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French Lentil Salad

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5 from 3 votes

Healthy and refreshing, this easy lentil salad combines green lentils, sweet onion, crunchy celery and carrots, herbs and spices, and a simple yet bright vinaigrette. It’s a satisfying and flavor-packed weekday lunch or side dish!

When you think about lentil salad, you may normally prepare yourself for a snooze fest of boring, bland flavor. But just hear me out, and give lentils another shot to prove you wrong! Trust me, this lentil salad is far from bland, thanks to this classic French recipe!

The best part of lentils is that they are incredibly easy to cook, absorb flavor really well, and are super affordable! Lentils are a bit starchy like tiny beans, mixed with crunchy veggies, fresh parsley and spices, all tossed in a quick vinaigrette, this salad is balanced, fresh and vibrant. Better yet, green lentils are packed with protein and fiber making this lentil salad hearty and satisfying as a meal on its own or in smaller portions as a side dish. 

The French just know how to eat, don’t they? Another French pair you just have to check out is a crusty French Baguette dipped into Onion Soup. Can you get any more classic than that?

How To Cook Lentils

Affordable, convenient, and you don’t even have to soak the lentils before cooking them! Simply place them in a pan with water (I love to add a bay leaf for more flavor) and bring them to a boil. After they reach a boil, turn the heat down to a steady simmer, cover the pot and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. Cook until tender, but not too soft. The key is to avoid overcooking to prevent the lentils from becoming mushy. 

Lentil Salad Ingredients

  • Green lentils – green lentils have a robust, earthy flavor with a slightly peppery taste. They also hold their shape really well when cooked. My favorites are French lentils because they hold their shape when cooked, and have a robust, earthy flavor…plus they cook relatively quickly! 
  • Bay leaf – bay leaves add beautiful herbal undertones. 
  • Sweet onion – sweet onions have a higher sugar content making them quite mild and sweet in flavor. 
  • Celery – celery adds crunch and a sweet, earthy flavor. 
  • Carrot – carrots are sweet and crunchy, adding a vibrant pop of orange! 
  • Italian parsley – fresh flat-leaf parsley adds a pop of green and freshness. 
  • Garlic – garlic makes everything better.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – extra virgin olive oil adds flavor and moisture. 
  • Sherry wine vinegar – sherry wine vinegar is a richer, more flavorful red wine vinegar. 
  • Allspice – allspice is known for its warm and sweet flavor, carrying notes of cloves and nutmeg. It’s a classic component in French lentil salad!

How To Make Lentil Salad

Learn how to make lentil salad! Full instructions in the recipe card; this is an outline!

  1. Rinse.

    Rinse lentils to remove any sand/dirt.

  2. Add.

    Add lentils and bay leaf to a pot with 3 cups of water.

  3. Boil.

    Bring lentils to a boil. Then turn down to a steady simmer, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender.

  4. Drain.

    Drain lentils and remove the bay leaf. Place in a large bowl.

  5. Add more.

    Add in onion, celery, carrot, garlic, parsley, sherry wine vinegar, olive oil, allspice, and salt and pepper.

  6. Toss.

    Toss until combined.

  7. Serve.

    Serve slightly warm, room temperature or chilled.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you need to soak lentils before cooking them?

Not at all! Unlike beans, lentils do not need to soak prior to cooking.

What type of lentil is best to use?

Green lentils are the best for salads because they are firmer and maintain their shape during the cooking process unlike many red lentils. My favorite lentils to use for this salad are French lentils because they hold their shape and texture the best, and they are even more flavorful than your standard green lentils.

How long does lentil salad keep for?

Store the lentil salad in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days. They are even better with time!

Serving Suggestions

Lentil salad is delicious on its own as a meal for lunch or served in smaller portions as a side! Here are a few of my favorite pairing options: 

  • With pita bread or naan: serve with warm pita bread or Wheat Naan for the perfect way to scoop up bites of lentil salad! 
  • As a crostini bar topper: put together a yummy crostini bar by serving these Homemade Crostinis with a variety of toppings including a whipped ricotta spread, pesto, cured meats like prosciutto, a selection of cheeses, smoked salmon, and of course, this lentil salad! 
  • Stuffed in avocado halves: avocado is the perfect vessel for this vibrant green lentil salad! Together, you’ll get a wonderful balance of textures from the crunchy veggies to the creaminess of the avocado. 
  • As lettuce wraps: create the perfect light lunch, appetizer or snack by serving this lentil salad in a butter lettuce leaf. 
  • Perfect for picnics: bring this lentil salad along with Homemade Strawberry Lemonade and a charcuterie platter with cured meats, Marinated Olives, cheeses, and your favorite crackers for a perfect picnic spread.
  • To-go lunch at the office: packed lunches are made easy with this lentil salad! It is portable, easy to portion ahead of time, and doesn’t have to be warmed if you don’t have access or time between meetings!

More Salad Recipes You’ll Love!

French Lentil Salad

Healthy and refreshing, this easy lentil salad combines green lentils, sweet onion, crunchy celery and carrots, herbs and spices, and a simple yet bright vinaigrette. It’s a satisfying and flavor-packed weekday lunch or side dish!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: French, Mediterranean
Keyword: spring, summer
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 316kcal
Author: Tastefully Grace

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green lentils French lentils are my favorite green lentil!
  • cup sweet onion finely chopped
  • cup celery finely chopped
  • cup carrot finely chopped
  • cup Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sherry wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice the secret ingredient!
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Rinse lentils to remove any sand/dirt.
  • Add lentils and bay leaf to a pot with about 3 cups water. Bring them to a boil, then turn down to a steady simmer, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes until tender but not mushy.
  • Drain lentils, remove bay leaf, and place in a large bowl. Add in onion, celery, carrot, garlic, parsley, sherry wine vinegar, olive oil, allspice, and salt and pepper.
  • Toss until combined.
  • Serve slightly warm, room temperature or chilled.

Video

Notes

  • Keeps well in the fridge, covered, for up to 5 days!

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 668mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4503IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 5mg
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