French herbed lentil salad
Lentils can be a bit too bland for some people’s palates, but they’re wonderful at absorbing other flavors. So combined with aromatic vegetables, herbs and a simple vinaigrette, they’re a revelation. In this rustic French salad, the earthy, peppery flavor of puy lentils (small slate-green lentils) pairs perfectly with the sweetness of sautéed shallots, carrot and fennel.
It’s a great salad to make any time of the year — particularly when the usual salad suspects like lettuce, tomato and cucumber are scarce. But it also makes a lovely summer salad served with barbecued or grilled chicken, fish, or seafood. It’s a hearty dish as is, although you can easily round it out to make a filling meal by adding a little cooked bacon, a handful of toasted walnuts or crumbled goat’s cheese, and serving with some crusty bread on the side. It also makes a very tasty topping for bruschetta.
Because this salad is so yummy and easy to make it’s become a staple at our place. You don’t even need to soak the lentils first, just simmer them in boiling water for twenty minutes until tender. While the lentils cook, you dice and sauté the vegetables, then toss them both with the vinaigrette. It tastes best served warm or at room temperature, but you can make it in advance and refrigerate, then bring back to room temperature before eating. (It will last well for up to 3 days in the fridge.)
Another thing we love about this salad is how nutritious it is. Lentils are packed with protein and soluble fiber (which not only clears bad cholesterol from your body but also helps to balance your blood sugars), while the vegetables deliver a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 carrot — finely diced
2 shallots — finely diced (or use 1 small red onion)
½ fennel bulb — finely diced (about 1½ cups worth)
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove — minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Serving ideas: This salad makes a lovely summer salad served with barbecued or grilled chicken, fish, or seafood. You can also easily round it out to make a filling meal by adding a little cooked bacon, a handful of toasted walnuts or crumbled goat’s cheese, and serving with some crusty bread on the side. And it makes a very tasty topping for bruschetta.