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.
Different 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.
The Key to Delicious Lentils: Cooking Them Like Pasta
I first learned of cooking lentils like pasta from Bon Appetit a few years ago and I’ve never gone back. (In fact this recipe is a riff on one of their lentil salad recipes.) Not only can you monitor the doneness of the lentils more closely, but this method allows you to season the lentils from the start.
The key—cook lentils in adequate salted water until tender yet still a bit toothsome (they have a bite).
How to Make this French Lentil Salad (video)
How to Make this Recipe (step-by-step photos)
Variations on this French Lentil Salad Recipe:
- 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 This French 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 This Salad
- Store this lentil salad in a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid.
- Stored this way, salad will last up to 5 days.
More Lentil Recipes to Love…
Fresh & Crunchy French Lentil Salad
- 1 bunch purple kale or regular kale (8–10oz.), stemmed and chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss chard (8–10oz.), stemmed and chopped
- Kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups French green lentils or black lentils
- 1 lemon
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup raw almonds (2.7oz.), coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 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.