Julia Child's Lentil Salad ♥ Recipe

Julia Child's Lentil Salad, another healthy salad recipe ♥ A Veggie Venture.
Julia Child's Lentil Salad, soft, meaty lentils in a simple garlicky vinaigrette, served warm, at room temperature or cold. Low carb and high fiber.

When my book club and a friend's book club met earlier this week to discuss The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan, the conversation was lively but the food – oh my – the food was fabulous! I'm still prying the recipes from the group but here's the first of what I hope are several great recipes, ones I just know that readers here will find appealing.

This is a simple lentil salad that's just perfect for fall, especially since it's laced with autumn-ish herbs, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. (So sorry, just imagine, a popular song about herbs!)

Lentils are typically just a mess of brown-ness, but this salad lends itself to simple but dramatic garnishing, wedges of perfect hard-boiled eggs and, if you have some, cherry tomato halves. At this week's potluck, the lentils were placed in a leaf-shaped bowl lined with the tomatoes, with slices of egg arranged in the center, a big sprig of thyme emerging from the base. Very very pretty!

LENTILS FOR KIDS My favorite neighbor friend, age 8, popped in for a taste test. She loved the lentils!


Hands-on time: 20 minutes over an hour
Time to table: 1 hour (allow more time if soaking the lentils or serving at room temperature or cold)
Makes a generous 3 cups

6 cups water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1-1/2 cups (250g) lentils, rinsed

2 large cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, preferably thyme and sage
1/2 tablespoon good mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup good olive oil

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomato, optional
Salt & pepper to taste

LENTILS Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Add lentils and cook until done, testing after 20 minutes or so. Drain the lentils, return to the hot pot.

VINAIGRETTE While lentils cook, mix the vinaigrette ingredients in the food processor cup of an immersion blender.

COMBINE Stir the vinaigrette into the (drained) hot lentils, stirring well to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled.

SALT THE WATER OR NOT? A reader who made the salad suggests adding salt to the cooking water. I don't, since I've read that this makes the lentils tough. Since I've not done side-by-side tests, I'll leave other readers to make their own calls! The last time I made this salad, I did indeed salt the water. Wonderful flavor!
SOAK THE LENTILS OR NOT? Julia Child's recipe and my friend both used just regular brown lentils. Julia's instructions suggest soaking the lentils for an hour before cooking. I used black lentils from Trader Joe's, whose label specifically mentioned that there is no necessity to soak the lentils, so I didn't. I also find French lentils, which are nice and meaty, at World Market. If you find some, snatch 'em up, so good!
SAVE THE COOKING WATER? Julia suggests saving the cooking liquid for using in soups. This didn't work for me, way too salty and starchy!
SUN-DRIED TOMATO This last time, I added a little sun-dried tomato to the salad, hoping to jazz up its appearance a little. No such luck but the taste is wonderful!
For apples-to-apples (or here on A Veggie Venture, salad-to-salad) comparison, I'm using a half cup as the serving size. That seems a little big to me, this is a hearty, filling salad, a little goes a long way.

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Still Hungry?


~ Summer Lentils ~
~ Oven-Cooked Lentil Soup ~
~ Veggie Burritos with Cilantro Sauce ~
~ Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes ~
~ more recipes with lentils, beans & legumes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Homemade Lentil Soup ~
~ Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains ~
~ Simple Lentil Salad with Seasonal Vegetables ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2008 & 2016

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I've made this salad with green Puy lentils, too, and it's delicious.

  2. I have that book! What have I not made this salad before? Will make some this afternoon. Thanks!

  3. I'm making this this afternoon to take on our road trip tomorrow! Wonderful Alanna.

  4. By kettle, do you mean pot? Or do you mean tea kettle?

  5. Lydia ~ Trade Joe's black lentils have the same texture as the green Puy lentils, they're perfect. But my friend made it with regular brown lentils, I was surprised how good they were.

    Andrea ~ It's a winner, for sure!

    Tanna ~ This is a great road trip recipe -- no mayo, no mess, easy to serve. I think I'll be making it often.

    Matt ~ "Does the pot call the kettle black?" Yes, a pot is what I mean, but a big one since the lentils do expand considerably. Thanks for the clarification.

  6. I tried the recipe. I have several suggestions.

    1) Add the salt when cooking the lentils as it will get the flavor into the beans.
    2) Specify whether you are talking about dry mustard or prepared mustard.
    3) Nowhere do you say to drain the lentils before adding the vinegrette.

    Just a few uncertainties when making this recipe for the first time.

    I enjoy your recipes. I like the Weight Watchers ones. I am 75 yrs but still need to watch my weight to stay healthy.



  7. Hi Grace,

    So glad the recipe inspired you, thanks for taking the time to share your suggestions. I've updated the post to include them.

    FYI - I don't salt the lentil water because I've read that makes the lentils turn out tough. But I don't really know, so, perhaps others will want to follow your lead.

    I've added a second reminder to drain the lentils -- we don't want to forget that!

    Thanks again - so glad you're here!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna