French Lentil Salad With So Many Herbs Recipe on Food52 (2024)


by: Alison Roman



19 Ratings

  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6

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Author Notes

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

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • For the lentil salad:
  • 1 1/2 cupsdried French-style green lentils
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cupolive oil, plus more to serve
  • 7 cloves garlic, divided (6 thinly sliced, 1 finely grated)
  • 1 teaspooncrushed red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 small Persian cucumbers or 1 large hothouse cucumber, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon with peel still on, finely chopped (seeds removed)
  • 2 cupssoft 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
  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. Optional: Scatter the salad with feta, olives, and/or sumac, if using; serve with sausage alongside, if you like.


  • Salad
  • French
  • Lentil
  • Garlic
  • Cucumber
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Recipe by: Alison Roman

Alison Roman is a cook, writer and author of the bestselling cookbook "Dining In," published by Clarkson Potter in Fall 2017. Her second cookbook "Nothing Fancy," is now available. She is a bi-weekly columnist for the New York Times Cooking section, as well as a monthly contributor to Bon Appétit Magazine. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn until she decides to move upstate like everyone else.

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16 Reviews

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Betsy August 17, 2022

This was a good lentil recipe. The cut up unpeeled lemons were interesting (and easier than zesting/juicing) but I think the recipe would benefit from even more lemon juice or other acid flavor. I used dill, basil, cilantro, and parsley from the garden - I think mint might also be a good addition.

rehagupta August 16, 2022

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Erin C. July 22, 2022

This was delicious. I thought leaving the lemon peel on was strange but it works well with everything combined.
Also, my herb garden is growing like crazy so I used cilantro, savory, dill, thai basil and parsley.

steve E. July 19, 2022

This might just be the best salad I've ever eaten.

Michele July 21, 2022

I want to try this over the weekend, but I’m concerned about the lemon with peel on being bitter or weird. Did you keep the peel on as the recipe called for?

Robin July 22, 2022

I have used a whole chopped preserved lemon in place of the fresh one in this recipe & it was superb. I rinsed then dried the preserved lemon & removed the seeds from it then chopped it up skin and all. No hint of bitterness only a very unique zap of zing that takes the flavors over the top are imparted into the salad. To die for!

Michele July 24, 2022

Oooo! Great idea! Thanks Robin :)

Karen August 5, 2022

Please explain what you mean by “dried” the preserved lemon? Do you mean after rinsing you dried it a bit w a paper towel then chopped it?

French Lentil Salad With So Many Herbs Recipe on Food52 (2024)


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