Make Ahead

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

April 10, 2014
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Jen S
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Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

28 Reviews

Katie April 12, 2023
This is so simple and delicious - I add lemon zest, sometimes swap in dill for parsley or almonds for walnuts. Blood orange olive oil for regular, etc.
really health and fresh.
Akané April 21, 2022
Super delicious! 😋
I halved the lemon juice and added a bit of preserved lemon I found in the back of the fridge for more fresh flavours without sourness.
Definitely will make again!
I read someone’s review saying this is what they serve for school lunch in Spain, lucky Spanish kids!
whym April 4, 2022
This is sooooooo good on toast, and super easy to make! I added some minced onion to the lentils when I was cooking them and I added a poached egg yolk for some richness. I'm definitely adding this recipe to my regular rotation of easy vegetarian meals
butterscotch August 13, 2021
So good. I used a mix of baby kale and arugula in place of the spinach and small black lentils. The toasty walnuts really make the dish. I wouldn't consider using pine nuts (not enough flavor or texture), but I think either pecans or almonds would be great, as long as they're well-toasted.
russeaime January 29, 2018
I made this tonight for dinner and really like the idea of combining lentils, yogurt, and greens (three of my favorite foods!), and then served it over some red Bibb lettuce. I did change things up a little and threw in some beet greens to the spinach. I am bad about measuring greens and found I had too many so added 1 cup more lentils, but kept everything else the same. This made it more like a salad than a dip. I also added some sumac, Aleppo pepper, and lemon zest at the end. I'm also thinking of tossing in some leftover roasted romanesco for lunch tomorrow.
Lisa R. August 15, 2017
Looks good for lunch!
Jana E. January 9, 2017
Yum! I skipped the final 1/4 cup olive oil in the interest of saving calories. I toasted the garlic with the walnuts. And to cook the lentils, I sauteed them for a few minutes with a half tablespoon of olive oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cumin before boiling. Really satisfying as a lunch all on its own!
lilyjean May 1, 2016
I adore this recipe and have shared it many times! Thanks for one for the arsenal.
ItsBrooksie April 27, 2016
I made this yesterday and it's very good. I wonder if it would benefit from a touch of sweetness - maybe a little bit of honey? I think I'd also reduce the amount of yogurt next time like someone else mentioned - it has the consistency of a spread as is.
Jen S. July 31, 2015
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.
Diana July 26, 2015
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.
Ruth M. July 26, 2015
I might be tempted to add some cooked quinoa to this, too. Thanks!
Anna B. July 26, 2015
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?
Kristen M. July 26, 2015
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.
Jen S. July 31, 2015
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.
Jason O. July 25, 2015
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.
ChefJune July 22, 2015
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.
Kristen M. July 23, 2015
Tell me more!
Josie M. July 24, 2014
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.
Count M. June 20, 2014
I'm about to make this for the second time. It's filling, nutritious, and tasty!
Brooke J. June 7, 2014
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!
anntruelove April 25, 2014
What kind of lentils are recommended for this recipe?
Mer. May 6, 2014
Me, too, what kind of lentils are best?
Kristen M. July 21, 2015
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.
Jen S. July 31, 2015
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.
Alyssa K. April 25, 2014
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!