We recently discovered our love for lentils after Clayton’s mom sent us a beautiful bag of tri-color lentils. We made it into a classic French-style lentil salad with a red wine and dijon mustard dressing. The more research we did and the more practice we’ve had cooking with lentils, we learned that for a lentil salad, you can’t beat French green (or “Le Puy”) lentils.
Le Puy lentils cook relatively quickly but retain a tiny bit of crunch, which makes them perfect for a salad. As long as you don’t overcook them, they won’t get mushy. There are a lot of variations on a French lentil salad, like adding bacon, goat cheese, or anchovies (see our favorite here), but we like to keep this salad simple for two reasons.
First, the lentils are so good that we really prefer them as simple as possible. Second, our recipe is an amazingly delicious and healthy vegan recipe that we could eat every week and not miss the meat or dairy, so it’s a great healthy option to work into your meal planning.
This is also a really versatile dish. You can serve it warm or cold, and it could be a main course or a salad course or side dish as part of a larger meal. We can think of a lot of great wine pairings. It can even stand up to a lot of red wines.
A few tips: Make sure to rinse the lentils before cooking. We use this size mesh strainer for rinsing so you don’t lose any lentils through the holes. You’ll want to dice your vegetables so small that they are almost the size of the cooked lentils. This means you’ll need a really sharp knife. We used this size. This, this, and this would also be good options. Walnut oil gives the salad extra richness but you could also use another nut oil like hazelnut.
You can make the entire dish in a four quart saucepan (ours here). You can serve it either on classic white restaurant bowls like we did, or for a more festive presentation, something French inspired. We especially like these, these and these. For more, check out our recipe for pan seared halibut with lentils and salsa verde here.
- 2 cups French green Le Puy lentils
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1 medium onion (or one half large onion) finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 2 stalks of celery, finely diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons of walnut oil
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- Handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves,
- Rinse your lentils and place in a large saucepan, with plenty of vegetable stock to cover them by a few inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let cook 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils begin to soften.
- Add all of the diced vegetables and the bay leaf to the pan and continue to cook 10-15 more minutes, or until the lentils are fully cooked but not too soft. They should have a little bite.
- Drain the lentils well and make the dressing by combining the minced shallot, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, walnut oil., and olive oil in a small bowl and seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Toss the dressing with the lentils and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Toss in the chopped fresh parsley immediately before serving.