Warm French Lentil Salad

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lentil_salad06The warmth of this salad brings out the best flavors of the ingredients: mellow lentils, sharp escarole, aromatic fennel, and rich, crunchy walnuts.



Warm French Lentil Salad
Recipe type: Main Dish Salad
Cuisine: French
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1 medium head of escarole (about 12 ounces)
  • 1 fresh fennel bulb
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or walnut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme (1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh)
  • ¾ cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • lemon wedges or a cruet of vinegar
  1. In a saucepan, bring the lentils, 3 cups of water, and ½ teaspoon of the salt to a simmer.
  2. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender but not mushy.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse, drain, and chop the escarole (about 6 cups).
  4. To prepare the fennel bulb, remove the outer layers if bruised or soft.
  5. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the hard core, and thinly slice (about 2 cups).
  6. In a large skillet, heat the oil and sauté the garlic, ground fennel, and thyme for a few seconds.
  7. Add the fresh fennel and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and stir-fry on high heat for about 2 minutes.
  8. Stir in the escarole and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until softened but still crisp and bright.
  9. Remove from the heat and drain any excess liquid into the cooking lentils.
  10. When the lentils are done, drain them.
  11. Stir the drained lentils into the escarole mixture.
  12. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature, topped with the walnuts.
  13. Decorate with lemon wedges, or offer vinegar at the table.
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