Make Ahead

Romantic French Lentil Salad

December 26, 2010
6 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Serves 6 to 8 as a first course
Author Notes

My husband and I first had this traditional French lentil salad in Le Puy, where most of France's lentil crop is grown. It uses the small, dark lentils you'll find in gourmet stores labeled "Lentilles du Puy." (My husband first thought the town was famous for its contact lenses, which are also called "lentilles" in French.) The restaurant in Le Puy where we first ate this salad is also the place where he asked me to marry him—thus the recipe's name. —ErikaKerekes

Test Kitchen Notes

ErikaKerekes's salad is simple and focused with a nice balance of flavors and textures. The zingy mustard and lemon and hints of garlic and bacon are well matched with the lentils. It makes great leftovers for lunch. —suchachef

What You'll Need
  • 500 grams lentilles du Puy
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley, etc.)
  1. Rinse the lentils in a strainer and pick out any rocks—yes, sometimes there are rocks, and your teeth will appreciate the two minutes it takes to look for them.
  2. Put the lentils in a saucepan, cover with water by a few inches, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer the lentils about half an hour, or until al dente. You don't want them mushy, and the exact cooking time will depend on how long they've been sitting on the shelf in the store, so start checking them after about 20 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, mix together the lemon juice and zest, garlic, mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper in a big bowl.
  4. Drain the lentils when they're ready and add them to the vinaigrette. You want to do this while the lentils are hot so they absorb the flavors of the dressing. Add the chopped bacon and toss everything together.
  5. Wait 10 minutes, until the lentils have cooled slightly, and then add the fresh herbs. (They will wilt less, and lose less of their color, if you let the salad cool before adding them.)
  6. Let the lentils stand at room temperature for an hour or two before serving.
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6 Reviews

cookcooks January 2, 2023
This recipe made me a convert! I have avoided lentils for years because, let's face it, unattractive. I finally broke down and made this because of the minimal amount of ingredients and time. Wow, now I love lentils and can't wait to try more. My rule of thumb is to always make a recipe as written the first time. I can never understand how you can you give a review of a recipe if you change everything. OK, to be honest I almost always add more garlic, LOL. This recipe if definitely a keeper. You won't be sorry you tried will make you into a lentil convert too :-)
Susie January 19, 2018
This was a great recipe, thank you! I used tempeh instead of bacon which turned out to be a great hint of smokiness, added a little bit of kale since my local green grocer only had half the herbs, and added a shallot to the dressing since I don’t have *nice* olive oil. It’s made for a very filling and healthful lunch for three days that fits my grad school budget!
bugbitten September 14, 2011
My market does not sell packets of lentilles du Puy in grams. Should I opt for one or three lemons?
bugbitten September 16, 2011
Sorry, my first comment wound up missing a sentence, which was about brining. I followed your recipe with what I had on hand. Delicious!
drbabs December 28, 2010
I love the name, too!
dymnyno December 26, 2010
This sounds fantastic...I can imagine that the fatty bacon plays well with the lentils and the vinaigrette.