Latin-American French Lentil Salad – Recipe

French lentil salad with Latin-American flavors

Lentil salad went through some bad years in the 80s and 90s, usually flaccid and overdressed, filled with canned vegetables. There was always the shadow of a good, simple, rustic dish there.

I like to make it with French lentils, otherwise known as green lentils. The best ones are from the from the area of Puy. They are a little smaller and rounder than the normal brown lentil, and they hold their shape even when tender, instead of voluntarily pureeing themselves into lentil soup. Another option are the black "beluga" lentils.

Once you have cooked lentils in hand, a salad is a simple thing. You can pick any combination of cooked and raw vegetables that go well together, fresh herbs, and a straightforward dressing of citrus juice and olive oil.

I opted for Latin American flavors this time. with tiny roasted potatoes, cucumber, red onion, avocado, radish, lime juice, and a gilding of ranchero cheese. You could just as easily use lemon instead of lime, feta instead of ranchero, add thyme and oregano and call it Greek.

Latin-American French Lentil Salad
Serves 4 as a main, 8 as a side dish
Vegetarian and gluten-free; vegan if you omit the cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils (lentils de Puy AOC are the best)
  • 1 cup tiny potatoes or cubed larger potatoes
  • 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 6 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small red onion, small dice
  • big handful mint leaves (chopped if large, reserve a few for garnish)
  • big handful parsley leaves (reserve a few for garnish)
  • lime juice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  1. Rinse the lentils and pick them over for stones and debris. In a saucepan, cover them with plenty of water and boil for about 25 minutes until tender but not falling apart. Add more water if needed. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the potatoes with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 F. until tender and browned. You can also do this in a skillet.
  3. Combine the drained lentils, the potatoes, cucumber, radishes, onion, mint and parsley, and 2 teaspoons of salt and toss well.
  4. I dress this salad by eye and taste. Start with the juice of 1 lime and a good glug of olive oil and then toss. You've got it right when there is a slight gloss of dressing but it isn't swimming. Taste and adjust the balance of acidity and salt as needed.
  5. You can refrigerate at this point for a day or two, no problem. Just bring back to room temperature or slightly warmer before serving.
  6. To serve, garnish with the queso fresco, mint and parsley, a nice grind of black pepper, and the avocado.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, September 10th, 2009 in Gluten-Free or modifiable, Recipes, Salads, Vegan or Modifiable.

8 Responses to “Latin-American French Lentil Salad – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    September 10, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    Gorgeous salad! I wish I was having this for lunch today!

  2. Reply
    September 10, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    I keep thinking of lentils lately, and this looks like a great way to enjoy them! Love the toppings.

  3. Reply
    September 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    This looks fantastic! I love a good lentil salad and you are right, it has to be done well or it is bad news. I copied this one for another day. Oh, BTW, I use your lemon salad dressing all the time. So yummy and fresh. You are the master!

  4. Reply
    September 11, 2009 at 7:18 pm #

    Great recipe, an all in one dish!

  5. Reply
    shaina p
    September 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    this recipe was fantastic! we paired it with some homegrown corn (we’re southern folk!) and everyone loved it. we’re foster parents and even our 5 yr-old foster daughter who was raised to be a hardcore meat-eater ate every last bite. :o) it’s b/c of recipes like this that we’re able to influence our children’s healthy eating habits and introduce them to a variety of foods. p.s. — i never would have thought of including cucumbers — genius!!

  6. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 27, 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    Shaina – thanks for the nice note; that is wonderful that you choose to be a
    foster parent, and fantastic that you are teaching her healthy eating

  7. Reply
    September 7, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Wow! This salad is packed with healthy stuff!

  8. Reply
    September 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    This salad is delicious!

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