I think that a lot of people think they don't like lentils. But, that's probably because they haven't had french lentils, or black lentils. Unlike green, brown or red lentils, french lentils hold their shape. And if you're having them in a salad like this, it's essential to use them so they don't become mushy. I've always been team lentil, but even more so now because they can be used in so many ways. I love crisping them up in the oven after cooking and using them as salad toppers or just eating them on their own, with an egg and all the spices. Hopefully, if you try this french lentil salad, you'll understand why I love them so much too.
I've been so inspired lately in the kitchen, which has been good considering how much time I've been spending in it. With things still shut down, I haven't ventured out much, and I limit my grocery trips to once a week. Simply because going out and getting groceries really isn't much fun lately. The overall vibe isn't great in these stores, plus theres lineups. I know this is the least of many peoples problems, so I don't want to even complain. And to be honest, it's made me appreciate what I do have and I've learned to be a lot more creative.
Kitchen and cooking inspiration comes from all sorts of things for me. One of them is definitely watching Bon Appétit videos on YouTube and also just checking their site. For this French lentil salad with kale, I was majorly inspired by this lentil salad recipe of theirs. I knew after the first time I made it, this was going to become a staple for me. It's packed with so MUCH FLAVOUR! And it holds up really well, so it's perfect for meal prep. I kept the base the same, and just changed around some of the spices and omitted a couple things to make it easier to assemble. Definitely, check out the BA recipe as well!
Lentils are part of the legume family, just like beans. But, unlike beans which take a lot longer to cook (and requires soaking), lentils are wayyyy easier. You don't need to soak them, and they cook in about 25 minutes or less. Like I said, I think the reason that a lot of people say they don't like lentils is because they weren't using the right one for the job. Depending on what it is you're cooking and the texture you're after, the lentil you use can vary.
Use these when you're wanting to make a soup or stew. They split and fall apart after cooking and so they work best when you want that slightly mushier texture. These are typically the most commonly used and the ones you find in stores the most.
These lentils are most commonly used in Indian curry recipes, such as daal. They turn mushy as well and you can cook them in about 20 minutes. I love using red lentils when I make a spicy coconut soup.
My personal favourite lentil of choice. These lentils are much firmer, as they hold their shape due to the thicker skin on them. Because they retain their shape, they have a more crunchy texture and are fantastic for salads. They do take a little longer to cook, usually about 30 to 35 minutes. Another great way to make French lentils is to cook them as usual on the stove and then crisp them in the oven after. I love adding spices to them and cooking them for about 15 minutes in the oven. Just be sure to dry them off after cooking so they can get crispy.
Just like the French lentil, these also hold up and retain their shape amazingly well. This makes them ideal for salads as well. They can be harder to find, but if you do, I highly suggest picking some up.
Making this french lentil salad with kale is super easy once you have a few things prepped.
Just like any other grain or bean, you'll want to give your lentils a rinse in water first. While you're rinsing them give them a quick look over to see if you need to pick out any shrivelled lentils, or anything that doesn't quite look right. Apparently, you can find little tiny stones in your packaged lentils! I've been eating lentils for a LONG time, and I've personally never encountered this. But it's good practice to pick them over, especially depending on where the lentils are sourced.
Once they're rinsed, go ahead and add them to a pot of salted boiling water. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer for about 25 minutes. Check on them to see if they're done cooking. Depending on how old the lentils are, they can take a bit longer to cook. You want them to still be firm on the outside.
I like using lacinato kale for this salad, but if you can only find the curly kind, that'll work too. Wash and dry your kale leaves and then you'll want to finely slice them into long strands. To do this, take some leaves, and roll them into a cigar like shape. Then slice them into ribbons, and then slice those ribbons in half.
The genius of this recipe comes from the spiced almond mixture. I changed up the spices I used from the Bon Appétit recipe and omitted the lemon peel and scallions. And although you may be thinking it's a lot of oil to use to toast your almonds, you're not wasting any of it! You will be using that oil to dress this salad.
Similar to the original BA recipe, I kept the olives and feta. They add a lot of briny flavour that works really well with this recipe. Simply chop the olives and crumble the feta into the bowl with the kale.
Kale definitely holds up the best if you want to be able to store this salad for a day or two. I recommend lacinato kale as it's a little softer than regualr curly kale, but use what you can get.
I definitely recommend using french lentils or the black beluga ones. They will hold up the best for this salad. I don't recommend another type of lentil as it will get too mushy.
Although the feta adds a really nice touch and flavour, if you can't have dairy, feel free to omit it. Alternatively, use goat cheese or even finely grated parm if thats what you have.
I used a mix of fennel seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds and chili flakes to add to the almonds. Use what you have on hand. I recommend sticking to these types of flavours, but by all means, you don't need to use all three.
If you really hate olives, or just don't have any, you could try another briny flavour like crispy capers. Just fry capers on a non stick skillet for a few minutes (making sure to dry them with a paper towel first). Sun dried tomatoes may also work as well. Or omit them, but the olives do add a lot of flavour!
If you don't have almonds, try using another nut or seed. Pumpkin seeds, walnuts or cashews would all work as well.
The true beauty of this kale and french lentil salad is that it can be made ahead of time and is perfect for meal prep. So if you need a quick lunch idea, prep this the night before.
You really don't need to do anything different to pack it for lunch. Yup, no need to store the dressing separate at all. Kale holds up when dressed, so this salad will hold up in your fridge for a few days.
Alright, are you ready to make this delicious, meal prep friendly french lentil salad with kale?
If you make this recipe, please let me know by tagging me on Instagram, or leave a comment and/or review below!
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A delicious, hearty salad with french lentils, kale, and a savoury spiced almond oil dressing. Perfect for meal prep!
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