[LYVL Challenge] Garlic Lentil Cake Salad with a Creamy Basil Dressing

Hey!  Hey, you!  Good morning!  Happy salad day of our LYVL mini challenge!  Yayyyyyyyy salads!!!!

You were probably expecting Terrence on this one, but nope.  It’s me – the salad-hater Brittany – coming to you today with some tips (and a killer recipe) to help all of us salad-questioners get our veggies in!

The first tip I’d like to give begins with lettuce.  Now, if you’re like me, you’re an iceberg / romaine kinda person.   Crunchy, refreshing, but incredibly low bang for your nutritional buck.  How I yearned for the days when I’d enjoy a spinach salad with a genuine smile on my face, but the truth is if I detect anything that resembles leaves I could find in my back yard, and it’s a no-go.  My solution for this salad?  Keep romaine as the bulk of the salad, but chop up some dark leafy greens VERY thinly and spread them throughout.  We did the same with some red cabbage.  I was skeptical at first, but when I took my first bite I honestly thought T had forgotten to add the spinach.  Those sneaky leafy greens!

Tip #2 is one of my favorites:  For me, the salad has to have a main attraction, something more than just raw crunchy veggies, something a bit warm and hearty to add bulk and a punch of flavor.  Perhaps some BBQ seitan slices, roasted crunchy chickpeas, maybe even some roasted walnut meat!  For this salad, I went with super-garlicky lentil cakes.  We baked them in the oven to avoid excess oil (I know; who am I?), and they were a seriously awesome addition – crunchy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside.  Perfection.

Lentil Cake Salad
T crumbled his lentil cakes like so.

Tip #3 is all about the dressing.  I have no desire for these light, fruity salad dressings.  In fact, if I see it on a menu or hear someone talk about their “lemon vinaigrette blah blah salad”, the look on my face will be one of disgust and horror.  I wish I could hide it, but I can’t.  Where’s the joy in eating salad without a thick creamy flavor-filled dressing smothering your veggies?!  That’s why for this salad, we chose a creamy basil dressing.  It is PACKED with flavor, no oil (I KNOW!!), and obviously free from the cruelty that is the dairy industry.  The recipe below calls for a tahini base, but if you’re not a fan of tahini, you can also use silken or soft tofu (just go very easy on the liquid if you do) or even some soaked cashews.  Either way, try this dressing because it will make your salad something worthy of excitement! 🙂

And there you have it, friends.  Three tips to get the salad-haters in your life (perhaps including yourself!) to see there’s more to vegan salads than just raw veggies and vinaigrette.  We hope you make and LOVE this salad as much as we did.  When you do, be sure to tag it #LYVLchallenge, so we can cheer each other on!  Cheers!

Lentil Cake Salad

5 from 1 vote


For the lentil cakes

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • ¼ onion minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 6-8 large cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • cups veg broth OR reserved lentil cooking water
  • 3 Tbsp flour I used chickpea this time but have had luck with oat and whole wheat.

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup tahini or silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup veg broth 1/4 cup if using tofu
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 - 4 large basil leaves and/or small handful of spinach optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

  • 1 head romaine lettuce washed and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 2 cups finely sliced spinach leaves


  • Add the lentils and water to a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and decrease the heat to medium-high. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 10 to 12 minutes. Then drain (you can reserve the water and use in place of veg broth later in the recipe).
  • While the lentils are cooking, add the olive oil, onion, and salt to a large saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, and turmeric and cook - whilst stirring constantly - for 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the drained lentils and 1 cup of the veg broth or reserved cooking water. Bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium and allow to simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until the lentils for about 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Remove the lentil mixture from heat and mash with a potato masher. You want to leave some texture to it. Then, stir in the flour and mix until a loose dough is formed.
  • Use your hands to form patties - 1/4 cup of the lentil mixture at a time - and place them on a lined baking sheet. Set them in the fridge or freezer for about 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375F and bake lentil cakes for 30 - 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • Whilst the lentils cakes are baking, make the salad dressing by throwing all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and blending until smooth. Leave in the fridge until ready to pour.
  • Chop your fresh greens and veggies, arrange them in a large bowl, and (when ready) top with crunchy lentil cakes and drizzle with tahini dressing. We hope you love every minute of it!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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