A good place to start is with the Lentil Salad with Bacon (which tastes great without the bacon, too, if you don't want bacon in your salad). It's an adapatation of a recipe by Alton Brown of the Food Network.
Lentils are jam packed with nuturients and fiber and they also are the second best source of plant protein after soybeans. The thing that I like is that they cook up really fast, without soaking, so they are ready to go into the salad quickly. The salad can also be served at room temperature or warm, so it's perfect for the potluck at the soccer game or baseball game. No need to worry if it sits out on a hot summer day.
The best thing about this salad is that it tastes so good. I tried it before I added the bacon and it was yummy that way, too.
For mine, I used 1.5 cups of regular green lentils, and 1 cup of the tiny French green lentils. I added the French lentils to boil 15 minutes after I started the regular ones so that they wouldn't overcook. They added a slightly mineral taste. The salad would probably be fine if made completely with either kind of lentil. The other change I made was due to poor planning. I didn't have any red wine vinegar, so I substituted balsamic vinegar, white vinegar and lemon juice. The fresh herbs certainly give the salad a positive flavor, so try to use fresh instead of dried.
based on a recipe by Alton Brown
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
(the above three ingredients can be replaced with 1/2 cup red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt (kosher salt if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (freshly ground is best)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon findely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 recipe Basic Cooked Lentils (see recipe below)
Whisk the vinegars, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, parsley and thyme together in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm lentils and bacon and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature. If you will be serving this much later, save the bacon in a zip-lock bag and add it 1/2 hour or so before serving. (That way the bacon stays crisp.)
Basic Cooked Lentils
1 pound brown or green lentils, approximately 2 1/2 cups
1 small onion, halved
1 large clove garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 pound salt pork, optional
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pick over the lentils, rinse and drain. Place the lentils along with the onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt and pork into a large 6-quart saucepan and cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Place over high heat and bring just to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Drain any remaining liquid and discard the onion, garlic, bay leaf and salt pork. Stir in black pepper and taste for salt. Serve immediately or use in Lentil Salad.