Summer is salad season. Crisp, refreshing greens in light dressings. Loaded bowls full of protein and every vegetable or fruit imaginable. Hearty grain-based creations served chilled on the side of your plate (or filling the entirety of your bowl). Beans and legumes lifted with the sharpened tastes of dijon, vinegar, olive oil and onion.
I’m sharing a recipe for the last but not least on my list, a lentil (legume) salad that’s sure to be a classic in your repertoire, all year long. Beyond taste, I love that you can pull this together with just a few groceries on hand, using up the last remaining carrot in the vegetable crisper and solo onion on the counter.
(The lentil salad recipe below can be made almost entirely from pantry staples, but when I have more time and groceries, I love to whip up this French Lentil Salad recipe by the Barefoot Contessa.)
It’s a dish that can proudly hold its own or be minimally garnished with a crumbling of goat cheese or dollop of thick yogurt (legumes love these creamy-tangy accompaniments), though I served this lentil salad recipe adorned with a poached egg, avocado and a splattering of hot sauce after a morning of gardening with my garden-savvy boyfriend. Later that evening, we went to Marché Nocturne, devouring lobster rolls, kale caesar, pie and so much more, seated amongst incredible members of our community at an outdoor table that sat hundreds. We haphazardly threw together a riff on this lentil salad recipe to take with us, using chickpeas in place of lentils and pine nuts in place of walnuts. Make this salad recipe your own with what you have on hand. Happy Summer.
Classic Cold French Lentil Salad Recipe
The best French lentil salad recipe only takes a handful of ingredients and 30 minutes to make. I love to add goat cheese, a poached egg, yogurt or avocado (a great way to keep this French lentil salad vegan while adding creaminess) on top, but these lentils are just as nice on their own.
Serves 4 to 6
1 cup dry brown lentils
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup finely diced red onion, rinsed with cold water in a fine mesh sieve, drained
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane
1 teaspoon honey
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, plus more to garnish
1/2 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper, to taste
- Add lentils to a medium saucepan and cover with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, partially cover (do not fully cover or it will boil over) and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain in a large fine mesh sieve and rinse with cold water; drain well and add to a large bowl.
- To lentils, add carrot, rinsed red onions and walnuts.
- In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Add to lentils and toss to combine. Transfer salad to a serving bowl and garnish with additional thyme, if desired. Serve room temperature or chilled. Store leftovers airtight up to 4 days.