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A big bowl of delicious: Lentil, Onion and Goat’s Cheese Salad

lentil salad

I’ve got a question: is it possible for something to be your “favourite” if you’ve only had it once? I mean, the word favourite generally implies a lengthy relationship, doesn’t it? If it is possible, though, I’ll say this: this is my favourite lentil salad. Favourite despite the fact that I’ve only just made it for the first time, and probably don’t have that many other lentil salads to compare it to. What I mean is: this is really, really good.

It’s not that surprising; basically this salad is just a big bowl of my all-time favourite foodstuffs. Lentils? Check. Goat’s cheese? Check. Caramelized onions? Oh, check. With some walnuts, fresh parsley and balsamic vinaigrette thrown in, this probably should have come with a warning label. 

The idea for this salad has been brewing in my mind for a while now, and comes from a few other recipes. The gourmet food shop around the corner from me makes a similar one, minus the onions and plus some fresh pomegranate seeds. Also delicious, but pomegranates aren’t exactly local (or in season, for that matter). I think the caramelized onions are what makes this really delicious. Like I said on Sunday, I’ve recently become of fan on the Arab street food Mejadarah, a ridiculously addictive combination of caramelized onions, lentils and rice. Truthfully, I can leave or take rice, but onions and lentils? Wonderful together.

I use all types of lentils in my cooking, but here the French Puy kind really are best. They hold their shape and don’t become mushy, so work well in salads. Actually, I confess that I don’t buy the pricey Puy kind, but rather the ones labeled “Lentilles vertes” at Sainsbury’s. Essentially the exact same thing, except much cheaper and likely not grown in the Le Puy region. 

A quick note about the onions: I know folks can be quite divided on the whole adding sugar/not adding sugar thing. I never add sugar when caramelizing onions- they just don’t need it. To my mind, sugar is just a way of speeding up the process, a  way to cheat the sweet flavour that could be achieved through time alone. Cooked oh-so-slowly, in a pan that’s barely warm, onions will become astonishingly sweet anyway, so no sugar needed. Normally, I do like a bit of butter in my caramelized onions, though, and I’ll use a mixture of that and olive oil. For this recipe, using only olive oil seemed to make sense, but you do as you like!

lentil salad

  • Lentil, Onion and Goat’s Cheese Salad
  • serves 4
  • 1 cup Puy lentils
    2 medium onions
    1/4 cup olive oil
    pinch sea salt
    2/3 cup chopped walnuts
    1/2 cup crumbled goat’s cheese
    1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
    2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
    2 Tbs. olive oil
    sea salt and black pepper 
  • 1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Rinse and drain the lentils, and add to the water when it boils. Boil rapidly, uncovered, for 10 minutes before turning down the heat, covering, and cooking for another 30-35. 

    2. While the lentils are cooking, peel and thinly slice the onions. Put in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium low heat and cover. Leave for 4-5 minutes, until all the moisture has evaporated. At this point, add 1/4 cup olive oil and a good-sized pinch of salt. Cover, turn the heat down to low and leave for anywhere from 20-45 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. (The time will depend on many factors, including your pan, stovetop and the amount of onions you’re cooking.) When they’re done to your liking, set aside to cool slightly. 

    3. When the lentils are done, drain and rinse with cool water. Add to the pan with the onions (if they’re done cooking), and add the walnuts, goat’s cheese, parsley, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Mix gently to combine, and salt and pepper to taste. This can be served warm or at room temperature, and will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for several days.


  1. Kalyn says:

    I can see right away why this is worth of being called your favorite lentil salad!

  2. Mac says:

    Ooooooooh, this looks delicious. I will try the recipe and then post back here to report on my findings… can’t wait!

  3. Ele says:

    Kalyn, thanks. I’m already craving this again!

    Hi, Mac! Let me know if you like it… :)

  4. MH says:

    I actually bought lentils today! I thought this looked so good I had to make it!

    So tell me again, I have to soak them first right? Overnight? Then drain and cook?

    lentil neophyte

  5. Ele says:

    Dear Lentil Neophyte,

    No soaking needed! Lentils just need to be rinsed in a sieve and cooked in a pot of boiling water for anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes, depending on the kind you bought. Dried beans and chickpeas do need to be soaked for 8 hours, though.


  6. [...] I’m still experimenting with non-green salads, too. I loved the Spicy Broccoli Salad I made earlier in the month (alas, so did the neighbourhood birds), and just last week I hit flavour combo gold with my Lentil, Onion and Goat’s Cheese Salad. [...]

  7. Mac says:

    FINALLY! Almost a year later, I prepared this for lunch today using Puy Lentils and fresh parsley just plucked from my Toronto garden. I’m eating it as I type. t’s flipping DELICIOUS! The walnuts give it some crunchy texture and the caramlized onions are tangy and succulent. I’ll definitely make this again in the future. Thanks, Ms. E!

  8. Marc says:

    Re: Onions

    I like to use shallots with lentils in the same way you use onions. They dissolve into a sweet(er) mush without the need ever to dream of adding sugar. I have never/will never add sugar to onions or shallots. It’s unnecessary, and surely adding a processed food like refined sugar, even in small quantities, to healthy, natural ingredients defeats the kitchenist/ecotarian ethic?

  9. Ele says:

    Marc, I totally agree, which is why I never add sugar either. I like shallots too but I usually fall back on onions, if only because I always have them in the house, and rarely have shallots. I do like the idea of them turning to a mush, though- I’ll have to try them for a jam/confit sometime.

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  11. Ruth says:

    I made this tonight and I must say it is lush. It has a very velvety texture and comforting to eat. I sprinkled some pomegranites on top too. Will definitely be making this receipe again. Thank you….