Lentil Salad

Homemade lentil salad with quinoa, fresh vegetables and herbs.

This lentil salad is a riff on my French grandmother’s lentil salad recipe. It’s made with French lentils. (a.k.a De Puy lentils, a type of green lentils), herbs and quinoa dressed in a simple shallot vinaigrette. The quinoa is my addition, but it’s delicious and gives this French lentil salad more texture and nutrition.

Simmering broth with herbs.

Both of my French grandparents were fantastic cooks. They prepared everything from scratch and always cooked in the French style.

I love French food because it’s what I’ve eaten for much of my life. It wasn’t gourmet, 5-star cooking, but traditional French home cooking, like a slow-simmered coq au vin recipe or a classic French onion soup.

Accras de morue is the unofficial food of my mother’s side of the family and lentils were a staple side dish for every oven-roasted chicken or pork roast my grandmother ever served.

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This lentil salad has a French influence with a few American twists and it makes a delicious vegetarian meal or side dish.

Why this recipe works:

  • It has great mouth feel, from the nutty grains of quinoa to the plush, creamy lentils.
  • The shallot vinaigrette adds a tangy quality to the French lentil salad.
  • It has a healthy blend of carbs, protein and fiber to keep you satiated longer.
  • You can enjoy it warm, at room temperature or chilled.
  • This lentil salad has the same comfort-food qualities of a rich mac and cheese without the guilt.
  • It can be made a day or two ahead.


  • French De Puy Lentils – De Puy lentils are about ⅓ the size of regular lentils, with firmer skins that hold their shape and stay intact when cooked. That’s the main reason I use the French lentils for this salad, because brown, red or yellow lentils break down too readily.
  • Vegetable Broth – You can use my homemade vegetable broth from scraps or a low-sodium store-bought version.
  • Water – for cooking the lentils and the quinoa.
  • Bay Leaves – I use two types: ground and whole. If you can’t easily find ground bay leaves, you can add an extra 1-2 whole leaves.
  • Fresh Thyme – I often use a bundle of fresh herbs when simmering legumes; tie them with a string and throw them into the pot. You can use ½ teaspoon of dried thyme if you don’t have fresh.
  • Mirepoix – A combination of carrots, celery and onion and the basis for many French dishes.
  • Olive Oil – Don’t use a fancy finishing oil, just your everyday olive oil for cooking.
  • Quinoa – I used tri-color quinoa for this lentil salad, but you can also use plain or red quinoa.
  • Tomato – I used plum tomatoes, but you can use beefsteak, chopped cherry tomatoes or other varieties, just be sure to remove the watery seed pockets before adding them to the salad.
  • Parsley – I used Italian flat leaf parsley, but curly parsley works well too.
  • Shallot – a cross between garlic and onions, shallots add a pungent bite to the vinaigrette and the lentil salad recipe.
  • Red Wine Vinegar – This is the acid in the dish and it’s vital because otherwise, the combination of legumes and grains would be flat and uninspired.
  • Dijon Mustard – this French mustard is enhanced with white wine. I use it to emulsify vinaigrettes.
  • Kosher Salt – I like Diamond Crystal kosher salt because the flakes are larger, but less dense and salty than an equal measure of Morton’s. If you have Morton’s, use a little less salt and taste for seasoning as you go.
  • Black Pepper – Freshly ground is best as it will have a sharper, more aromatic bite.
dried French Lentils.

Cooking lentils is very straightforward; just simmer until tender. In this recipe, most, if not all of the liquid will be absorbed by the dried beans.

Step-by-step instructions:   

  1. Bring the vegetable stock, water, ground, whole bay leaf, and thyme bundle to a boil in a small saucepan.
  2. Add the De Puy lentils, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes until the legumes are tender and the liquid is absorbed. Remove the lid and let the lentils cool and evaporate any excess moisture.
  3. In a medium saucepan, saute the carrots, celery and onions over medium heat in olive oil until sightly softened.
  4. Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with cool running water. (This helps to remove bitterness from the grain.) Don’t use a colander, as the quinoa seeds will drain right through the larger holes.
  5. Add the quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes until the quinoa is tender, and the spiral germ separates and curls around the seed.
  6. Remove from the heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Let cool with the lid off the pot for excess moisture to evaporate, and the grains can cool.
  7. While the lentils and quinoa are cooling, assemble the shallot vinaigrette in a small bowl by combining the ingredients and whisking until they are emulsified.
  8. Once the legumes and grains have cooled and are pretty “dry,” combine them in a large bowl with chopped, seeded tomato and parsley. Gently toss to combine.
  9. Add about three tablespoons of the shallot dressing and gently toss together. If it needs more dressing, add 1-2 tablespoons at a time and taste after each addition. (any extra vinaigrette can be used for a green salad.
Simmering carrots, celery and onions in the broth with quinoa.


  • The key to making the lentil salad is cooking the legumes and quinoa separately and letting them cool with the lid off the pans, to allow excess moisture to evaporate. If you skip that step, the steamy lentils and quinoa would be too wet and the salad will be mushy and goopy.Letting them cool and air dry like this, dries them out a bit and makes them easier to toss together without being sticky or gunky.
The cooked quinoa and vegetables.


  • Add crumbled feta cheese (about a cup) to the finished dish for another creamy, tangy component.
  • For more fresh veggies, add seeded chopped cucumber, and red bell pepper cut into a ¼” dice.
  • If you have an herb garden, add a few tablespoons each of fresh mint, and fresh basil.
  • If you don’t have shallots for the dressing, swap for two garlic cloves instead.
Cooked lentils in a pot.


  • Store the lentil salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To serve, allow the dish to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to take the chill off. The salad will be more flavorful this way.


  • I don’t recommend freezing this recipe, it’s best eaten when fresh.
Making the shallot dressing for the lentil salad.


How long can you keep lentil salad in the fridge.

This lentil salad recipe should last for 5 days in the fridge.

Can lentils be eaten cold?

This lentil salad can be eaten slightly warm, at room temperature or cool (letting it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before enjoying). It can be eaten cold, but the flavors will be muted.

Is it ok to eat lentils without cooking?

Since you rarely find fresh lentils (most being sold dried), you’ll want to cook them before eating.

Combining the lentils, diced tomatoes, and quinoa in a bowl.

What our tasters said:

“I love the flavors and texture of this lentil quinoa salad. That vinaigrette really adds a nice tangy quality too.” — Bernadette

“I can’t wait to make this for my family. They will love it!” — Jean

Gently tossing the lentil salad.

What goes with lentil salad:

A wooden bowl filled with lentil quinoa salad.

More legume and lentil recipes to try:

A pile of the legume salad with fresh parsley garnish.

More whole grain salads you’ll love:

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French lentil salad served cold or at room temperature.
Print Pin
4.24 from 13 votes

Tangy Lentils and Quinoa

Lentils are easy to fix and they make a great side dish or vegetarian main.  The tangy dressing really livens this dish.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword lentils, quinoa
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6


For the Lentils

  • 1 cup homemade vegetable broth
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground bay leaves
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 3-4 whole stems of thyme tied in kitchen string
  • ½ cup de puy french lentils

For the Quinoa

  • 1 large stalk celery diced
  • 2 medium carrots peeled, diced
  • ½ medium yellow onion diced, can use white or red onion as well.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • cups water
  • 1 large ripe plum tomato or half a beefsteak tomato seeded and diced
  • ½ cup parsley chopped

For shallot vinaigrette

  • 2 medium shallots finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly ground



  • In a small saucepan, bring vegetable stock, water, ground bay leaves, whole bay leaf and bunch of time to a boil.
  • Add lentils, cover and simmer about 25-30 minutes – until lentils are tender, but not mushy. Remove from heat and take the lid off the pot so the lentils can cool.  


  • Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with cold running water until the water runs clear.
  • Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrots, and onion, and cook until slightly softened for about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa is tender and has given off its little spiral germ.
  •  Remove from heat and remove the pot’s lid so the quinoa can cool and any excess moisture can evaporate.


  • While quinoa and lentils cool, make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk the shallots, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper until emulsified.


  • In a large bowl, combine lentils, quinoa, chopped tomato, and chopped parsley, and gently toss to combine. Add three tablespoons of the vinaigrette and gently toss with the lentil salad.
  • Taste for seasoning and moisture. If it needs more dressing, add 1-2 tablespoons, tasting after each addition.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.  (Optional – you can sprinkle on some feta cheese or crumbled chevre if desired.)


I usually end up with a little vinaigrette left over, which can be added to a green salad the next day.


Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 396mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3925IU | Vitamin C: 11.8mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2.9mg

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  1. This sounds so good… Do you serve this alone, as a side, or with sides? Would love suggestions for how to incorporate this into a full meal 🙂

    1. This dish works equally well as a side dish to roast or grilled chicken, pork or lamb or as a vegetarian main with a green salad. We also like it when we’re having a picnic or cookout because it travels well.

  2. I just made thus, but haven’t eaten it yet. Should I add the remaining liquid in the lentils to the final product?

    1. One or two tablespoons of liquid would be fine, but don’t put too much — You also have the dressing and you don’t want it to be soupy.

  3. 5 stars
    Love this salad dish. I will make this next week for a Meatless Monday dinner.

    I do have a question for you. How much measures a serving, is it one cup?

    Thank You,

  4. 5 stars
    I love this healthy and mouth-watering recipe, Lisa! I am so hungry after seeing this recipe!

  5. Michelle | The Last Food Blog says:

    5 stars
    This look so refreshing and healthy. I love the combination of flavours, it sounds delicious 🙂

  6. Luci's Morsels says:

    5 stars
    I love all of the colors and textures of this recipe! I am definitely going to have to give this one a try. I love how healthy it is and that it has a good amount of protein to keep me satisfied. I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. 5 stars
    I love discovering delicious recipes for comfort food that does go along with skinny jeans – and this is definitely one of them! Your Tangy Lentils and Quinoa is so wholesome but the flavours you have used are wonderful. Looking forward to giving this recipe a try!

  8. 5 stars
    Mmm who said comfort food can’t be healthy? This looks lovely.