Bouchon’s Lentils Vinaigrette Recipe

Salade De Lentilles

Summer summer summer time, let’s just sit back and unwind… Fresh Prince really says it best.

Summer = grilling. Deep grill marks, charcoal perfuming the air, herbs infusing gorgeous ingredients … succulent fish steaming in foil, fat dripping from sizzling meats, tender summer vegetables bathing in olive oil and lemon.

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Time for a side dish: one that can be prepared ahead of time, is refreshing yet substantial on its own, and can compliment anything on the grill.

Allow me to present Thomas Keller’s Lentils Vinaigrette

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This is a very simple and versatile recipe. Being paranoid (or anal) as I am about texture, I sampled the lentils’ doneness every 2 minutes after hitting the 15 minute mark and fished them out one minute before al dente. Keller’s interesting preparation technique is to leave the lentils to cool in their liquid, along with some salt and vinegar so they can develop flavour. The cyber-whimsical presentation is my touch.

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Verdict at the bottom.


Sachet (more info)

  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • black peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • thyme sprigs


  • Le Puy lentils (more info)
  • medium leek, white and light green parts, split in half lengthwise and cleaned
  • medium onion, peeled
  • large carrot, peeled
  • kosher salt
  • red wine vinegar
  • small red onion, peeled

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  • Dijon mustard
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil


  • s&p
  • minced chives
  • chopped Italian parsley


Sachet (more info)

Create a bundle with a piece of cheese cloth and some twine.

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Rinse the lentils with cold water and place it into a sauce pan along with the sachet, leek, onion, and carrot. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

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Remove from the heat, pour the entire contents into a shallow container, season with salt and red wine vinegar, and allow the lentils to cool.

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Whisk the mustard and vinegar together, then slowly whisk in the olive oil. Season with s&p.

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To Serve

Strain the lentils. Dice the red onion to 1/8″ x 1/4″. Add the onion, vinaigrette, chives, and parsley to the lentils and incorporate lightly. Check for seasoning.


Keller described lentils as “almost like caviar as they pop against your palate, but with a sensation of creaminess”.

While I won’t go as far as to comparing them to caviar as they are much denser, I agree that the grainy, yet creamy centre is lovely. What impressed me most was the impact of cooling the lentils in the liquid along with the sachet and vegetables had. The lentils were completely infused with the aromatics and subtly penetrated by the vinegar and salt. Draining the lentils before cooling would not have achieved the same complexity.

The result is a light, yet satisfying salad with a nice bite that will make a comfy bed for almost anything, especially grilled items.

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Here are some ideas of additions if you wish to serve it as a stand-alone salad:

  • diced apples, caramelized onion, lardons
  • diced roasted beets, dried cranberries, walnuts
  • sauteed kale, grainy mustard, capers
  • wild blueberries, candied almonds, goats cheese

Technically, if you mixed and matched any of the ingredients above, it will be guaranteed deliciousness.

Care to share yours?

  1. July 18, 2009 by Lorna Yee

    I love lentils–I’ll have to try this soon!

    Additions: my favorite is cotecchino with lentils, very traditional!

  2. July 18, 2009 by jenn

    Hmmm….I’ve got to give this a try just to get the same reaction. Besides I don’t get enough lentils into my diet. I think I should.

  3. July 19, 2009 by Cookin' Canuck

    I have never thought of letting lentils cool in their own water. What a great way to add flavor. I love your whimsical presentation!

  4. July 19, 2009 by Marlow

    Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  5. July 19, 2009 by Zahavah/Gayle

    as usual, great directions and explanation, beautiful pics, and commentary. i love using de puy lentils for salads!

  6. July 19, 2009 by zenchef

    I love your cyber-whimsical presentation. You fantasy creature!
    I’ve been making lentils the Keller way without even knowing it. Is he… is he… spying on me? :)

  7. July 20, 2009 by Mathilde's Cuisine

    Lentils.. One of my favourite vegetables. This recipe is a classic in France and I think your recipe is a very good one

  8. July 20, 2009 by Hurst Beans

    Thanks for the great recipe, I will have to give these lentils a try.

  9. July 20, 2009 by Fearless Kitchen

    This looks great. Leaving the lentils to cool in their liquid is a great idea that I wouldn’t have thought of myself, but I can see where it would work.

  10. July 20, 2009 by Jessie

    ohhhh great way of incorporating lentils into cooking! I know that lentils is an excellent source of protein and iron. I should be eating more of it too. I’m going to give this awesome vinaigrette a shot

  11. July 21, 2009 by Erica

    I love lentils! That dish looks wonderful.
    Great pictures and beautiful site!

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