A tangy warm green French lentils salad with dijon dressing is the perfect protein-packed side dish. With pancetta, shredded carrots, and goat cheese crumbles, it’s a taste of French farmhouse cooking at home.
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Warm French Lentils In A Salad
Before we started traveling in France, I never would have put the words lentil and salad together. Years ago, though, we traveled through Provence and started to see French green lentils at the local markets and deli shops.
Of course, I love that the lentils make this a protein-packed salad or side dish. But there is just something about serving them warm or room temperature, with fresh, cool carrots and goat cheese.
Plus the way the warm lentils bring out the flavor of mustard vinaigrette, this is one salad that is far from boring.
See our other green lentils recipes:
See our other recipes with beans and pancetta:
See our other salad recipes:
Tips For Cooking French Green Lentils
There is no need to soak dried green lentils before cooking them. Whereas it’s best to soak beans ahead of time to shorten cook time, lentils don’t require the same treatment. Lentils don’t take as long to cook as beans.
When it comes to preparing green lentils, I sort through them just to make sure there is nothing foreign in the package. This can be just a cursory inspection.
Then, rinse the green lentils in cool water and drain. When adding the lentils into the recipe, don’t worry if a little water goes along with them. It’s just more moisture to help the lentils cook.
Looking for more French recipes? Check out our Vegetarian White Bean Cassoulet Recipe.
French Green Lentil Salad Ingredients
This green lentils recipe is not your typical salad recipe. The green lentils are sauteed in olive oil, shallots, and garlic. Then, they are cooked in chicken broth until they start to soften.
The vinaigrette is a simple one, made of just good quality olive oil, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, shallots, and garlic. I like using Maille Dijon Mustard, which I can purchase at the shops in Spain. It’s creamy and tangy and can be used on sandwiches as well.
The warm lentil salad is finished off with pancetta and goat cheese for a little decadence, and shredded carrots and parsley for color and crunch.
How To Cook French Green Lentils For a Salad
If you have not cooked the pancetta ahead of time, do so while preparing the lentils. Place the pancetta in a small skillet without oil and cook until browned.
Although it is not necessary to pre-soak the lentils, they should be soaked in cool water and then drained. Don’t worry if there is a little water left after draining.
Cooking The Green Lentils
Start to cook the green lentils by warming the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized saucepan. Once the olive oil is warm, add the garlic and shallots. Cook the garlic and shallots until coated in oil and they start to soften. They should not start to brown.
Add chicken broth, drained lentils, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a slight boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
At 30 minutes stir and taste for the softness of the lentils and adjust any seasoning. Add the cooked pancetta to warm the pancetta and flavor the lentils. Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the lentils are firm but not crunchy nor soft.
In the photos above, you can see the smaller lentil size when they are uncooked and then the larger, more plump lentils, just before they are done.
Preparing The Dressing
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing. Add the remaining olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, one clove of garlic, and one shallot. Whisk together.
I like to use a garlic press when preparing salads so that the garlic is not too big after cooked. This is particularly important with the dressing. This is the garlic press I have at home.
Assembling The Warm Lentil Salad
After cooking the lentils, place the cooked green lentils into a large bowl. Use a slotted spoon if there is still liquid left in the pot. If you want to make the salad a little more moist, add a tablespoon of the liquid to the dressing.
Stir in the shredded carrots, parsley, and dressing. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with goat cheese. If the lentils are too warm, the goat cheese will melt. It’s best to add the cheese at the table if the lentils are hot.
How To Serve A Warm Lentil Salad
This salad is pretty hearty. It can be eaten on its own, with warm, crusty bread. Feel free to drizzle the bread with a little good quality olive oil.
It also pairs well with warm and creamy soups like squash or pumpkin soup. It can be served as a side salad for grilled meats, baked ham, or a rotisserie chicken.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup of olive oil (reserved for dressing)
- 2 shallots, diced (one for lentils and one reserved for dressing)
- 5 cloves of garlic, pressed (four for lentils and one reserved for dressing)
- 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dry green lentils, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup cooked pancetta
- 1/4 cup shredded carrots
- 1/4 chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse the lentils in cool water and drain, place to the side
- Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan
- Once warm, add 4 cloves of garlic and one shallot. Cook until coated in olive oil and the shallots start to soften, about 3-5 minutes
- Add chicken broth, drained lentils, and salt and pepper to taste
- Bring to a slight boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the lentils are cooking, prepare the dressing. Add the remaining olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard, one clove of garlic, and one shallot. Whisk together.
- At 30 minutes stir and taste for the softness of the lentils and adjust any seasoning.
- Add the cooked pancetta to warm the pancetta and flavor the lentils.
- Cook an additional 5-10 minutes until the lentils are firm but not crunchy nor soft.
- Just before serving, stir in shredded carrots, dressing, and fresh parsley.
The 5 minutes additional time is to cook the pancetta if needed
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 381Total Fat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 13mgSodium: 234mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 6gSugar: 3gProtein: 10g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
FAQs – Warm Green French Lentils Salad
There are different kinds of green lentils. French lentils are just one variety. I like cooking with them because they hold their shape well.
Yes, but I prefer it warm or room temperature, particularly with the pancetta. If you want to serve it cold or to prepare it ahead of time, maybe skip the pancetta, which doesn’t tend to do cold well.