Lentils, How Do I Love Thee?

I love lentils. I especially love Beluga, the shiny black, caviar-like lentils, or the Du Puy, French green lentils. They are both awesome in salads because they are firm and have a bite if you cook them just right.

Like other legumes, lentils are high in protein, B vitamins and both soluble and insoluble fiber, and they have the added advantage of cooking quickly. Lentils have a mild, often earthy flavor, and they’re best if cooked with assertive flavorings. The milder brown lentils also hold their shape after cooking, but can easily turn mushy if overcooked. Indian markets also carry a wide variety of split lentils, called dal.

Before cooking, always rinse lentils and pick out stones and other debris. Unlike dried beans and peas, there’s no need to soak them. If you are concerned with your phytic acid levels you could let them soak for at least 7 hours and pour that water off, adding fresh filtered water.  Lentils cook more slowly if they’re combined with salt or acidic ingredients, so add these last. Bigger or older lentils take longer to cook. Store dried lentils for up to a year in a cool, dry place.

Here is how I made my simple salad!

French Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions, Pine nuts and Moroccan Olives

  • 1 cup Du Puy or Beluga Lentils, sorted
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon or red wine vinegar (or half lemon and half vinegar)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • herbs: fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley (some or all three)
  • 1/3 c pine nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • around 8 baby pear or teardrop tomatoes
  • 5 Moroccan or Kalamata olives
  1. Rinse and boil lentils in about 3 cups water for 20 minutes or until al dente.  Salt when about halfway to finishing.  (this step takes less time if lentils have been soaked)
  2. Lightly caramelize onions in butter until perfectly golden.
  3. Mince garlic, fresh thyme and rosemary or parsley.  Slice up 8 or so baby pear tomatoes
  4. Toast pine nuts for 5-10 minutes in a 275 F oven or until golden.  Watch like a hawk!  They burn in a blink of an eye.  If you want to you can take your time with this step and go longer at a lower temperature.
  5. Assemble vinaigrette, 3 Tablespoons oil, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  6. Pit olives.
  7. Slice tomatoes length wise.
  8. If using Manchego or Parmesan cheese, shave off the amount you want and place aside.
  9. Saving some pine nuts and cheese for garnish, toss all ingredients together.  Adjust seasonings like herbs, garlic and salt and pepper.

*  I recommend this Lentil Salad as a main dish meal over assorted and dressed mixed greens, mache, or spinach, or even heated lightly and served as a side to halibut, salmon.

Cat Dillon

This blog is my journal, where I share everything wellness. From tips on healthy lifestyle to creating as much deliciousness in your life as possible.

Cat Dillon is the Cat in Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.

Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness is a unique combo of nutrition, fitness and cooking coaching all in one pretty package. Read more about Caterpillar Nutrition and Wellness.


  1. Yvonne       March 15, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    Hi Cat, love the flavor combos you have going there! I too love lentils and we eat them fairly regularly…I have seasonal flavourings and will be sure to include this one! Thanks for sharing…

    • You bet! I plan on posting a lot more fresh ideas in the coming months, so please stay tuned…. If you have any requests, let me know!

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