Warm Lentil Salad with Swiss Chard, Feta and Red Wine-Black Pepper Vinaigrette

December 28, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 2-4 as a light meal
Author Notes

For my family's Christmas dinner, my youngest brother, home from college, was in charge of the salad. He made amazing, taste-bud tingling, red wine-black pepper vinaigrette that he had enjoyed at a friend's house on Thanksgiving. His dressing was bold, but had great flavor; I thought with a little tweaking, it would be the perfect match for a warm lentil salad. I love eating lentils with swiss chard and feta - something about the combination makes the whole much greater and better than any single part. This is delicious as a light vegetarian dinner option, but is equally good with a link of Italian sausage, if you are looking for more protein. (The first photo above, includes sausage, while the second is the vegetarian version). NOTE: This dressing is purposely under-salted to accommodate the feta and sausage (if using). If you are making the dressing for a green salad, adjust salt to taste accordingly. - gingerroot —gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

Gingerroot’s Warm Lentil Salad was a huge hit. It is a great balance; the nuttiness from the lentils, salty feta, kick from the spicy Italian sausage, and then the chard leaves and crunchy stems all worked beautifully together. I did add just a bit more vinegar than called for but that was the only adjustment. Everyone in Ginger’s kitchen (arielleclementine, Helenthenanny, Sagegreen and me—oh, and of course Ginger) was making yum noises while we ate, and I think we are all planning to make it again soon!! —aargersi

What You'll Need
  • For the Red Wine-Black Pepper Viniagrette:
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced sweet onion (trimmed, thin wedges)
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled, smashed with flat side of a knife
  • 2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
  • 3 fresh sweet basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot, peeled, rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • For the Lentil Salad:
  • 1 cup black Beluga lentils (or Du Puy lentils - you want one that will hold its shape after cooking), rinsed, picked over
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 large rainbow Swiss chard leaves, with stems (ends trimmed)
  • 1 link Italian sausage (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons Red Wine-Black Pepper vinaigrette
  • plus 1/2 T olive oil if not using sausage
  1. In a 10-inch skillet, start to make the vinaigrette by heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add sliced onion wedges, garlic clove, and slowly caramelize, turning down heat if necessary to prevent burning. Cook for about 10 minutes, until onion is fragrant, golden brown and slightly stringy. Remove skillet from heat.
  2. While onion and garlic are caramelizing, start your lentils. In a large saucepan bring lentils and water to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat and slowly simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and leave lentils covered for 5 minutes more. At this point, I removed the lid and left the lentils in the warm cooking water (pot on the burner) until I was ready to put the salad together, and they were perfectly cooked. If you are wary, you can drain them, but lentils may not be as warm when you put the salad together.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, finish the vinaigrette. Transfer caramelized onion and garlic to a blender (set skillet aside - you will use it again in step 5). Add the vinegar, basil, Dijon mustard, shallot, ground black pepper, dried thyme and puree until combined. Carefully drizzle oil in through the lid, while blender is on (with one hand drizzling the oil in, I used my other hand to shield the top of the blender, preventing dressing splatter), pureeing vinaigrette. Scrape dressing with a spatula in to a container with a lid. Add a pinch of sea salt. Shake and set aside.
  4. Separate chard stems from leaves. Chop stems and set aside. Chop leaves crosswise, into thin ribbons. If you are including sausage in your salad, continue with step 5. If you are not including sausage, skip 5 and proceed with step 6.
  5. Heat skillet over medium heat. Remove sausage from casing and cook, crumbling meat with a wooden spoon. Cook until no longer pink. Transfer to a bowl lined with a paper towel. Add chard stems and cook in sausage grease for a minute, stirring. Add chopped leaves and cook for a minute more, until bright green and beginning to wilt. Remove skillet from heat. Skip to step 7.
  6. Heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chard stems and cook for a minute, stirring. Add chopped leaves and cook for a minute more, until bright green and beginning to wilt. Remove skillet from heat.
  7. Drain lentils and transfer to a large serving bowl. Carefully fold in chard (and sausage, if using). Fold in the feta to taste (I used 2 1/2 tablespoons). Top with dressing to taste (I used 2 tablespoons) and fold to combine evenly. Serve immediately and enjoy.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • hardlikearmour
  • aargersi
  • Sagegreen
  • gingerroot

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

10 Reviews

Meredisu June 9, 2011
This was even tastier than I imagined it would be. The vinaigrette is outstanding. Thank you for this recipe, it's a keeper!
gingerroot March 1, 2012
I'm just finding your comment now...thanks for letting me know, I'm glad you enjoyed it!
johnaka January 7, 2011
I made this last night. It was pretty simple, but found the vinaigrette to be a little lacking. Was it supposed to have actual red wine? I added a little bit of lemon juice to add more tartness. I also thought that the greens could be doubled, but found the use of stems to be commendable. So often the stems get thrown out. Thanks for submitting such a healthy and delicious dish.
gingerroot January 7, 2011
Thanks so much for your great feedback, johnaka. You bring up a good point - I used some really tangy, aged red wine vinegar that I picked up in Napa last year. I did not want people to feel like they could not make it if they did not have aged red wine vinegar, so suggested using a good quality one instead. Adding lemon juice was a terrific idea to boost the dressing! Personally I love how chard stems add a crunchy contrast to cooked leaves.
hardlikearmour December 28, 2010
I always love your recipes gingerroot, and this is no exception.
gingerroot December 29, 2010
Aw, thanks for the lovely comment, hardlikearmour. Your Sausage and Lentil Gumbo looks and sounds amazing. Perfect for rainy season in Honolulu. : )
aargersi December 28, 2010
Oh YUM! Adding this to my list o lentils to try!!!! Love the chard in there ...
aargersi January 9, 2011
I was right - it is SOOOOO good. We absolutley loved this - crunchy stems, salty feta, good spicy sausage ... a 100% hit!!!
gingerroot January 12, 2011
Thanks Abbie! So glad you enjoyed it.
Sagegreen December 28, 2010
Sounds delicious warm for winter.