Kick your salad routine up a notch with this Waldorf inspired salad featuring plant-based protein. The addition of chickpeas and green lentils pack some much needed protein into this crunchy yet undeniably refreshing salad.
The Waldorf Salad
The classic Waldorf salad has inspired countless adaptations since its creation sometime between 1893-1896. That means the original salad may be almost 125 years old!
With its introduction in the late 1800s, you can only imagine how many variations exist today. But what’s one more, right?
This Crunchy Apple Chickpea Lentil Salad recipe revamps the long-standing Waldorf classic into a delightfully crunchy and filling salad with chickpeas and lentils.
For this salad makeover, plant-based protein is introduced to this otherwise fruity salad with the welcome addition of legumes.
So what exactly are legumes? In short, a legume refers to a seed, pod or other edible part of a leguminous plant used as food. Types of legumes include beans, peas and lentils.
For this salad, we’re using chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and green lentils. Both legumes are excellent sources of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins and minerals.
Legumes vs. Pulses
Although ‘legume’ is the most commonly used classification, you may come across the word ‘pulse’ as well. So what is the difference between a legume and a pulse?
In general terms, legume refers to the plant itself whose fruit or seeds are enclosed in a pod. Pulses are the fruit or seeds inside those pods.
Since lentils are the seeds harvested from a flat pod, lentils are in fact pulses. Even chickpeas are pulses too. But it’s not uncommon for both to be referred to as legumes.
How to Prepare Lentils
As a natural product of a plant, you’ll always want to carefully sort the lentils and rinse thoroughly before cooking them.
The fastest method for sorting lentils is to sprinkle a small amount at a time onto a white or light colored plate. Look for small stones or other debris before transferring to a fine mesh strainer or colander.
Once the lentils are sorted, rinse well under cold water to remove any other impurities.
For this recipe I used small Whole Green or French Green lentils. Green lentils are perfect for adding a little crunch to salads as they hold their shape very well when properly cooked.
Important Step: Squeeze Dry the Cooked Lentils
For this Crunchy Apple Chickpea Lentil Salad recipe, it is very important to remove any extra water from the cooked green lentils. I have found this step necessary to prevent the salad from become too runny.
First, let the cooked lentils drain and cool.
Once cooled and with a paper towel in hand, gently grab handfuls of the lentils at a time to remove any extra water.
Another drying method is to transfer the cooked lentils to a paper towel lined plate or cutting board. Gather the corners of the paper towel and gently squeeze dry the lentils.
You’ll be surprised by how much water was clinging on!
The Crunchy Ingredients
We’ve all heard the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but what if you don’t love apples enough to eat one every day? This salad is the perfect solution to that problem.
Plus, the apple is a key ingredient as it contributes that characteristic crunch that the Waldorf salad is known for. Of course you can change up the apple variety. My favorites for this recipe are the Gala and Granny Smith apple.
The Gala apple has a well-rounded apple flavor, typically mild and sweet yet crisp. Galas are usually available year round too, so you don’t have to wait for peak apple season.
If tartness is what you’re after then go for the white-fleshed Granny Smith apple. The crispy Granny Smith apple is known for its acidic tartness while still holding a subtle sweetness.
For the other crunchy ingredients, feel free to swap the red grapes and pecans for green grapes and walnuts, respectively.
Red grapes are my preferred choice as they are sweeter and contain higher antioxidant levels than green grapes. Besides, the color green is already covered by the chopped celery!
5 Ingredient Creamy Dressing
The dressing ingredients are kept to a minimum since the salad offers an abundance of flavor. There are a number of ways you can make this simple, 5 ingredient creamy dressing. I made the dressing with a vegan mayo.
Make it Vegetarian: If you’re not trying to avoid eggs, then you can go with a traditional mayonnaise. If you want to scale back on the mayo, you can substitute half of the mayo with 2% Greek yogurt.
Note: If substituting half the mayo with yogurt, you may want to scale back on the lemon juice. This may alter the dressing to a slightly bitter note. You can always adjust and add more lemon juice as you taste.
Make it Vegan: Interested in an egg-free, vegan mayonnaise? You’re in luck! There are now many vegan mayo options available at most grocery stores.
I used the eggless vegan mayo brand – Just Mayo, by Hampton Creek. Another popular brand to try is Vegenaise.
Even if you’re not vegan, the vegan mayos are definitely worth trying. The only minor difference I noticed is that they have slightly less holding power over time. But it doesn’t really mater since this salad is best when enjoyed fresh or within a couple days of making it.
>> I’m curious, what mayo brand is your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below! <<
Add the creamy dressing and mix well.
Enjoy this healthy, plant-based protein salad that is bursting with flavor and endless bites of crunch.
Let me know if you made this recipe!Print
Crunchy Apple Chickpea Lentil Salad
This delicious revamp of the Waldorf salad is delightfully crunchy and packed with plant-based protein with the welcome addition of chickpeas and lentils. Bursting with flavor and endless bites of crunch, this is an undeniably refreshing salad.
Produce | Grapes, Celery, Red Onion, Apple (Gala or Granny Smith), Lemon
Pantry | Green Lentils, Chickpeas, Pecans (or Walnuts)
Fridge | Mayonnaise
Spices | Fine Sea Salt, Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Oils & Vinegars | Apple Cider Vinegar
Optional | Serve on Spinach or Romaine Lettuce (or simply enjoy alone!)
- Cook Time: 25
- Total Time: Less than 1 Hour
- Yield: 6 cups 1x
- Category: Side Dish
- Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
- 1/2 cup Green Lentils, carefully sorted and rinsed
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) of Water
- 1 15-ounce can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 heaping cup whole Red or Green Grapes, halved
- 1 cup thinly sliced Celery (about four medium sized stalks)
- 1/3 cup Red Onion, diced small or thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup halved Pecans, or raw halved Walnuts
- 1 large sized Gala or Granny Smith Apple, chopped into bite sized pieces
- Optional: Serve on Spinach or Romaine lettuce or simply enjoy alone!
- 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (see note)
- 1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
- 1/4 teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Lentils and Chickpeas
- Carefully sort the dry lentils and rinse (see recipe notes). In a medium sized saucepan, add the lentils to unsalted water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Once cooked, drain excess water and set aside to cool.
- Once the lentils have cooled, gently grab handfuls at a time with a paper towel to remove any extra water. Or transfer the lentils to a paper towel lined plate and pat dry.
- Rinse and thoroughly drain the chickpeas. Again, pat dry the chickpeas with a paper towel to remove any extra water. Don’t worry if the outer shell of the chickpea pops off during this process.
Whisk and Chop
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayo, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until needed.
- Prepare the remaining ingredients but chop the apple last to minimize browning.
- In a large bowl, combine the lentils, chickpeas, grapes, celery, red onion, apple, pecans and dressing. Using a large spoon, gently mix until well combined. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before serving.
- Enjoy as is or serve on a bed of spinach or romaine lettuce. Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container for 2-3 days (see note). This salad is best when enjoyed within the first day of making it.
- Sorting the Lentils: Sprinkle the lentils on a white salad-sized plate in small increments to easily spot any stones or debris. Once checked, transfer the lentils to a fine mesh strainer or colander. I have found it’s faster to sort lentils in small batches rather than the entire amount at once.
- Cooking the Lentils: I prefer to simmer the lentils uncovered even though most packaging instructions will tell you otherwise and to cook them covered. I find simmering covered tends to create softer lentils whereas we want them crunchier for this type of salad. Try experimenting to find your own preferred method!
- Make it Vegetarian: If you’re not trying to avoid eggs, then you can go with a traditional mayonnaise. If you want to scale back on the mayo, you can substitute half of the mayo with 2% Greek yogurt. Note: If substituting half the mayo with yogurt, you may want to scale back on the lemon juice. This may alter the dressing to a slightly bitter note. You can always adjust and add more lemon juice as you taste.
- Make it Vegan: Use an egg-free mayonnaise to make this salad vegan. I used Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo and it worked perfectly. Another popular brand to try is Vegenaise.
- Storage: As mentioned in the post, vegan mayo has a tendency to become more runny after a few days than traditional mayo. Enjoy the vegan version within the first or second day of assembling this salad. Or keep the dressing separate from the other ingredients until closer to serving. Don’t forget to chill the salad prior to serving.