french warm lentil salad

french warm lentil salad [ ]

I’ve never been to France, and I’m a little embarrassed to say it. I’ve heard people wax dreamily about it ad infinitum, almost as if there are two groups of people in the world: ones who have felt the true experience of France or Paris, and those who haven’t. The truth is, if I’d had the opportunity to visit, I would have long ago. Being well-traveled is a colossal privilege, and one I haven’t yet had the opportunity to fully experience. I’ve had some amazing trips in my lifetime: Vancouver was one of my favorite places I’ve ever been, and as a stop on a cruise I was able to be in the Bahamas, albeit only for about two hours. But aside from that, when I traveled throughout my life it has always been to various places in the U.S. where my family members lived: New Jersey, Michigan, and then Arizona after I’d moved to the east coast. All of the travel dollars and frequent flyer miles went toward seeing family instead of embarking upon world adventures, and I absolutely don’t regret that at all.

french warm lentil salad [ ]

That all being said, of course pretty much all of Europe is at the top of my “I want to go there” list. As for now, I feel like I have gotten a slice of what France must be like from food, and food writing. I loved David Lebovitz’ The Sweet Life in Paris. I’ve even read a book about how French people parent differently, despite not yet having kids or any plans to anytime soon. And of course Molly of Orangette is a great resource for stories and foods of France, and I’m so glad she shared this warm lentil salad that she says is very common in France, in an even simpler form.

french warm lentil salad [ ]

I’ve made this lentil salad at least three times now, and I swear it only gets better. It’s just a simple warmed mirepoix with thyme that gets laced into a nice mustardy red wine vinaigrette, and tumbled together with loads of French green lentils, or lentils de Puy. I’d say it’s important to find actual French green lentils, because they tend to hold their shape and structure better than other lentils that can more easily turn to mush. These lentils stay nice and round and are so, so good with these simple seasonings. My boyfriend Dan likes to eat this with rice, and I like eating it just on its own. Of course, as Molly suggests, it can be a great lunch with charcuterie and pickles, and maybe a nice crusty bread…

French-Style Warm Lentil Salad
From Orangette

Serves 4 as a side

1 cup French green (also known as “Puy”) lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 cups water
1 Turkish bay leaf
½ tsp. salt, divided
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp. plus ½ tsp. red wine vinegar
½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Crunchy sea salt, for serving
2 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsley, for serving

In a medium saucepan, bring the lentils, water, and bay leaf to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in ¼ teaspoon salt, and then simmer, covered, for another 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but not falling apart.

While the lentils simmer, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just softened, about 7 to 9 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons vinegar, mustard, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, and whisk to emulsify.

When the lentils are ready, drain them in a colander or sieve, and discard the bay leaf. Dump them into the skillet with the vegetables, and add the vinaigrette. Cook over low heat, stirring gently, until heated through. Stir in the remaining ½ tsp. vinegar, and serve warm, with crunchy salt and parsley for sprinkling.


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It