French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This hearty lentil salad is perfect for a light dinner or a wholesome on-the-go lunch.

french lentil salad

I make this hearty lentil salad when I get fed up with hasty on-the-go lunches and am craving something wholesome. It’s made with French green lentils, which are ideal for salads because they hold their shape when cooked.  They’re grown in the rich volcanic soil near Le Puy en Velay in the Auvergne region of France and have a wonderful earthy flavor. Unlike dried beans, lentils don’t require pre-soaking prior to being cooked.  You simply pick over the little legumes, remove any that look broken or damaged, and cook for 20-30 minutes. So easy!

What you’ll need to make French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

You can find French green lentils in the bulk section at Whole Foods or specialty food shops. They’re definitely worth going out of your way to find but if you can’t get them, common green or brown lentils will work fine — just watch the cooking time as they can get mushy.

How to make THE salad

Begin by combining the lentils, chicken broth and bay leaf in a pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 25-30 minutes until tender.

In the meantime, prep all the vegetables and herbs.  You want to cut them pretty small so you get the right proportion of lentils and vegetables in every bite.

For the carrots and celery, the best way is to cut them into thin strips first, then line them up and cut again.

When the lentils are tender, strain and let cool.

Combine everything except the goat cheese in a bowl and toss well.

Right before serving, top with crumbled goat cheese.

Serve and enjoy.

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French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

This hearty lentil salad is perfect for a light dinner or a wholesome on-the-go lunch.

Servings: 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main course
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus 10 minutes to chill

Ingredients

  • 1 cup French green lentils (or common brown or green lentils)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita
  • 3 ounces goat cheese

Instructions

  1. Before cooking the lentils, make sure you rinse them well and pick over them to remove any small rocks or debris. Combine lentils, chicken broth and bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer until lentils are tender, 25-30 minutes for French green lentils or 20-25 minutes for common brown or green lentils. Remove bay leaf, strain and let cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except goat cheese. Add cooled lentils and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer salad to serving dish, crumble goat cheese over top and serve.
  3. Note: When preparing this recipe, be sure to build in at least 10 minutes to cool the lentils after they have cooked.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 432
  • Fat: 21g
  • Saturated fat: 6g
  • Carbohydrates: 40g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 16g
  • Protein: 21g
  • Sodium: 675mg
  • Cholesterol: 15mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Thanks so much for this great recipe! I’ve made it before as written and don’t usually deviate from your recipes, but tonight I’m making it for potluck tomorrow and realized that I don’t have fresh parsley. I was also planning to try feta instead of goat cheese.

    Do you have a dried herb suggestion or do you think some fresh dill would work in place of the parsley and with the feta?

    Thank you!

    • — Cindy on November 14, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Cindy, I may be responding to late to be helpful, but I think fresh dill and feta would be a nice twist on this!

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2019
      • Reply
  • Love this recipe sooo much! Simple, easy, healthy. It’s the perfect work lunch because it’s hearty and smells good. I heat it up for a very satisfying meal, with or without goat cheese.

    • — Madeleine on November 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • Another perfect recipe from Jenn, I make this all the time and absolutely love it! Thank you so much!

    • — Pam on October 15, 2019
    • Reply
  • No credit to David Lebovitz?

    • — G R C on September 4, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi, while it looks like my recipe has some similarities to Leibovitz’s, this one is all my own. (Whenever I adapt a recipe from another chef/blogger/cookbook author, I always reference them on my site.)

      • — Jenn on September 5, 2019
      • Reply
  • Purchased French green lentils at our Harris Teeter store.

    Absolutely delicious!!!!!!

    • — Paula Wipf on August 8, 2019
    • Reply
  • Is there a way to see the recipes in metric values

    • — warwick back on August 1, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Warwick, Most of my recipes do have the conversion to metric measures. This one did not but I just added them. To view them, scroll down to the recipe and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on August 1, 2019
      • Reply
  • I’d love to try this and am wondering if I can use Trader Joe’s precooked lentils as a shortcut?

    • — Sona on July 15, 2019
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on July 16, 2019
      • Reply
  • Another winner in our house! I used feta instead of goat cheese, which worked well for us. Thanks!

    • — Linda Fasulo on June 13, 2019
    • Reply
  • I really enjoyed this salad! I want to make it again as a side but wondering…which of your other recipes would pair well with it?

    • — A.Lo on March 20, 2019
    • Reply
  • Made this with homemade chicken stock and kohlrabi instead of celery (didn’t have any). Turned out very crunchy and flavourful. My DIL loved it…even without the goat cheese which I had forgotten at home. Another keeper!

    • — Connie Manuel on January 18, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I actually made the dressing ahead and poured over the lentils and veggies to distribute evenly! YUM!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • — Donna on January 16, 2019
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Another great recipe! I tasted it immediately after making it. It was good but hours later it was fabulous. So flavorful. The next day it was great too. Yum! I made it with feta because that’s what we had. Next time I’ll try goat cheese.

    • — Renee B on January 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • This delicious, easy, and BEAUTIFUL recipe has become a household staple for cool dinners on hot summer nights. I always double the recipe so I can be sure to have leftovers for lunch the next day. In my experience, it is definitely worth it to get your hands on some Le Puy lentils (- easy to find online if not available locally); also, using fresh thyme instead of dried really gives it more of that authentically “French” flavor and aroma. THANKS for another winner dinner idea!

    • — Virginia Soth on December 20, 2018
    • Reply
  • I made this last night, OMGoodness, so delicious! And not hard to make. Another winner!

    • — Anonymous on November 29, 2018
    • Reply
  • Love your recipes! Thank you so much.
    What brand of goat cheese do you use?

    PS Your book makes a wonderful gift. I have already given 3 !

    • — Sandi in Idaho on November 29, 2018
    • Reply
    • Thanks for your nice words about the recipe and gifting the cookbook to others! 💗
      I actually don’t have a favorite brand of goat cheese. Depending on the store I’m in, I just get what’s available. (I usually buy already crumbled.)

      • — Jenn on November 29, 2018
      • Reply
  • Our favorite recipe on this site! This salad is so simple, yet amazingly delicious and filling. I share it with people almost every week. The only substitution I make is feta for goat cheese and I double the veggies. Everyone loves this and asks for more ~ quite a feat for lentil salad! I use many of your recipes and never have a problem. They are all well written and well tested. Thank you!

    • — Molly M on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Some people mentioned cumin in the reviews. I do not see cumin in the recipe? Has the recipe changed?

    • — Marcia Y on September 24, 2018
    • Reply
    • No, it hasn’t been changed – it never had cumin in it (but I think it would be a tasty addition if you wanted to try it)!

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hello Jen,
    First off I just want to say from the moment I tried just one of your recipes I knew you and the dishes you make are superb, easy and make you look like a “rock star” chef. You are my go to for trying out new things and I just purchased your cookbook which I love!
    I did want to note four things about this recipe. 1. I would say the total time is more than 35 minutes because you have to add the cooling time in. 2. I would note to separate and wash lentils before cooking 3. salt can vary. I usually use 1/2 the salt that you note in your recipes 4. I believe the pan for the lentils should be covered and therefore it would be good to mention that in the instructions.

    This dish rocks! I am craving it so made it today! Thank you!

    • — Marcia Yallech on September 24, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Marcia, so glad to hear you enjoy the recipes! Thanks for all the useful comments about this salad. I added some chilling time to the recipe as well as the suggestion to rinse the lentils before cooking them. Regarding the salt, I know that can vary based on an individual’s palate. And, lastly, while it’s perfectly fine to cover the lentils while they are simmering, it’s not necessary – you really can go either way. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • Excellent, healthy recipe! I made it just as the recipe stated and had it for lunch several days in a row. It was even better after sitting for a day or two. I didn’t have the French lentils, so I just used regular green ones.

    • — Erikka on June 28, 2018
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! It’s fresh, creamy, and crunchy all at once. I served it for dinner with the pan-seared salmon. The combination was perfect.

    • — Maura on April 17, 2018
    • Reply
  • This salad is healthy and delicious. Can’t get any better that that!

    Thank you, Jenn.

    • — Paula Wipf on March 11, 2018
    • Reply
  • This is delicious! Adding this to the regular rotation!

    Also, I bought SimplyNature green lentils from Aldi, and they have this exact recipe, literally word for word, on the back of the lentil package. Hope you knew/know that! 🙂

    • — Kristin on February 7, 2018
    • Reply
  • This was so good I forgot to add the cheese! Then I remembered and it was even better!!

    • — Tracey on January 28, 2018
    • Reply
  • So good I forgot it was healthy. Will be making this again.

  • Sooooo good!

  • I have made this twice recently. It is a refreshing salad with a nice combination of flavors and textures. Perfect for those winter days when there is a hint of spring in the air. A very hearty salad to be eaten alone or as a side dish. I made it one day with ingredients I already had on hand. Except goat cheese, so I substituted whatever cheese I already had and it was delicious. I have since made it with goat cheese, which I happen to love and it was even better. Thank you. Make it ahead and eat it for lunch!

  • Can I use fresh mozzarella cheese instead of goat cheese?

    • Hi Rosanna, Feel free to use whatever cheese you like but keep in mind that mozzarella won’t add much flavor – I think feta would be a more flavorful substitute for the goat cheese.

  • Delicious, but really benefitted from the zing of added lemon zest which kept the lentils from tasting too muddy.

  • Can this be made the day before?

  • I make this all the time! Such a delicious, satisfying staple for any season.

  • Funny, I always thought that I disliked lentils. Then went to a party with a lentil/feta salad which I really enjoyed. So decided to check your website because I thought I recalled a lentil recipe. Made this with Feta (that’s what I had on hand) and brown lentils (no time to go to Whole Foods and my supermarket did not have the ones you recommend). Loved it and made it twice. Next time I will go to Whole Foods to get the green lentils and goat cheese to follow your recipe exactly. But it’s a winner anyway!

  • Wonderful mix of ingredients. Tasty, healthy, and fun to eat (love the crunch of the veggies). In fact, next time I’m going to add a little more celery and carrots. Another great dish.

  • I needed a dish to take to a small meeting that was taking place at lunch time. I had everything for this recipe, except for goat cheese, so I substituted feta (which I prefer anyway). It was a hit. Delicious, fresh, healthful!

  • Tried this yesterday when I was fed up of having made progress with healthy eating only to go backwards in recent days. This was the most delightful thing I have had in a long while. I love this site!!

    No question five stars – can’t wait for the book!

  • I made this and really liked it. I don’t believe the calories are correct though. The recipe says that there are over 400 calories per serving for 6 servings. Seemed really high. Could someone validate the calories please. Thanks

    • Hi Bev, I just made a correction to the number of servings. The nutritional info is correct but it applies to 4 servings instead of 6. Sorry for any confusion!

  • This salad was refreshing and indulgent all at the same time. I loved the texture and flavor of all the small lentils mixed with creamy goat cheese, and the crunch of the carrots and celery perfectly rounded out the dish. This was a nice way for me to try a new food, and I would make it again.

  • I’m loving this dish (eating some right now, my 2nd batch in 2 weeks). I put the carrots in to simmer with the lentils for the last 10 minutes of cooking time; they come out just tender.
    I am wondering what else I could add to this dish? I keep thinking it will come to me but nothing yet… any ideas? Other veggies, in particular? Not to make it better – it’s great all by itself – but just to get more veggies in my day.

    • Hi Katie, Red bell peppers might be nice. You could also try some cooked haricot verts chopped into bite-sized pieces.

  • This is absolutely delicious. Thank you for sharing!

  • Thank you for testing and perfecting this recipe! It is A++! The fresh herbs, garlic, dijon mustard! Love it! I ate this with the Mesclun Salad all day for Christmas! So satisfying.

    • The flavors dance the next day. I cooked my green lentils al dente so not mushy. This is my new daily dish!!

  • This lentil salad is soooo addictive! I used brown lentils and Progresso Tuscan broth(to simmer.) Just delicious. Another wonderful recipe- many thanks.

  • Another crowd pleaser – and I used vegetarian broth to cook the lentils…I drained the extra liquid and froze it, then later added it to a soup I was making. No waste. Works well with feta too.

  • Nutritional info?

    • Hi Michelle, The recipe has been updated to include nutritional info. See underneath the recipe.

  • I made this last winter and it made me like lentils even more. I’ve tried this twice, first with goat cheese and then with feta. I like it with feta better. Planning to serve this on my next fall or winter party

  • Any suggestion for substitute for the mustard? I’m all out, thanks!

    • Hi Grace, You could use a little dry ground mustard if you have it, or else just leave it out.

    • You had goat cheese but no mustard?

  • Love this! Was really happy to find it as I wanted a lentil dish that wasn’t soup. Plus I LOVE goat cheese! Perfection.

  • This was my lunch for 3 days in a row!!

  • This is such a yummy recipe! Our family and friends LOVE it. Thank you.

  • […] prepared the salad hosted here at , and it was great! The salad is easy to prepare, I had no problems with it even though I don't […]

  • Was in the mood for something warm for lunch, so spooned the lentil salad on top of a huge handful of baby spinach, topped with crumbled goat cheese and popped it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Love this healthy and versatile recipe!

    • Love this idea, Julie. You’ve made me hungry!

  • […] French Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese from Once Upon a Chef. Hearty and light at the same time, this salad will give you energy and is perfect for lunch or dinner. You can find french lentils at Whole Foods and Fresh Market. […]

  • Yum!!! Thanks.

  • This is the first dish i tried with lentils- delicious.spinach is a nice addition.

  • This is really marvy. I think next time I’ll use a little less garlic and a little more honey as mine came out a litle strong for the goat cheese.

  • What do you think would make a good substitution for the carrots? Thanks.

    • Hi Jennifer, You could use zucchini or red bell peppers.

  • omg!.. this is the best lentil recipe I’ve ever had. I made it for myself for lunch. I’ve been trying to do a vegan menu 6 of 7 days. This recipe is a keeper! Thanks!

  • Great summer salad!

  • Always looking for a good meatless dish. This is a great one.

  • What a great salad; pretty, yummy and healthy!

  • I made this salad again while trying to go vegetarian for a week and I ate it all week long! I dumped it on top of spinach and snacked on it all day! So so good, love the cumin.

    • Cumin? Where is cumin in the recipe?

      • — Marcia Yallech on September 24, 2018
      • Reply
    • Our household is not fond of goat or feta cheese. Thoughts on substitutes?? Have the French lentils ready to go.

      • — Evelyn on July 19, 2019
      • Reply
      • The only other cheese that might work here is blue cheese — if that doesn’t work, the salad will still be delicious without the cheese. Enjoy! 🙂

        • — Jenn on July 19, 2019
        • Reply
  • I made this last night as a side dish. It was fantastic and even my veggie-hating wife devoured it!

  • Goat cheese…yum!

  • It doesn’t get any better than this for a vegetarian. Lentils and goat cheese, what a great combination! The leftovers didn’t last long in my house!

  • Looking forward to making this for tea time…i love the addition of goat cheese

  • My husband and I enjoyed this. The leftovers were delicious for lunch the next day as well!

  • My husband loved this! He’s so sick of brussel sprouts right now. This one was unexpected with the creamy goat cheese and the crunchy carrots. Thanks!

  • I have made this, sometimes with minor variations, many times now. Excellent!

  • This recipe is a classic. After the first time we made it, I doubled batches for a few weeks straight so I could have some every day. A fantastic side or main dish, so simple and delish.

  • I’m always looking for new recipes that use lentils and found this one on Pinterest. Will be making it this weekend, it looks fantastic. .

  • Must try this one! Love goat cheese!

  • Made this and loved it. Reminded me of a wonderful lentil salad I enjoyed in France many years ago. Just wonderful!

  • Yes, I have made this dish 3 times since you posted it in January. No, it didn’t last very long each time. Yes, it works well for breakfast, lunch or dinner. FYI

  • The goat cheese just perfectly brings it all together. A family favorite in our house.

  • I love lentils and this salad is so great!!

  • Dear Jennifer, Just made this: Wonderful, thank you so much! You’ve got a least one fan in Europe now. Thank you again.

    • — Rebecca Akkerman-Garrett
    • Reply
  • Looks really good! I’m going to give this a try probably this coming weekend! Looks good and I’m sure my family will love it! Thanks for sharing!

  • Delicious! I served it with grilled chicken and then had the leftovers with grilled shrimp a few days later–the flavor had even improved! I shared this recipe with all my girls! Healthy and yummy, great combination! Lots of exclamation points, but well-deserved 🙂

  • On a bed of homegrown baby greens with a poached egg on top….perfect.

  • I made this salad this week and it will now regularly appear in my homemade lunch rotation. It made me so happy.

  • I made this for dinner last night, and after the first bite I immediately put down my fork and forwarded this recipe to everyone I know who likes lentils! I will definitely be making this again and again. Thank you for yet another delicious recipe!

  • I tried this new recipe yesterday. Lentils are one of those power foods I need but don’t eat enough because I hadn’t been able to make them taste very good.
    I was amazed by how good this tastes! Thanks Jenn! My life is improved. ; )

  • I made this last night for dinner with a side of your grilled chicken. I makes a perfect healthy dinner with leftovers for lunch! Thank you!

  • I’ve never been a huge lentil fan, but this looks just delicious. The addition of mustard– what a great idea! Thanks for the inspiration. I’ll definitely give it a try!

  • Mmmm looks delicious! I love goat cheese.

  • Any idea how long this will keep in the fridge (thinking leftovers)?

    • Jennifer, It will keep several days, at least. Hope you like it.

      • Thank you!

  • Jennifer! I LOVE this recipe! I saw it a while ago on SeriousEats and made it and my family gobbled it up! Thank you! I wrote about it on my blog here:

    http://peachesandcake.com/2012/01/02/cumin-scented-lentil-salad/

    Thanks again!
    Meg

  • This looks delicious, easy to make and good for you. Thank you for sharing. I like the idea of adding goat cheese to the salad.

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