Dinner tonight! Deborah Madison’s lentil salad

Deborah Madison's lentil salad.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

This quick lentil salad from chef and writer Deborah Madison is rich and filling enough to be served on its own (you might never know it’s vegetarian) or as a generous side.

Lentils are flavored with fragrant bay leaf and garlic, then tossed with a bright lemon vinaigrette, chopped roasted red peppers and fresh thyme, marjoram, parsley and mint. Fold in chopped feta, add a drizzle of olive oil and it’s ready to serve in less than an hour.

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Deborah Madison’s lentil salad

Total time: 40 minutes

Servings: 6

Note: From “The Greens Cookbook.” Puy lentils are at Whole Foods markets, Nicole’s Gourmet Foods in South Pasadena and Monsieur Marcel at the Fairfax Farmers Market. Brown lentils are at Trader Joe’s. Make a day ahead; the flavors improve overnight.



3 tablespoons lemon juice, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and zest, the paprika, cayenne, garlic and salt. Whisk in the olive oil. The dressing should be tart. Taste and adjust seasoning, oil and lemon juice.


1 1/2 cups small French lentils (Puy or brown), rinsed

1 medium carrot, peeled and diced into 1/8 inch cubes

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1 bay leaf

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 medium red bell peppers

2 teaspoons chopped mint

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

1 tablespoon chopped marjoram

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

8 ounces feta cheese, divided

Freshly ground pepper

Red wine vinegar

Good quality olive oil

1. In a medium saucepan combine the lentils, carrot, onion, bay leaf, garlic and salt. Add enough water to cover and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

2. While the lentils are cooking, roast the peppers until charred on all sides. Cool and peel the charred skins. Core, seed and dice the peppers into quarter-inch squares.

3. Drain the lentils into a bowl, reserving the liquid if you wish.

4. Fold the vinaigrette into the warm lentils, followed by most of the red peppers, the parsley, marjoram and thyme. Crumble half the feta and stir it into the salad.

5. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper and red wine vinegar to taste. Garnish with the remaining red pepper, crumbled feta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Each serving: 402 calories; 19 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 12 grams fiber; 22 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 34 mg. cholesterol; 724 mg. sodium.