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French Lentil and Quinoa Salad

Maybe not beyond. Let's just speak about Thanksgiving. Ok so this title kinda came from the Toy Story movie that is on repeat every day in my house. Sometimes you have to be practical about where you're at in your day and not overshoot. When planning a menu, I urge you to think smart. Start pulling dishes onto the list that you can make from before. Things that freeze, or that at least that have elements you can make before hand and just assemble on the big day can really help alleviate some of the meal stress. Set the table from before too.

This salad should go on your menu (and every other menu you ever write).

This French Lentil and Quinoa Salad uses a classic vegetable mirepoix (shallot, carrot and celery) with a perfect blend of savory herbs and aromatics to build a perfect salad. Or is it a side dish? Maybe you decide. My favorite part? You serve it room temperature. It has such an earthy flavor that could compliment poultry or even just be a base underneath a salmon. My personal favorite is to use it by itself as my lunch. With lentils, quinoa and veggies it is a meal in itself.

A special thanks to my sister in law SZ for bringing this inspiration back from her Caribbean vacation way back when. xoxo

French Lentil and Quinoa Salad

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

1 cup brown lentils

1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt

1 bay leaf

2 shallots, diced small

2 cloves garlic, chopped (or 2 frozen cubes)

2 large carrots, peeled and diced small

2 large celery stalks, peeled, and diced small

2 teaspoons thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

ground black pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients:

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard or dijon

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Rinse the lentils and pick through them to make sure there are no small stones or twigs (yum). Put the lentils plus 1 ½ cups of water, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and the bay leaf in a small pot. Cover the pot and set it over a medium flame on your stove. Once it is simmering, lower the heat all the way and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste the lentils for doneness. You do not want the lentils to be too al dente, but you do not want them to be too mushy either. If they need more time, test again in another 4 minutes. Once they are done, drain any excess water in a strainer and let them air dry in the strainer for an additional 20 minutes. Throw out the bay leaf.

Take your 1 cup of quinoa and put it in a second small sized pot. Add 1 and ¾ cup of water and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover the pot and put over a medium flame until it boils. Lower the flame to the lowest setting and cook until all of the water is absorbed. Set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the onion and garlic with ¼ teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and chopped thyme the last tablespoon of oil, the last ¼ teaspoon of salt, and some fresh black pepper. Cook for an additional 4 minutes. Turn off the flame. Add your cooked lentils to the pan and toss everything together so the lentils are really coated with vegetable mixture. Take that lentil/vegetable mixture and pour it into a serving dish or storage dish (like a pyrex). Add your quinoa to that dish and mix it all together.

Make your dressing: In a separate bowl, whisk together the Dijon, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Slowly add the olive oil drop by drop to form a cohesive emulsified dressing. Dress the lentils 30 minutes before serving.

Plan Ahead:

This salad can be made 3 days in advance. Dress 30 minutes before serving. Once the salad is dressed it is still delicious and leftovers will last in the fridge 1 week from the day the quinoa and the lentils were cooked. If you want to serve room temperature, remove from the fridge 2 hours before serving. Alternatively, you can warm in a 250 degree oven for 30 minutes (covered) to get the icy edge off.

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