This French Lentil Salad recipe is packed with flavor from a cumin, lemon and garlic-infused oil, toasted almonds, olives and feta cheese. The variety of flavors are met with equal amounts of crunch from fresh Swiss chard, perfectly-cooked lentils, and crisp cucumbers. Make it a meal by serving with pan seared chicken or salmon, or prep this ahead of time for quick and easy lunches all week long.
Types of lentils
Green & Brown Lentils: cook in 30-45 minutes. Use in soups, pilafs, veggie burgers, and fillings (green are slightly smaller than brown).
French Green Lentils: cook in 20-25 minutes. Somewhat between black lentils and green/brown lentils. Hold their shape during cooking. Use in pilafs, grain dishes, salads, and with chicken or fish.
Black or Beluga Lentils: cook in 20–30 minutes. Hold their small round shape during cooking. Use in pilafs, grain dishes, salads, and with chicken or fish.
Red or Yellow Lentils: cook in 20–25 minutes. Don’t hold their shape during cooking, use in soups, dahls, dips, and veggie burgers.
Cooking lentils like pasta
I first learned of cooking lentils like pasta from Bon Appetit a few years ago and I’ve never gone back. Not only can you monitor their doneness more closely, but this method allows you to season the lentils well right off the bat.
The key—cook lentils in adequate salted water until tender yet still a bit toothsome (they have a bite).
How to make this recipe (step-by-step photos)
- Add some sweetness—diced dried apricots, raisins or currants are a great addition.
- Swap the feta for fresh goat cheese.
- Use capers in place of olives.
- Use all kale instead of a combination of kale and Swiss chard. Tuscan kale is also a great option here.
- Swap the cumin seeds out for fennel seeds.
- Add diced red onion for more flavor.
- Add diced yellow bell pepper in place of the cucumber.
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
How to serve lentil salad
- Lightly sauté a few servings of the salad in a nonstick skillet until warmed through.
- Serve with Perfect Pan Seared Chicken
- Serve as a side dish with Pan Seared Salmon.
How to store and how long this salad last
Store this lentil salad in a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Lentil recipes you might also like…
If you give this Lentil Salad recipe a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!Print
Fresh, crunchy, and full of good-for-you ingredients, this kale and lentil salad is PACKED with flavor and texture from a cumin-infused oil to toasted almonds, feta and Swiss Chard. This is one salad you're bound to fall in love with. Serve as an entree with chicken or salmon or meal prep and enjoy as lunch all week long.
- 1 bunch purple kale or regular kale (8–10oz.), stemmed and chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (8–10oz.), stemmed and chopped
- Kosher salt
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1 lemon
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup raw almonds (2.7oz.), coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cups French green lentils or black lentils
- 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, smashed
- ½ English cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
- ½ cup chopped parsley
Add kale to a large bowl, season with ½ teaspoon salt, and massage until kale is slightly softened, about 30 seconds. Add Swiss chard and toss to combine.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat; season heavily with kosher salt (about a tablespoon). Add lentils, reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender yet slightly al dente; 20–25 minutes.
Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, peel four 3-inch strips of lemon peel, making sure to avoid white pith; reserve lemon for later. Add lemon peels to a small skillet with scallion whites, smashed garlic cloves and oil.
Heat skillet over medium and cook oil mixture, stirring occasionally, until garlic starts to brown and lemon peels start to curl and toast, about 3 minutes. Add almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until almonds are browned, 3–4 minutes. Off heat, stir in cumin seeds and red pepper flakes and let rest in oil 1–2 minutes.
Strain mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set in a small bowl; reserve oil. Pour nut mixture onto a paper towel-lined plate, making sure to get all of the cumin seeds; season with salt and let cool. Discard lemon peels.*
Once cool, mash cooked garlic cloves into a paste using the side of a Chefs knife; transfer to bowl with reserved oil. Juice reserved lemon (should measure about ¼ cup); add to oil and garlic and whisk to combine.
Using a strainer, drain lentils well; add to bowl with kale and Swiss chard.
Add reserved scallion greens, half of the almond mixture, oil mixture, feta, olives, cucumber and parsley; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and top with remaining almond mixture.
Make it vegan and dairy-free: leave the feta cheese out of the salad.
Smashing Olives: use the back of your hand to smash olives. This will also work for olive with pits, use the back of your hand to smash them and the seeds will be easy to remove. Blah blah blah rework this
Lemon Peels: if you love intense lemon flavor, feel free to mince the cooked lemon peels and add back to the salad.
Massaging the Swiss Chard: I don’t call for massaging the chard like I do the kale because I like the leafy crunch it adds. However, if your stomach prefers hearty greens to be massaged (or you want a leff leafy, more lentil-forward salad) go ahead and massage the chard as well. If you massage the chard, the total yield will decrease to around 9 or 10 cups.
Cooking Lentils: When cooking with lentils, it is important to pick through them and discard any stones or debris before cooking. I like to spread the lentils on a baking sheet to pick through, as it makes the process easier. I also recommend rinsing the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer prior to cooking.
- Serving Size: 1 cup
- Calories: 165
- Sugar: 1g
- Sodium: 649mg
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated Fat: 2.5g
- Carbohydrates: 9.5g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 5g
- Cholesterol: 8mg
Keywords: lentil salad, french lentil salad, lentil salad recipe