in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

French Lentil & Vegetable Salad

When I think of a potluck, I can’t begin to tell you the memories that flood my mind and fill me with a nostalgic sense of where I come from. As a child of the 70’s, I remember the basics: edible flowers in wooden bowls, and lacy patchouli scented tablecloths strewn with every type of home-grown sprout & fresh tofu or edible wild green. Circles of hands & the feeling of well-worked adult fingers wrapped around mine.

Back in those days, the hippie counterculture was in many ways well-defined by folks who, like my parents, left their meat and potatoes upbringings to seek a greener, leaner, and more karmically positive life (I think I just invented a word there, but hey, I think I am qualified). My folks were just two of many who broke the mould of what was then commonplace to enjoy many of the things that now, some 35-40 years later, are finally coming to the forefront of everyday culture all across not just North America, but across the world.

French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
These brave young people were, in a sense, early pioneers in what would become our current food movement, leaving their urban upbringings to raise children among raised beds and wooden houses made of driftwood. Back then what we see now as finally becoming (just a little) mainstream was considered even more downright crazy, but they didn’t care, because they knew they were onto something good, and something real, and something infinitely better than what was then on the table.

Fast forward to now, and I smile at the mere thought of those who think this way of life is just a passing fad.

French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
To me, a potluck such as today’s defines what it means to share in what’s good in life, and to fully revel and appreciate the unique offerings we each can bring to the table (in food and in life). I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve attended a potluck or dinner party only to crave something other than the standard vegetarian options: salads of lettuce or the cheese plate (I am not a strict vegan so sometimes this will do) or the veggies and dip.

Sometimes I just want food with heart, and to me that means vegetarian soul food. Enter today’s salad, which combines a few of my most favorite veggie comfort foods (with that yummy Soy Balsamic dressing I posted this week).

French lentils are quite possibly one of my favorite foods of all time. They combine incredibly with other fiber rich foods and taste fantastic dressed and ready to go. I am always impressed beyond measure to see them on a restaurant menu, and know when I see them that someone really ‘gets’ it. So there, I love lentils. And combined with all of this goodness? Anyone will dig in. Guaranteed.

French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
French Lentil & Vegetable Salad:

(1) cup French lentils (or Beluga lentils), soaked in cold water for 4-6 hours
(1) orange yam, peeled and cubed
(1) large red onion, peeled and chopped
(1-2) tbsp olive oil, for roasting
(1/2) tsp salt, for roasting
(8) large raw Brussels sprouts, washed and shredded
5-6 fresh basil leaves, ribboned
(1/4) + cups Balsamic Soy Vinaigrette

Start by soaking the lentils, giving either overnight or the good part of the day to soak them (4-6 hours is usually adequate). To cook, put up a vegetable steamer full of enough water to steam for 20-25 minutes to boil. Rinse the soaked lentils in plenty of cold water and put them up to steam with the lid on (turn the water to a rolling boil once the water reaches a full boil). When the lentils are tender, but still firm, remove them from the steam heat, this should take about 20-25 minutes. Set aside in a bowl to cool a few minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the oven to 425 degrees and oil a flat baking tray. Toss the chopped yam & red onion in the oil and salt and lay flat on the baking tray. Bake at 425 degrees until golden, about 30 minutes all in, being sure to flip at the 15-minute mark to ensure evenness.

Once the cooking gets underway, shred your Brussels sprouts and prepare the dressing. While the lentils are still warm, toss them in a little of the dressing – this will mean the lentils get well coated in flavour before they cool – making them (IMO) extra delicious. Once the veggies are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. When all of the ingredients are at a comfy (read: room temp) temperature, toss everything together, adjusting the amount of dressing you use to taste.

Serve in a bowl or on a simple platter and for larger groups, I recommend doubling the recipe. The dressing recipe in the last post will make an ample amount of the dressing, which can also be used in any number of fantastic ways. Cut and toss the basil leaves on the top just before serving, as this will keep them green & fresh to the eyes.

On its own, this dish is an easy all in one meal that combines many nourishing elements. Cooked lentils & nutrient-rich yams with raw green veggies & tossed in a light but intensely flavoured dressing. Folks, if you are out there reading this and wondering what to bring to your next party, this might just be it.

French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More
French Lentil & Vegetable Salad | In Pursuit Of More

90 responses to “French Lentil & Vegetable Salad

  1. I’ve never tried raw Brussells sprouts. I bet they provide a nice bitter counterpoint to the sweet roasted veg here. Yummy!

    PS – Your blog is beautiful. You’ve definitely inspired me to raise my photography to a higher level!

  2. Shira, thanks for sharing your potluck memories – I think we’re going for the same spirit here and I love how enthusiastic and warm everyone has been! Thank you for the gorgeous salad, thank you for participating in the Potluck and thank you for your friendship!

    1. Thank you for hosting Annie – right back at you with a giant hug and even bigger smooch 🙂 You are one amazing woman! xo

  3. GORGEOUS salad!! I do find that a lot of the salads at potlucks have some kind of meat or dairy, so this would be perfect! A little bit of everything!

  4. Silly Somer, I’ve only recently discovered french green lentils and I want to put them on/in everything! Now I’m pulling up a chair and joining you in the feast! Did I tell you I love that dressing? xx

  5. you know, I’ve often made lentil salads and served a scoop on top of a green salad, but somehow I’ve never thought to mix everything together! This is such a great plan–hearty and rich and tasty and yet green and crispy and crunchy all at once.

  6. Absolutely perfect salad! I love your less and more advise. I’ve been guilty of putting up lots of rich dishes in one sitting before but I agree a lighter, veggie packed less rich dish is more digestible…more room for pudding 🙂

  7. Beautiful salad Shira – as I always say – you are a salad master 🙂
    I love the combination and I have to try the balsamic, soy vinaigrette!

  8. Shira, your salad looks absolutely gorgeous! I love lentils too, but French lentils are annoyingly hard to find. I’m actually considering buying some online (even though I never order food online!), and your recipe has made that seem even more urgent. 🙂 Love the sweet potato + lentil combination, plus the fresh basil on top!

  9. Oh, my gosh. This looks so good! Often when I eat lentils, I wonder what I ever did before them. Before I was vegetarian (and then vegan), I rarely if ever ate lentils. Now they’re one of my favorite foods, and especially French lentils du Puy. I’m curious as to why you soak your lentils before you cook them. Unlike beans, lentils don’t have to be soaked, and they still only take about a half an hour to cook from dry form. However, I don’t usually steam them. I cook them like rice (i.e. bring water to boil, lower heat, let the lentils soak in the hot water until engorged). Do you think they’re better or more nutrient dense steamed?

    1. Hey Cadry! Great question about the lentil cooking method (I should have included in my post) – I have always cooked the French lentils this way (not even sure where I learned it from) for use in cold salads as I find they stay firmer and there is less chance they will turn to mush. The soak/steam method makes for really plump & dry lentils that lends itself well to soaking up dressings and flavors while staying a really nice texture.
      For other uses, I cook as you do! So yes, for salads this method is my fave! xo

  10. Your upbringing sounds so interesting- how lucky that you were exposed to such amazing food and people at such a young age! Very few people can say they were!

    No wonder you are such an amazing cook now and this salad is no exception. The potatoes in it look mouth watering- it’s all I can do to not drool on my keyboard 😉 I think this is one I’ll HAVE to make!

    Happy Potluck 🙂

  11. this looks so fresh and delicious. I love your blog, it’s so beautiful and filled with so many inspirational recipes! thanks for sharing.

  12. Shira, I loved reading about your upbringing with all of the hippie staple foods and the whole counter cultural mode of life. No way is it a passing fad and your warm recounting is such great proof. Also, I would probably die of happiness if someone brought this to a potluck I was attending. So many beautiful and perfect ingredients together. Love that photo of the brussels shreds in a bowl + your copper measuring cup! 🙂

  13. A georgous & amazing yummy tasty looking salad! I love it so much! MMMMMM!
    A grand & very tasty entry for this VVP!!! I agree, here, completely!

  14. Wow! This salad looks divine. It’s so beautiful and with all my favorite flavors, too. I love the versatility of lentils. Thank you for contributing such a lovely recipe.

  15. I never thought of putting lentils into a salad. This is brilliant… and I’m on such a yam kick right now. Well, I’m always on a yam kick, who am I kidding?

  16. I made your beautiful salad and dressing for dinner last night and it was SO delicious! A new favorite 🙂 Leftovers for lunch – yum!
    Thanks Shira

  17. Sheesh, this looks good! I will make this dish soon… but I am not so sure I am going to share it with anyone. I am sure this will be very nice as leftovers as well… lentils soaking in the yummy dressing. Thank you for the recipe.
    Oh and, say hi to your lovely ‘hippie’ parents. You are lucky that you grew up this way. I am sure many of us only really got exposed to a cleaner/more compassionate lifestyle as adults.

  18. this is one beautiful salad. i think i would just eat a bunch of helpings of this in a potluck.. i already love all sorts of lentils. the lightly roasted veggies, that vinaigrette and plump lentils .. yes!
    i love the idea of steaming them. My mom taught us to soak all lentils, beans, and even grains. though i never questioned the method back then, from what i had read lately, it seems the soaking helps the body break them down more easily and get more nutrients out of them.

  19. Wow, this salad looks amazing! Your photography is just stunning. I love, love, love lentils and brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes. I’m going to try this one for the weekend – seems like a great dish to bring to a potluck or picnic. I bet the dressing would be equally good without the oil, I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe!

  20. I have made this twice and it is amazing! I literally eat the leftovers for days. The recipe is very simple and combines delicious ingredients while topping it with a perfect dressing that I now use for salads all the time. It plates beautifully as well!!

  21. I’m not strictly vegan or vegetarian but I love meals like this that have great nutrition and are not a run-of-the-mill boring salad! Made this tonight & it was excellent! I used your herb Dijon vinaigrette recipe in place of the balsamic dressing. Bringing leftovers on a picnic/hike with friends tomorrow. Love your blog & can’t wait to discover other great recipes!

  22. I seriously could eat this every week. All by myself. I have substituted butternut squash for the yam and only use about 1/4 of the dressing and throw the brussels sprouts in the oven for a short time. It is so good!! And beautiful.

  23. That looks wonderful, I am going to make it for sure. Have one question..I do not have a vegetable steamer so how long in a regular pot without making them mushy and still al dente? Oh I have some red lentils I think I will try.

    1. Hi Patty! I don’t recommend red lentils – in this case I would using canned as you won’t get the same results without a steamer 🙂

  24. I didn’t have the forethought to soak the lentils, so I used the rinsed and drained ones from a 19-ounce can instead when I made this salad last night. The foodies in my large vegan family declared it to be the best salad they had ever eaten. From the few mouthfuls I had before they gobbled it up, I have to agree! Thanks for that healthy, delicious recipe, Shira!

  25. This was scrumptious! Glad I found it on Food52. I usually never comment on recipes but I can’t help myself. I will make a few changes next time. I cut back to 1/2 an onion – what a mistake. Those caramelized beauties added so much!! I also topped with some pomegranates. My husband doesn’t like vinegar so I had to cut the dressing in half. I could eat this every day. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  26. I made this salad tonight, and it was delicious! Steaming the lentils was something new for me to try. I like this method. My husband and I are looking forward to having this amazing salad again! Thank you

  27. I’ve made this recipe twice now. It is no doubt the best vegan dish I have had to date, It is really super tasty. My close friend is a MD and he loves the nutrition provided in this dish. It is super flavorful and super nutritious.

  28. This looks amazing and I’d like to bring it for a thanksgiving side dish. Can it be prepped ahead with much success? Or is it best made day-of?

    1. Hi Stacy! So sorry for the delay! This salad will definitely keep for a few days. I would suggest to make it before serving if possible for best results!

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