Recipe | Herbed French Lentil Salad

Herbed French Lentil Salad

Herbed French Lentil Salad
When I was a senior in college, I had to take a summer of intensive French classes before I could graduate. When it came to languages, I was always a dabbler and I could never find one and stick with it, which is how I ended up in the predicament of spending 6 hours a day, 5 days a week taking French for an entire summer.

They say that immersion is the best way to learn a language but I say that that’s a lie. Because I remember nothing. Nothing! Our instructor was of the opinion that it was most useful to learn “real world” words instead of the basics and that this must be learned by immersion. So the days in my French class were spent conversing about diseases, the pros and cons of nuclear power, and the United Nations. And to this day, one of the few French phrases I remember is “j’ai l’hepatite.”

Herbs for French Lentil Salad
Between the whole immersion thing and the oppressive summer heat (in a windowless classroom!), the entire summer began to take on a surreal feeling. And so now whenever the weather starts getting hot and humid, I remember that summer of French immersion. A completely wasted summer because I speak no French at all. If I went to France, I’d be able to tell people to shut up and that I have hepatitis and angina and that’s it. And if I went to France and said these things to people, I fear I may end up in an institution of some sort. This would not be a good vacation.

All this rambling is to say: I decided to make a French Lentil Salad because a) it was hot and a chilled salad seemed like it would be a good lunch and b) hot days make me think of French things. And French lentils are French things!

French Lentils
The difference between French lentils and regular lentils is that French lentils wear fancy little berets are slightly firmer (which works well in a salad) and a little bit smaller. You might also find them sold as French green lentils or lentilles du Puy. I paired the lentils with fresh herbs from the garden–I used a little bit of everything that I’m growing, so if you have an herb garden too, go wild! And if you’re not growing any herbs this summer, grab some thyme, rosemary, or parsley from the grocery store or farmers market. This Herbed French Lentil Salad is a perfect light dinner or lunch and it makes a great take-along for picnics and potlucks.

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Herbed French Lentil Salad

Prep Time

10 minutes

Cook Time

20 minutes

Total Time

30 minutes




  • 1 c. French lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c. chopped roasted red pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs


  1. Combine lentils and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low; simmer for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft enough to eat, but still firm. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add lentils, zucchini, red pepper, and herbs and stir until combined. For best flavor, refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.


If you can’t find French lentils, use brown lentils and follow the cooking instructions on the package.


What the heck? Do you stay dry when immersed in a pool also? lol You crack me up. But that salad looks really good. I don’t think I’ve ever tried that exact kind of lentil, but I really do enjoy them. Looks beautiful too!

Ha! Okay, you know how in the Peanuts cartoons, the adults speak and all the kids hear is “wah wah wah wah.” That’s what language immersion is like. Wah wah wah.

No! That’s dried beans. Lentils are much better because they don’t require soaking or long cooking times. And, in my opinion, they taste way better too. 🙂

I know this is going to be a huge shock to you, but the only thing I remember from what little french I learned when I was in Paris is, “Je voudrais une biere” Yep, that’s it. But it came in super handy.
And I love lentils, This salad looks perfect on a hot day, with a biere.

Thanks for the Monday morning laugh. I took french all the way through college and there was a time when I was fluent. I remember nothing-or possibly the same few phrases as you and a few more that might land me in an institution too.

I love cooking with lentils-they are full of protein and simple to prepare. Thanks for the great recipe.

Isn’t that sad? But I think language is one of those things where you need to use it or lose it and unfortunately here in the US, we don’t have much occasion to use it. I totally regret that after taking Spanish, German, French, and Mandarin, I still only speak English.

They usually only sell brown lentils in bags at the grocery store, but other kinds of lentils (including the French ones) are in the bulk bins. I don’t like when lentils fall apart and get mushy, which is why I like the French ones!

Lentil salads are so good and really easy to put together! You cook the lentils and then add an oil, an acid (I usually use lemon juice or red wine vinegar), and then veggies, herbs, or whatever else.

Haha I took French classes all through university but I still can’t speak it – I always thought I needed to be more immersed in it to be more confident with it, but I guess that wouldn’t have worked either! Oh well, at least it gave you the inspiration for this yummy salad! 🙂

Well, maybe immersion works for some people, but it definitely didn’t for me. 🙂 And I think if you speak a little to begin with, immersion can help reinforce those skills. But if you walk into a classroom not knowing a lick of French and your teacher refuses to use English at all, well, it’s a little more difficult!

I always feel like I am so weak on lighting too! (Well, lighting and staging/styling.) I take my photos in the dining room, which has windows on two sides. I set up my shots so the subject is lined up with one window on the side and I’m shooting towards the other window. So I’m getting backlight & sidelight, although the backlight isn’t very strong.

Living in Panama means those little bereted lentils have fled the country, if they were ever here in the first place. But I’ve learned a few tricks and I’m making this salad today! I’ll have to substitute something for the zucchini… imagine NO zucchini in the summer! I’ve become the “substitute” queen of Panama. This is gonna be one great supper! Thanks for the recipe

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