you want it really hot. Add corn and red pepper and spread in an even layer. Allow to cook for a minute or two at a time between stirring, about 10 minutes total, until all the pieces are starting to char and the corn is beginning to hiss and pop. Serve hot or chill until ready to use.

Cilantro lime sour cream

  1. Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use and stir before serving.

Assemble the salad

  1. Set out prepared ingredients separately, family or buffet style. To save a serving bowl, toss the romaine and cabbage together. Before serving, warm the lentils if made in advance. Serve with chips, or start the meal with jalapeno poppers!


The Pioneer Woman has a great post and recipe on pico de gallo.

Charring the red pepper and corn adds deeper flavor and enhanced texture, rather than serving them raw. To make the mixture into a salsa, add some minced jalapeno, garlic, and scallion, and stir in a bit of oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Feel free to grill the corn and red pepper, if you live in a warmer climate or discover this recipe when corn on the cob is in season.

Preparation and cook times don’t include the lentils. The meal will come together fairly quickly if you make them in advance, and they keep well for up to a week.

To make it vegan, exclude the cheese and sour cream dressing, and replace the avocado chunks with your favorite guacamole.

  • Prep Time: 40 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner, Main Dish Salad
  • Cuisine: Gluten-Free, Meatless, Vegan Option