Patricia Wells' Green Lentil Salad

By • January 8, 2013 • 30 Comments

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Author Notes: At a glance, nothing seems special about this recipe. The genius lies in Patricia Wells' perfect, restrained proportions, and its utter simplicity. They require patience: when you taste them just after mixing, you will think they're bland and watery. But don't give up on them! Let the vinaigrette seep in for ten minutes. Salt judiciously, tasting as you go. All of a sudden, you'll have a hard time putting down your fork. Recipe adapted very slightly from Bistro Cooking (Workman Publishing, 1989)Genius Recipes

Serves 8

  • 1 pound imported French green or brown lentils
  • 1 medium onion, halved and stuck with 2 cloves
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse lentils and discard any pebbles. Place lentils, onion, garlic and bay leaf in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until lentils are tender, 25-35 minutes. Add liquid as needed.
  3. Discard onion, garlic and bay leaf and drain any excess liquid. Whisk vinegar, oil and salt together in a small bowl. Pour over warm lentils and toss.
  4. Before serving, season with pepper and additional salt, if necessary. Serve warm.
Jump to Comments (30)

Tags: lentils

Comments (30) Questions (1)

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3 months ago Spyan

How is this "patricia wells"'s recipe? This is a classic french lentille salad, it can be bought in the cheapest restaurants around (in france). She didn't invent anything, she just copied a recipe anyone around here knows how to do. PS : use red onions.

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8 months ago édit

I grew up with green lentils (in France) and to me they are the best. They do not become mushy unless you really overcook them. I make my lentil salad with lime juice, olive oil and chopped fresh cilantro. Delicieux!

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9 months ago ellenu

I had high expectations for this, used very good quality French lentils, red wine vinegar and olive oil and was disappointed to find it so bland.

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over 1 year ago icuqt3.14

I've just made these again for the third time and was so excited to use my new favorite KIMBERLY organic red wine vinegar...boy, does that stuff make da beans sing! I love lentils and this is so good...subbed a shallot for the onion though...

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Just love the suggestions of others here to serve this as a side with salmon. Sounds perfect! And so easy, too. ;o)

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over 1 year ago icuqt3.14

I like the idea of using these in a kale soup!

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over 1 year ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

There was a bit of discussion on the Genius features post when this recipe was first introduced, regarding how disappointed some people were with the lentils the day after they were made. I.e., the leftovers just aren't as good. The solution is so simple. Once the lentils are cooked, set aside the ones you don’t plan to eat right away, but do so in their broth, with the bay leaf, garlic and onion. That way, they’ll have the benefit of a continuing infusion. Cover and store until about 30 minutes before you’re ready to eat them (on Day 2 or 3 . . . I typically freeze legumes after Day 3.) Then, take them out of the fridge and warm them up, very thoroughly, in the broth, with the bay leaf, garlic and onion. Actually, there probably won’t be much broth, as they legumes will continue to soak it up. Drain, remove the bay leaf, garlic and onion, and continue with Step 3 of the recipe, as you did on Day 1, adding the vinegar and oil and letting the lentils sit for at least 20 minutes. I tried this yesterday and it worked like a charm. Enjoy!! ;o)

Stringio

over 1 year ago layne.dorning

Substitute lime juice for the red wine vinegar - divine!

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over 1 year ago fearlessem

Very tasty. 25 to 35 minutes was way too long though -- I set my timer for 20, and using french green lentils they were already on the edge of overcooked when the timer rang. I had these with a baguette, hard boiled egg, and some good canned tuna in oil. Yum.

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almost 2 years ago Sweet sue

I had a similar problem with the liquid not absorbing, and cooked them, and cooked them some more, but mine didn't get soft enough. so I added more water and cooked some more. They were still not as soft as I'd like. I'll give it one more try.

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

It sounds like your lentils may have been old -- is that possible? Sometimes, if they've been in your pantry (or on the store shelf) too long, they're very reluctant to soften.

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almost 2 years ago char&feather

I served this last night alongside broiled salmon filets. I liked the flavor but I feel the lentils turned out just a tad too mushy. The water didn't completely absorb after 35 minutes of simmering so I strained the excess. Did I cook them too long?

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Yes, I think so -- sorry about that! I will clarify the instructions. Next time, I'd check by tasting a few.

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almost 2 years ago lkbee

How many cups = 1 pound of lentils?

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

It will depend a little on what type of lentils you use, but 1 pound should be approximately 2 1/3 cups of lentils.

Stringio

almost 2 years ago MaryJo Zerr

This is just delicious!

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almost 2 years ago ejm

just made this, realized after ready to make the vinagrette that I had no red wine vinegar - used applecider vinegar and it is great. Thanks!

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almost 2 years ago Kimbees54

I'm eating it now! Very good, so simple. Tonight we're having it with pork tenderloin and tomorrow I have a little piece of salmon for lunch. As a bean freak, I fully approve. The flavors are pretty complex for a very simple recipe.

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almost 2 years ago DeirdreMS

LOVELY!

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almost 2 years ago MBR

This excellent as is and is indeed a v. good base for other things such as 1/2 cup stock, 1/2 cup cream, 2 star anise simmered/slightly reduced for 20 minutes and then 1/2 cup of the lentils w/salt as you like it. Really good and might be even better w/red lentils.

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almost 2 years ago cookbookchick

Cooking this right now -- smells wonderful!

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almost 2 years ago Ascender

This is very similar to a salad I've made for years. I sliver a chili pepper and toss it in after draining the lentils to add a hint of spice. The salad improves as it stands and is even better the next day.

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almost 2 years ago AusTex

How much liquid do I simmer the lentils in? also can I make these in a rice cooker or do they have to be done in the open? Thanks

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Just cover the lentils with water by 1 inch. I haven't tried making these in a rice cooker -- maybe someone else could weigh in?

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almost 2 years ago Luisa in Dallas

I plan to make this recipe in the rice cooker. My rice-cooker lentil recipe is 1/2 cup lentils, 1 cup water, 1/16 t. salt, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1/2 t. dried thyme. (Later I add a vinaigrette and a little feta to make a salad). I may need to cut your recipe in half as I'm not sure if the rice cooker will hold a whole pound of lentils.

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over 1 year ago beejay45

I do lentils in my rice cooker all the time. It's one of the small ones, holds a little over three cups. A one pound bag of lentils works fine. Put the lentils in, add liquid (I like broth) until it passes the magic finger test, i.e., with the tip of your ring finger just touching the top of the lentils/rice/grains, the liquid should come up to the first joint. I learned this from a Chinese friend who uses the same method when cooking rice (at least) on the stove. It is magic!

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almost 2 years ago Sweet sue

Sweet onion or regular yellow?

Miglore

almost 2 years ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Regular yellow, but I'm sure sweet onion would be good too if that's what you've got.