Jan 17, 2012

Lentil salad with roasted red peppers, olives and almonds

I like to think of this as the Mediterranean diet in a bowl! (Well, it doesn’t include fish but otherwise it’s right on.) Lentils are a heart health superfood, because not only does their fiber help prevent heart disease, they also contain folate and magnesium which have significant cardiovascular benefits.

A lot of people who think they don’t like lentils have only had regular brown ones. They may be surprised to find that French green lentils have a less mealy texture and a more delicate, peppery flavor. So if you are a lentil skeptic, it’s time to give these delicious legumes another shot. This French lentil salad is a great place to start. With red peppers, olives and almonds, it’s a little sweet, a little salty and a little crunchy.

I would usually add garlic and onions or shallots to a salad like this. But I skipped it this time and was really happy with the result, as it let the other flavors shine. You don’t really need anything competing with roasted red peppers and olives!

Feel free to tweak this recipe – it’s a hard thing to screw up. You can use lemon juice instead of vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes instead of roasted red peppers, or fresh basil instead of dill. But do use the almonds no matter what, as the crunchiness and toasty flavor make this one irresistible salad.

My husband Tim likes this better as a warm dish rather than a cold one. So that’s another variation for you – just eat it right away.

Lentil Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Olives and Almonds

1¼ cups French green lentils
½ cup chopped roasted red peppers
½ cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup chopped raw almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste (I like flaky Maldon salt here, rubbed between your hands)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Rinse the lentils thoroughly. Put them in a saucepan and cover with cold water by a few inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked but still nicely chewy (you don’t want mushy lentils.)

Drain the lentils and place in a serving bowl along with the red peppers, olives, parsley, dill and almonds. Gently stir in the red wine vinegar and let sit for a few minutes. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve warm or refrigerate for several hours and bring to room temperature before serving.

Serves 4

Other great lentil salad recipes from some of my favorite chefs and bloggers:

Lentil Salad from Marcus Samuelsson (interesting, with figs and pumpkin seeds)

Black Quinoa and Red Lentil Salad with Parsley from Healthy Green Kitchen

Colorful Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Herbs from The Kitchn

Lebanese Lentil Salad with Garlic, Cumin, Mint and Parsley from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Warm Lentil Salad with Caramelized Onions and Brussels Sprouts from The Taste Space

See more recipes: Beans & legumes, Gluten-free, Salads, Vegan


  • I love green lentils (I don’t think I’ve ever tried the brown ones). Usually, I’ll just throw in some peppers and onions, but I love the idea of making it more Mediterranean. I also totally agree with your husband and like my lentils served warm.

  • Such a great looking recipe. I love all types of lentils, and the flavorings sound fabulous in this.

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Thanks, Kalyn! Your opinion means a lot :)

  • I love lentils and Mediterranean food…could this recipe get any better? ( Although I do love my lentils with feta as well!)

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Jess, you can definitely throw some feta on top, although you might want to cut down the olives in that case, because both are very salty. I use fat-free feta, and it’s quite good on salads – definitely better than most yucky fat-free cheese.

  • I love this recipe – I love French lentils. Since you posted it I have had it for lunch at least 3 times!!!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    That’s great, Wilma!

  • Mia

    I fixed this a couple days ago and I’ve been loving it! I actually used green olives because that was the only olive I had and I didn’t have any dill either. But even with those changes, it was delicious (although less Mediterranean). I ate a bowl of it with a hard-boiled egg and savored every bite. Thanks for sharing!

  • Lia

    I tried this tonight and it was delicious! I’ve only recently discovered French lentils and I adore them. FYI, I added a bunch of baby spinach under the warm lentils to make it a one dish meal. Just what I needed after an unhealthy vacation. Thanks, Cathy!

  • whatwouldcathyeat

    Thanks, Lia. I’ll try it on baby spinach next time.

  • Shelton P.

    I’ve been making this recipe once or twice a month for two years now. Though I know it by heart I thought I’d stop by and say thanks. I now have to make a quadruple batch: my wife and kids will go through a single batch before I can get it into bowls, and my coworkers ask for a portion every time I take it to work. Thanks.

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