This Nicoise-style French lentil salad is light but pleasantly filling, and with a lovely mix of textures, flavors and colors. A great make-ahead meal.
When I made my baked swordfish and asparagus with lentils and chermoula recently we had a mini-revelation: both boys like lentils. I’m not sure why we hadn’t discovered it before, I suspect I just hadn’t really tested it. However it opened up more options for meals that they’d eat, and reminded me we needed to get back into lentils.
Last year I made a French lentil salad with feta or other variations for lunch fairly often. Now it’s getting nicer, I decided to make a variation again but this time inspired by another French classic, Niçoise salad. The result is a really tasty, filling but not heavy salad that’s perfect for lunch or dinner. And it has so much else going for it too, as I’ll explain.
If you want to be picky, since I’ve called it Niçoise-style this should really have olives, hard boiled egg and possibly capers in there too. You are welcome to add them, but I think it works really well as it is.
You might think using lentils rather than a plain lettuce will make this heavy, but it really doesn’t. It does make it a little more filling and I’d argue more of a rounded meal, so perfect as a dinner salad, today’s Sunday Supper theme.
How to make this French lentil salad, Niçoise-style
There are a few things to cook here, but none of it’s difficult. You just boil the potatoes, beans and lentils, although they do all need to be separate as they take different times and the lentils in particular tint the water they are cooked in. Then, separately grill the tuna, whisk up the dressing and cut the tomatoes. So apart from a little more washing up than some dishes, it’s pretty straightforward.
You can also do all the cooking and chopping ahead of time (although I’d suggest you don’t do the tuna until the night before at the most) and increase quantities to give you tasty lunches or easy dinners all week long. In fact, why not add an egg and olives one night, or something else another to mix things up?
This Niçoise-style French lentil salad is light but pleasantly filling, and with a lovely mix of textures, flavors and colors. It makes a great make-ahead meal or lighter dinner. Both healthy and tasty too, it’s definitely one you need to try.
French lentil salad Nicoise-style with seared tuna
- 1/2 cup French lentils 100g, also called puy lentils
- 4 oz potatoes 110g, not dry but waxier/salad potato eg Charlotte, fingerling
- 4 oz green beans 110g
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes 100g, or grape tomatoes
- 1/4 lb fresh tuna
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper
- Cook the lentils according to packet instructions - generally cover with around 1 1/2cups/360ml water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around 30-40 minutes until tender but not mushy. Drain and rinse. Mix up the dressing (oil, vinegar, mustard, sugar and salt and pepper) and pour over the lentils and mix.
- As the lentils are cooking, boil the potatoes until tender, around 10 minutes, then drain.Cut into bite-sized chunks. Trim the ends from the beans, boil for around 2 minutes until just tender then drain and put into an ice bath or rinse well in cold water to stop cooking.
- Cut the tomatoes in half. All of the above can be done ahead of time and everything divided between two boxes eg if taking for lunch. You can either arrange as in photos or mix.
- When ready to serve, put lentils in serving bowls and top with other ingredients. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tuna and grill either on an outside grill or in a griddle pan. If you don't have either, you can pan fry. Cook a couple minutes each side until cooked on the outside but still slightly pink in the middle. Slice then add to the bowls. (Note - you can also cook it ahead and add to rest, and it will keep overnight.)
- Optional additions - some olive, hard boiled egg and/or capers, if you like, will all go well.
See all the other dinner salads being shared today:
Brilliant Beef Salads
- Grilled Greek Steak Cobb with Greek Goddess Dressing by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
- Grilled Keilbasa and Warm Mustard Viniagrette Salad by Our Good Life
- Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette Beef Salad by Sunday Supper Movement
- Southwestern Steak Salad by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
Choice Chicken Salads
- BBQ Chicken Salad by Palatable Pastime
- Caribbean Chicken Quinoa Salad by My Life Cookbook
- Chicken Fried Picnic Salad by The Freshman Cook
- Chicken Salad with Orange and Fennel by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Chrissy’s Cobb Salad by Fantastical Sharing of Recipes
- Grilled Panzanella Salad with Chicken Sausage by A Mind “Full” Mom
- Rainbow Greek Chicken Salad by Jersey Girl Cooks
Superb Seafood Salads
- Beer Steamed Shrimp Salad by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Crab Salad with Chili, Tomato and Avocado by Monica’s Table
- Red Camargue and Wild Rice Salad with Tuna by Food Lust People Love
- Roasted Cod and Edamame Salad by The Bitter Side of Sweet
- Seared Ahi Tuna Salad with Key Lime-Dijon Vinaigrette by Gourmet Everyday
- Shrimp & Orange Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Vibrant Veggie Salads
- Chopped Greek Salad by Soulfully Made
- Farmers Market Quinoa Salad by And She Cooks
- Iron Chef Morimoto Inspired Salad by NinjaBaker.com
- Kale Guacamole Salad by Pies and Plots
- Kale Superfoods Salad by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Loaded Chopped Salad by Simple and Savory
- Muffuletta Pasta Salad by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
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