Peter Miller's Lentils Folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

By • April 10, 2014 19 Comments

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Author Notes: Peter Miller says, "Make this with a light touch so you can taste the different ingredients involved. And serve it in smaller portions than you might imagine—let people come back for seconds. It is a nod to pesto and a salute to yogurt.

You can buy baby spinach year-round. But if it is spring, buy true baby spinach, the smaller leaves of the early variety; they will have a subtler taste and texture. Wash and dry either type well; the leaves will not chop or tear cleanly if still damp." Adapted slightly from Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal (Harry N. Abrams, 2014).
Genius Recipes

Serves 4

At home

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils (small green Puy, or any other that will hold its shape)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

At the office

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, sliced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. At home: Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts or walnuts and cook until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Lay them out on a wooden cutting board to cool, then chop them roughly to the size of the lentils.
  2. If your knife is sharp enough to slice the spinach and basil leaves without bruising them, gently cut them into bite-size pieces. Otherwise, tear them by hand.
  3. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach, basil, parsley, and garlic (note: If you'd like the spinach and basil to hold their green form better, add them toward the end instead). Squeeze the lemon into the lentils, mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, then slowly pour in the oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt and 2 good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the roasted nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil. The dish is now ready to serve.
  4. The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar or container in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.
  5. At the shop: For lunch, bring the lentils and greens close to room temperature before serving. They can go on a slice of buttered (and perhaps grilled) bread, or on a lettuce leaf as a salad. Top the lentils with a squeeze of lemon juice, some Parmesan, and a final grind of fresh pepper. Sometimes, if there are any lentils left after lunch, we serve them as a late-day snack, with a little extra salt at the end.

More Great Recipes: Lentils|Vegetables|Appetizers|Entrees|Salads

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Comments (19) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago Jennifer Strong

I've had this on my mind since it popped up in my email and finally made it tonight. So. Damn. Good. I'm hooked on lentil salads any way I can get them and this one did not disappoint. Can't wait to vary it from time to time, but loved it w/du puy lentils and the best olive oil I have on hand. Thanks so much! I'm also putting Lunch at the Shop on my list of cookbooks to aquire.

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about 1 month ago Diana

I just made this for my lunches for the next few days and it's great. I substituted purslane for spinach since I'm not a big fan of spinach.

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about 1 month ago Ruth McAllister

I might be tempted to add some cooked quinoa to this, too. Thanks!

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about 1 month ago Anna Biton

I don't have straight baby spinach but have 50/50 spinach and spring mix, or a bunch of regular sized kale. Which do you think would be better? Would the spring mix be likely to wilt too much?

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about 1 month ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

I would go for the kale and/or regular spinach (if it's not already mixed into the spring mix)! Spring mix would wilt and disappear in the salad.

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about 1 month ago Jennifer Strong

Just made this and I think it'd be great w/the kale or anything a bit hardier than spring mix, but that said, try mixing as written, omitting the greens but adding the herbs then serve over your spring mix/blend. I will be making it that way from now on, spooning the yogurty mix over whatever greens I have around.

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about 1 month ago Jason Oliver Lampke

I'm a teacher in Spain. They serve this same salad for lunch. Seeing it described as "genius" on Slate made me laugh. It's a lentil salad. A school lunch.

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about 1 month ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I can tell this is a great recipe because I'm already thinking of ways I would make it "just a little different" to vary it. I LOVE this kind of lunch.

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about 1 month ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Tell me more!

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about 1 year ago Josie Marsh

This is great. Only serves two when this lactating mama has it for lunch though :) I had it on homemade olive oil toasted sourdough bread.

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about 1 year ago Count Mockula

I'm about to make this for the second time. It's filling, nutritious, and tasty!

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about 1 year ago Brooke J

Made this last night for Mama's and Kids night at my friend's house. We had a vegetarian in the group but everybody really enjoyed it, including myself! Great recipe. Thank you!

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over 1 year ago anntruelove

What kind of lentils are recommended for this recipe?

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over 1 year ago Mer.

Me, too, what kind of lentils are best?

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about 1 month ago Kristen Miglore

Kristen is the Executive Editor of Food52

Just seeing this question! Peter Miller likes to use small Le Puy green lentils, but really any lentil that will hold its shape decently will work -- or even small cooked beans.

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about 1 month ago Jennifer Strong

I use de puy (addicted to their peppery flavor and love how they hold their shape) but wouldn't hesitate to use whatever I had on hand, minus red.

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over 1 year ago Alyssa Kollmeyer

I was skeptical that this salad would keep for 3 days, but it really did! It was delicious as an office lunch (I scooped it up with Food Should Taste Good chips). And we ate it for dinner again with some extra walnuts on top. Healthy and delicious! And to cut down on prep time I used Melissa's pre-steamed lentils and it came out beautifully. This will be added to my rotation for sure!

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over 1 year ago Emily

We made this for Easter with less yogurt and pine nuts and more lemon zest to make it more of a salad, less of a spread. It was delicious! Thanks so much for sharing. I think this will be a regular dish in my house.

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over 1 year ago mauigirlcooks

This sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing!