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Spinach and Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese and Tart Cherry Vinaigrette

Spinach and Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese and Tart Cherry Vinaigrette

What a wonderful dish. You may think a lentil salad is nothing to get excited about. But you haven’t tried this lentil salad. Paired with the pungent blue cheese, crispy bacon, and slightly sweet dressing, this salad would satisfy even those manly men who feel a salad isn’t a complete meal unless it’s topped with a 12oz steak. There’s no arguing that lentils are protein filled, with even MORE protein per serving than beef (tell that to your manly man), not to mention much kinder to your arteries. They are also much more nutritious, with plenty of calcium, iron, magnesium, and fiber. Dare you to get those kind of statistics out of a slab of beef.

French Green Lentils

If you can, it’s well worth the extra time spent to seek out the elusive French Green (Puy) Lentil. Up until now, we’ve usually just taken the easy way out and bought the basic brown lentils available at the regular grocery. And they are fine. But once you’ve had the French Green Lentil (which we found in the bulk section of whole foods), you may never go back.

Comparing varieties of lentil

The green lentils, unlike the brown ones (right), hold their shape and firmness even after cooking, making for a much more enjoyable, and less mushy texture. If you can’t find green lentils, brown ones will do. You’ll still get all the same flavors in this salad, just with a slightly different texture. Just don’t substitute red lentils (center) which are much quicker to cook. Save these gems for a delicious and hearty lentil soup.

Spinach and Lentil Salad with Blue Cheese and Tart Cherry Vinaigrette

Makes 6 first-course servings. Recipe from Epicurious.


3/4 cup green lentils
7 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
8 bacon slices (about 6 ounces)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup dried unsweetened tart cherries (about 3 ounces)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 1/2 cups baby or regular spinach leaves
1/3 cup blue cheese (about 2 ounces)


In a heavy saucepan cover lentils with water by 2 inches and simmer until just tender but not falling apart, about 15 minutes. Drain lentils well in a sieve. Rinse lentils under cold running water to stop cooking and drain well. In a bowl toss lentils with 2 tablespoons vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. (Lentils may be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered. Bring lentils to room temperature before proceeding.)

In a skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and with tongs transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble bacon.

In cleaned saucepan heat 2 tablespoons oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and cook shallot, stirring, until golden brown. Stir in water, cherries, sugar, and remaining 5 tablespoons vinegar and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a slow stream until emulsified. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

Add half of vinaigrette to lentils and toss well. In another bowl toss spinach with half of lentil mixture, half of bacon, half of cheese, remaining vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste.

Divide remaining lentil mixture among 6 plates and top with spinach mixture. Sprinkle salads with remaining bacon and cheese.

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  1. Rating: 5

    Very popular with vegetarians if you leave out the lardons, good source of protein. I serve it with the lentils warm so the spinach wilts, the blue cheese melts into little puddles. The you can chill it or leave at room temperature. Delicious. 

  2. This was outstanding. Being a vegetarian I did not use bacon, and this made a perfect main dish salad. Thanks much for sharing!

  3. I love this salad.

    By the way, did you take this picture of the salad? If you did, where did you get the silverware? I love it.

  4. Urg… we eat so many lentils in my co-op, I’m not sure I could stomach another lentil dish at this point. But if anything could change my mind, this could… it looks fantastic!

  5. this looks delish! linked it on my blog.

  6. This looks yummy! But I’d have to find a time to make it ONLY for myself. I have a hard time convincing Nathan it’s a meal without meat!

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more about the superior taste of puy lentils. Don’t get me wrong, I love lentils of all kinds, but puy is the only type that I actually crave. Even simply boiled with a little salt and served with basmati rice, they are so flavorful! I can’t wait to try this salad. Thanks for the post!

  8. wow…now that’s something I would definitely eat. Looks amazing.

  9. Yes, what is that with man and having to have a steak on top of a salad..?? :) I do think he is not going to be convinced with me telling him that there is more protein in the lentils… I just don’t think he’s gonna fall for it. I love it though and I might just sneak this in.

  10. Happy to help, Chris! :) We don’t eat a ton of meat, so lentils always make a regular appearance on our table. :)

  11. Lentils are something I tell myself every three months that I will rededicate myself to using more when I cook. then I forget about them after 1-2 meals. Thanks for the kick in the pants reminder recipe.

    This looks great!

  12. There is a stand at the farmers market with every kind of lentil you can imagine! I’ll have to try these; I’m not that experienced with them so it will be fun to experiment.

  13. I love lentil salads – what a great contrast with the cherry and blue cheese!

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