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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

Herbed French Lentil Salad

This Herbed French Lentil Salad is perfect for summertime picnics or potlucks.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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.

Notes

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

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35 Comments

  • Reply
    The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh
    June 25, 2012 at 8:05 am

    That is hilarious! We are going to Paris and Tahiti at some point and we’re hoping to learn French. Your immersion story has given me no hope to retain any of it! HA!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      If you practice it, you could retain it! But that’s the key. Also, I would recommend a learning method that does not involve immersion. 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell
    June 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

    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!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    June 25, 2012 at 11:49 am

    You had me laughing at the picture of lentils wearing fancy little berets 🙂 I always thought lentils took HOURS to cook – this is fast!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      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. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jackie @ The Beeroness
    June 25, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:58 pm

      Ha! You could also substitute “biere” with “baguette.” And there you go: all the vocabulary you need for traveling in Paris.

  • Reply
    Lori Popkewitz Alper
    June 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    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.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Notorious Spinks
    June 25, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    This looks so good. I have some lentils that I bought to cook w/ rice but never did. I’m going to try this recipe.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:49 pm

      Let me know how it turns out if you make it!

  • Reply
    [email protected] eco friendly homemaking
    June 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Okay now this is my kind of recipe!!

  • Reply
    B @ Crags and Veggies
    June 25, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    Oh wow, I love lentils! Sounds awesome. I love doing interesting things with lentils, they’re so versatile!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I love lentils too–I think they’re my favorite protein. I actually made lentil meatballs for dinner tonight!

  • Reply
    Brenda Williams
    June 25, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Never heard of French lentils…I learn so much from your blog! Love the photos.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    marg
    June 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Oh this looks yummy, and the photos are beautiful!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 25, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you! Lentils aren’t the easiest thing to photograph, so it took me a lot of tries to get these. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom
    June 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

    I’ve only ever had lentils in soup. Well, and lentil chips but those don’t really count. This looks like a great way to enjoy them in the summer!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 26, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      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.

  • Reply
    Natalie
    June 26, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    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! 🙂

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      June 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

      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!

  • Reply
    BusyWorkingMama
    July 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Great recipe to use up some of my zucchini!!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 1, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      I am jealous! Although I did just get a yellow squash, which I was pretty excited about. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jenny
    July 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    What a great salad – I love lentils!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm

      Me too. Totally one of my favorite proteins.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    July 1, 2012 at 10:48 pm

    I spent the day trying to find lentils with little berets. No luck!

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      July 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Well, sometimes they wear striped shirts instead…

      (Or am I confusing French stereotypes with mime stereotypes? It’s hot & I’m tired.)

      • Reply
        Rachel
        July 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm

        French mimes, perhaps? Let’s blame it on the heat!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ following in my shoes
    September 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Would you PLEASE do a post on your photography and lighting? And include pull-back shots? your photos always have the most amazing lighting. I just can’t conquer lighting.

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      September 24, 2012 at 10:50 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Nandi
    August 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    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

    • Reply
      Kiersten
      August 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      It sounds like you will definitely figure something out! 🙂 As a vegetarian, I’m thinking up substitutes all the time too.

  • Reply
    Suzanne Germain
    August 11, 2017 at 1:19 pm

    What kind of herbs?

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