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This healthy French lentil salad is full of mediterranean vegetables with fresh summery flavors and textures. The tiny lentils are mixed with tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, olives, arugula, and fresh mint then tossed with tangy lemon dressing.

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad in a bowl with serving spoon, overview

The inspiration for this salad came from the beautiful summer vegetables available in the farmers market. The taste is light and refreshing. The colors are bright and colorful. It’s easy to make and full of protein, fibre, and antioxidants. Perfect for a make ahead lunch or vegetarian dinner. Also good served as a side dish with salmon or chicken.

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad close up showing salad and bowl

Why I Love It

Healthy and nutritious – Lentils are super satisfying, full of plant based protein. They have the most amount of antioxidants all legumes. The large variety of vegetables provide the vitamins and minerals you need to feel good.

Make ahead recipe – This salad can be made 2 or 4 days in advance. Perfect for packing in a jar and taking to work or enjoying as grab-and-go lunch or dinner on a busy day. Since it stays well it’s a good dish to bringing to pot-lucks.

Easy to make – The vegetables and dressing can be prepped in the time that it takes to simmer the lentils. 

Gluten free and vegetarian – This salad is naturally gluten free and vegetarian.

Make it vegan – For vegan leave out the feta cheese or replace with a plant based vegan cheese. Here are a few good brands; Follow Your Heart, Daiya, and Violife.

Crowd pleaser – Since it stays well, it’s a good dish to bring to pot-lucks, barbecues or serve at a dinner party. Everyone loves the bright colors and flavors.

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad overhead shot with mint, parsley and olives on the side

What are French Lentils?

French lentils also known as Puy lentils are about one-third the size of regular lentils. They are special because they hold their shape extremely well, better than any other type of lentil. The crunchy texture makes them fantastic for salads.  Their flavor is more interesting than other lentils.; a bit nutty and peppery, with a slight mineral-like, earthy flavor.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • French lentils or beluga lentils are best for this salad. Green or brown lentils can be substituted but are softer. Don’t use red lentils, they will turn to mush.
  • Red onion – If you don’t like the taste of raw onions, substitute shallots. You can also rinse and drain the diced onions to reduce the oniony flavor.
  • Persian cucumbers cut into small cubes have a fresh crunchy flavor. They are small with thin skins and not many seeds. Organic is best. English cucumbers or traditional cucumbers can be substituted, remove the seeds.
  • Fresh red or yellow peppers have a mild, sweet pepper flavor with a crisp-firm texture. Roasted red peppers from a jar can be substituted but won’t be as crispy. Carrots can be substituted too!
  • Fresh tomatoes give a ripe juicy taste and texture. Cherry tomatoes cut in half can be substituted. If tomatoes are not in season substitute 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes.
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced give the salad a briny Mediterranean taste. Any olive you like can be substituted.
  • Arugula rounds out the salad with fresh greens. Spinach can be substituted.
  • Fresh mint and parsley –  The fresh mint flavor has a bright mediterranean taste in this salad. Parsley pairs beautifully with the tangy lemony dressing. If you don’t like mint use dill, basil or just parsley.
  • Dressing – This is an easy dressing to make with red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon, garlic, salt and pepper. I add a little dried oregano but it’s optional. Lemon juice can be used in place of the red wine vinegar.
  • Feta (optional) – This sheep cheese has a delicious briny flavor that goes well with the sweet vegetables. Goat cheese can be substituted. Leave out or use diary free cheese for vegan.

NOTE: If you don’t have all the vegetables just use what you have. It will still be great. Let it be easy!

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad ingredients

Do You Have to Soak Lentils?

Lentils to do not require soaking, they cook beautifully, retaining their texture and rich peppery flavor but…

  • Soaking lentils improves digestion and nutrition absorption as well as neutralizing lectins and phytates that may cause gas and bloating. I always soak my lentils.
  • Soaking lentils also reduces its cooking time. It also brings prana (life) into the legume.

How to Cook French Lentils

Cooking lentils is very simple. It’s the same for French lentils, beluga lentils, green or brown lentils:

  • Rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and pick them over before you cook them. Discard any shriveled lentils in addition to any little stones you find.
  • Soak – this is optional, recommend for better digestion. Soak for at least for hour or up to 24 hours.
  • Simmer in water or broth. Unlike when you’re cooking couscous or quinoa, you don’t need to use a specific lentil:cups of water ratio. Just fill a large pot halfway with water, bring it to a boil, and add the lentils. Simmer until they’re tender. The specific cook time will depend on what type of lentils you’re cooking usually 15-30 minutes.
  • How to know when lentils are done? The best way to check whether lentils are cooked is simply to taste them. They should be tender to the bite. For lentil salad a little crunchy is best. If you would like your lentils to be softer, just simmer them a few minutes longer until they reach your desired consistency.
Mediterranean French Lentil Salad serving bowl, 2 plates with forks

How To Make

This is an easy to make lentil salad recipe. Follow these steps:

  1. Cook the lentils. Rinse lentils (soaked or unsoaked). Add to a medium saucepan. Add water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes if soaked, 30 minutes if unsoaked.
  2. Prepare the dressing. While lentils are cooking combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined.
  3. Chop the vegetables and set aside.
  4. Season the lentils.When the lentils are cooked, drain them in a colander and let cool 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing, pour 3/4 of it over the lentils and toss until well mixed.
  5. Combine. Let the lentils cool completely. Add the the red onion, cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes and olives. Mix to combine.
  6. Add herbs and greens: If serving right away, add arugula, mint and parsley. Toss to coat with the dressing.
  7. Top with feta or vegan cheese if using.
  8. Taste and serve. Taste to adjust salt and pepper.  Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3-4 days.

NOTE: If not serving right away add greens and fresh herbs just before serving.

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad chopped vegetables ini bowl unmixed

Storing

This salad will keep for 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It’s a great make-ahead-meal to prepare on Sunday for easy healthy lunches or a side dish throughout the week.

If you’re not eating it the same day you prepare it, leave out the arugula and fresh herbs. Add just before serving. It will taste fresher. The salad without the arugula and herbs will stay fresh for 5-6 days.

Mediterranean French Lentil Salad close up

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use different kinds of lentils ?

Yes, if not using French lentils the next best thing is black beluga lentils, they are very similar. You can also use green or brown lentils but they will have a slightly different texture and taste. Don’t let them overcook and get mushy. Red lentils will not work.

Can I use canned lentils?

Yes absolutely! Drain all the liquid. Be sure to wash the canned lentils to remove the salt.

How long does this salad last?

Once you toss it all together it will stay fresh for 3 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. If you want to keep it longer, leave out the arugula and herbs. It will stay fresh for 5-6 days. Add greens right before serving. If you bring it to a party or put it in a jar to take to work with you, it will be good for 4-6 hours at room temperature.

How do you make it gluten free and dairy free?

The salad is gluten-free as written! For dairy free leave out the feta or replace it with a vegan cheese (see recommended brands above).

I love this salad. It makes me happy to have a delicious, satisfying grab-and-go meal that fills my body with with nutrients and protein. It’s also a great side dish with fish, chicken or vegetables.

If you like this recipe you may also enjoy these other bean and grain salads:

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Mediterranean French Lentil Salad


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3 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Ingrid
  • Total Time: 0 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

This healthy French lentil salad is full of mediterranean vegetables with fresh summery flavors and textures. You can prepare all of the ingredients while the lentils cook.  If keeping for more than 3 days store the arugula and herbs separate from rest. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2/3 cup French lentils (dry/uncooked) or black beluga lentils (soaked overnight)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup cucumbers, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup red peppers,cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup tomatoes cut into cubes or cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pitted and sliced Kalamata olives, 10 olives
  • 2 cups lightly packed chopped arugula or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Dressing


Instructions

  1. Pick through the lentils and remove any tiny rocks. Pour the lentils into a strainer and rinse under running water.
  2. If soaking, soak for 4-24 hours. (see notes above)
  3. To cook the lentils. Rinse lentils, (soaked or unsoaked). Add to a medium saucepan. Add water and bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 15 minutes if soaked, 30 minutes if unsoaked. Taste to see if they’e done. (see notes above)
  5. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing, combine all the ingredients and whisk together.
  6. Chop the vegetables and set aside.
  7. When the lentils are cooked, drain them in a colander and let cool 5 minutes. Place into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing again, pour 3/4 of the dressing over the lentils and toss until well mixed.
  8. Let the lentils cool completely. Add the red onion, cucumbers, red peppers, tomatoes, and olives. Mix to combine
  9. Add the arugula and fresh herbs.
  10. Toss to coat the greens with the dressing. Add more dressing to taste (I use all of it).
  11. Taste, add salt and pepper if necessary.
  12. Top with feta or vegan cheese if desired.
  13. Serve and enjoy.
  14. If not serving right away add greens and fresh herbs just before serving. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minuts
  • Category: Salad, Side Dish
  • Method: Simmer, Chop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Dairy Free Option

4 Comments

  • Sheila says:

    The dressing is missing something. Perhaps its that there is no lemon in the Lemon Dressing?






    • Ingrid says:

      Hi Sheila, Sorry about that, I originally made it with lemon juice and it was good but then I made it with red wine vinegar and liked it better. Thanks for pointing that out to me.You can use either one. I fixed the recipe so it is more correct.

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