Easy to make with just eight ingredients, this salad is a filling and protein packed vegetarian meal or side dish. This is a flexible recipe and you can layer on whatever fresh herbs you have available – so it turns out a little bit differently every time!

This recipe contains eight ingredients and I already told you three of them.

Full list? Halloumi cheese, lentils, tomatoes, pepper, onion, pesto, lemon, herbs.

It’s filling, super tasty and packed with protein. You know you should eat more lentils, and this is how I suggest going about it.

The Easy Pesto Dressing Hack

Using pesto as salad dressing is one of my favourite hacks in a salad with a base of pulses or grains (I did it in this Halloumi Couscous Salad too).

It’s so thick there’s no risk of it turning the salad watery, and it packs enough punch to ensure that no bite is left behind, flavor wise. Lemon juice ups the zing factor, extra herbs add variety, but that pesto is a solid base to build from.

How to cook green lentils for salad

The easiest way would be to use a pouch of ready cooked lentils from the supermarket. They’ll come out the right texture and temperature. Makes sense. Canned lentils are almost as easy, but you will want to rinse, drain and then pat them dry as much as possible before using them in the salad.

The tastiest way is to cook from dried. It really does taste better when you can manage it! See here for stovetop instructions and here for Instant Pot instructions. You want to cook them to al dente, so go with the lower end of suggested cooking times. And then either let them cool in the fridge, or just prepare the salad warm.

Which Herbs to Use

The herbs that suit this recipe best are basil, mint, chives, coriander (cilantro) and parsley.

Obviously you don’t have to use all of them – you’d need a very well stocked garden or pot collection to pull that off. Just layer on as many as you have available, because it does really bring the salad to life! And it means it turns out a little differently every time.

That said, it is still worth making even if you only have one herb! I’ve done it once with basil only, another time with chives only, and it works. Maybe add a little extra pesto if you find it too bland?

No Halloumi?

No problem! Crumble some large chunks of feta on top and call it a day. See the Recipe Notes for more ways to customize this recipe.

Herby Halloumi Lentil Salad

Easy to make with just eight ingredients, this salad is a filling and protein packed vegetarian meal or side dish. This is a flexible recipe and you can layer on whatever fresh herbs you have available – so it turns out a little bit differently every time!
5 from 2 ratings


  • 450 g (3 cups) cooked lentils, see notes
  • 3 Tbsp green pesto, see notes
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 220 g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3-4 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 225 g (7 oz) halloumi, cubed, see notes
  • 1 handful fresh herbs, basil, chives, parsley all work well here


  • In a large bowl, add the lentils and mix in the pesto and lemon juice until they are distributed into the lentils. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the cherry tomatoes, pepper and onion and toss through.
  • Finally, mix in the herbs, reserving a few pinches for topping the salad.
  • Pan fry your halloumi. Lightly oil a nonstick frying pan and turn the heat on to a medium setting. Once the pan is hot (you can test this by putting one piece of halloumi in and seeing if it sizzles) add the halloumi into the pan. Fry for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
  • Mix the halloumi into the salad (or just lay it on top, as pictured) and scatter the remaining herbs.


Lentil Quantities, if using weights
The amount of lentils is fairly flexible here. It’s OK if you have a little more or a little less. I personally find cups a little easier when dealing with cooked lentils because their weight will be somewhat impacted by water content so if you do have access to a measuring cup, aim for around 3 cups. A little less is fine. A little more is fine. Otherwise, if you need to use a scale, aim for 400-500g. 
  • If cooking from dried, your starting point would be 200g of dry lentils.
  • Two cans of lentils, drained and rinsed, would come in about the right amount.
  • Two pouches of ready cooked lentils may be at the higher end, but will work great. 
If you’re using quite a lot of lentils, consider adding extra pesto. 
This recipe can definitely handle a second block of halloumi if you’d rather have it super halloumi-packed or need to stretch between more people.
If you have reeeeally amazing fresh summer tomatoes, you could get away with a little less pesto to let those tomatoes and their juices play more of a role. I tested this recipe a few times and the pesto quantity seemed to creep up as we left the summer months and the tomatoes got less perfect. With the most perfect tomatoes ever, the ones you don’t want anything to overpower, just use 2 Tbsps of pesto.
Calories: 378kcal, Carbohydrates: 31g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 19g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 791mg, Potassium: 628mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1174IU, Vitamin C: 54mg, Calcium: 619mg, Iron: 5mg