I love lentil salads. They're hearty, healthy, and (most importantly) resilient, holding up well for days in the fridge. I make a huge batch of some sort of lentil salad at least every couple of weeks and dip into the bowl for snacks and lunches just about every day. David Lebovitz's version of the French classic in his new cookbook, My Paris Kitchen, is a great salad to add to my repertoire. Made with sturdy lentils du Puy and a simple Dijon vinaigrette, the salad doesn't stray far from expected flavors. But each bite sings in perfect harmony with the next, making this dish a perfect template for experimentation.
Why I picked this recipe: I may have a lentil salad addiction.
What worked: I especially appreciated Lebovitz's streamlined cooking method for the lentils and vegetables: they all go into the same pot of water, staggered to ensure proper cooking.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: While Lebovitz uses parsley, walnuts, and goat cheese, you could mix-and-match different herbs, nuts, and cheese as you'd like. For example, basil, pine nuts, and Parmesan would give the salad an entirely different identity.
Reprinted with permission from My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stoires by David Lebovitz. Copyright 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- For the Lentils:
- 1 1/2 cups (270g) French green lentils (preferably from Le Puy)
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 sprigs thyme
- 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 rib celery, finely diced
- For the Dressing:
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt or kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup (60ml) olive oil, or half walnut oil and half olive oil
- 1 small shallot, peeled and minced
- For Serving:
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup (30g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 cup (100g) walnuts or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (130g) crumbled fresh or slightly aged goat cheese or feta cheese
Rinse the lentils and put them in a saucepan with plenty of lightly salted water, the bay leaf, and the thyme. Bring to a boil, decrease the heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Add the finely diced vegetables and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the lentils are tender; be careful not to overcook them.
While the lentils are cooking, make the dressing. Mix the vinegar, salt, mustard, oil, and shallot in a large bowl.
Drain the lentils well and mix them into the dressing while still warm, stirring to coat the lentils. Remove the bay leaf and thyme and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Add a few grinds of black pepper and mix in the parsley, chopped nuts, and goat cheese. Taste, and add additional salt, if desired. I serve the salad at room temperature or warm. If served warm, omit the goat cheese, or crumble it on top at the last minute, so it doesn’t melt—but instead, slightly softens. The salad can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Let it come to room temperature before serving; it may need to be re-seasoned once refrigerated.