- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
While I myself am guilty of so often choosing pasta or chickpeas over lentils, they truly are the platonic ideal for warm-weather picnics and outdoor dinners. French-style green lentils in particular have the ability to keep their shape when cooked, but stay creamy on the inside—making them perfect candidates for soaking up a punchy dressing, like this one with whole, chopped lemon, crushed red pepper flakes, and toasted and raw garlic. While this is excellent served immediately after making, it can also go the distance and be served at room temp (the lentils will further marinate in the lemony, garlicky juices from the chopped cucumber as the salad sits).
It doesn’t need more than what’s listed below, but if you’d like to turn it into more of a main event, pairing with a spicy sausage or creamy, crumbled cheese would be nice.
A quick note on the lentils: Black or brown lentils would work in a pinch here, but do not attempt red or yellow lentils, which will fall apart (rather than stay whole) after being cooked. —Alison Roman
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is shared in partnership with Champagne Lallier. Their bright, citrusy R.018 Brut Champagne sparkles with fresh aromas of lemon and lively ripe fruit flavors, which pairs beautifully with this crunchy-crispy dish from Alison Roman. Whether you’re planning a picnic lunch with friends or dinner at home, our limited-edition Food52 x Champagne Lallier Perfect Picnique kit has *almost* everything you need for this summery situation—just add a few fresh veggies and a loaf of French bread. —The Editors
- For the lentil salad:
1 1/2 cups
dried French-style green lentils
olive oil, plus more to serve
cloves garlic, divided (6 thinly sliced, 1 finely grated)
crushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
small Persian cucumbers or 1 large hothouse cucumber, coarsely chopped
lemon with peel still on, finely chopped (seeds removed)
soft mixed herbs with tender leaves and stems, coarsely chopped (I used cilantro, dill, and parsley)
Flaky sea salt
- Optional toppings:
Feta or soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
Castelvetrano olives, crushed
Sumac, for sprinkling
Grilled sausage, such as merguez, on the side
- Cook the lentils in a large pot of salted, boiling water until just tender, about 18 to 22 minutes. Drain and set aside (do not rinse).
- Meanwhile, heat ⅓ cup olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and cook, letting the garlic toast in the oil until golden-brown and tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and remove from heat.
- Place lentils in a large bowl and drizzle with the spicy toasted garlic oil. Toss to combine and season again with kosher salt, black pepper, and more crushed red pepper flakes, if you like.
- Toss cucumbers in a medium bowl with remaining grated garlic clove and finely chopped lemon, and season with kosher salt and lots of black pepper. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to get the juices from the cucumber and lemon flowing (they’ll create a liquid that you’ll use to dress the lentils further).
- Spoon the cucumber-lemon mixture onto the lentils, along with all their juices. Scatter with herbs, followed by flaky sea salt, black pepper, and a good drizzle of olive oil.
- Optional: Scatter the salad with feta, olives, and/or sumac, if using; serve with sausage alongside, if you like.