French Lentil Salad

November 17, 2015

This French lentil salad with arugula and cashew cheese is an elegant meal for lunch or dinner that is loaded with protein and fabulous flavor.

This French lentil salad with arugula and herbed cashew cheese is an elegant meal to serve for lunch or dinner that is loaded with protein and incredible flavor.

This French lentil salad recipe comes from the Food52 Vegan cookbook by Gena Hamshaw.

Gena’s latest cookbook is based on her popular New Veganism column that she has been writing for Food52 since 2012.

Gena’s recipes are always accessible and full of flavor, making them appealing to seasoned vegetarians and foodies, as well as omnivores looking for more creative vegetable dishes to add to their repertoire. No matter what your dietary stripes there are some incredible recipes to get you excited about vegetables in this book. Gena has included the most popular dishes from the column, and created 60 new recipes for breakfasts, appetizers, snacks, soups, salads, main meals, desserts, and homemade staples.

Some of my favorites include: tempeh and sweet potato hash; polenta with greens, roasted tomatoes, and lentil walnut crumble; sweet pea hummus; summer rolls with spicy peanut sauce; gingered carrot bisque; Jamaican jerky chili with quinoa and kidney beans; kale salad with kabocha squash, toasted hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds; orecchiette with creamy leeks and broccoli rabe; asparagus, arugula, and pesto pizza; mushroom, pecan, and lentil burgers; cauliflower and oyster mushroom tacos; chai-spiced bread pudding; blackberry coconut ice cream; raw citrus cheesecake; and this French lentil and arugula salad with herbed cashew cheese that I am sharing today.

This salad is such a great recipe for the holiday table. The nut cheese adds fabulous flavor. Cashew cheese is so easy to make, and is soft and spreadable, so you could use any extra you have on crackers or to slather on veggie sticks. If you’ve never cooked lentils before, it is quick and easy! Here are Gena’s tips: 

“Lentils are quicker to prepare from scratch than beans and add great texture and nutrition to dishes. To cook them, start with about 1 cup (200g) of red, brown, or Le Puy (green) lentils. Pick out any that are discolored or shriveled. Rinse the lentils under running water, then combine them in a saucepan with 2 1⁄2 cups (590ml) of water. Bring the water to a rapid simmer, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Add extra water as needed so that the lentils remain barely submerged. Simmer the lentils for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re tender but retain some chew. (Red lentils take less time to cook because they’ve been split, so they’ll likely be tender in 20 to 25 minutes.) Drain them, then season with salt and pepper to taste. 1 cup (200g) of dry red, brown, or Le Puy lentils will make between 2 and 2 1⁄4 cups (400 to 450g) of cooked lentils.”

In fact, my favorite thing about the book is the tips dotted throughout that serve as Gena’s Vegan 101 intro course. Learn about how to use millet, tempeh, tofu, and nutritonal yeast; get the lowdown on sweeteners and dairy-free milks, the best way to cook quinoa and beans; making flax and chia eggs; and tricks like how to add a smoky flavor to dishes, pressing tofu, tips for creaming up vegan soups, and strategies for building the ultimate veggie burger.

Scott has been cooking his way through Gena’s book learning so much, and I am the lucky taste tester! The verdict: delicious! Gena’s recipes are easy to follow for novice cooks because they contain just a handful of ingredients (for the most part) and utilize fresh ingredients you can find at most grocery stores.

We bought some extra copies to give away as holiday gifts for friends and family. There is stunning photography throughout, and what a great way to transform your health in 2016!

Get your copy of Food52 Vegan and learn more about Gena at The Full Helping.

Excerpts reprinted with permission from Food52 Vegan, by Gena Hamshaw, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. 


French Lentil Salad

This French lentil salad with arugula and cashew cheese is an elegant meal for lunch or dinner that is loaded with protein and fabulous flavor. 

Prep Time 50 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Author Tess Masters


herbed cashew cheese:


  • 1/3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 1/2  cups (375g) cooked Le Puy green lentils, drained well
  • 2 cups (60g) firmly packed baby arugula leaves
  • 1 cup (115g) thinly sliced radishes
  • 1 cup (50g) chopped endive
  • 1 cup (105g) sliced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup (12g) chopped fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup (35g) toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup (60g) Herbed Cashew Cheese (above)


  1. To make the cashew cheese, throw the cashews in a food processor or high-speed blender. Add the nutritional yeast, salt, herbes de Provence, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. Pulse a few times to break the cashews down until they have a wet, coarse, mealy texture.
  2. With the motor running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the water. Now it’s time for some kitchen intuition: keep adding water, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the work bowl, until the mixture has a good consistency. It should be similar to thick hummus—a little coarse, but smooth and spreadable. You may not need all of the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. (If using a blender, start on a low speed and gradually increase to high speed as you add the water, using a plunger attachment the entire time to keep the mixture blending.)
  3. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Stored in a covered container in the fridge, the cheese will keep for about 5 days.
  4. To make the salad, grab a small bowl or measuring cup, and whisk together the olive oil, shallot, salt, lemon juice, vinegar, and mustard until evenly blended.
  5. In a large bowl, stir together the lentils, arugula, radishes, endive, cucumber, and dill. Drizzle evenly with the dressing, then toss or stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Stir in the walnuts and season with black pepper to taste. Dot the top of the salad with small bits of the cashew cheese (about 1⁄2 teaspoon each).
  6. Serve the salad right away, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from Food52 Vegan, by Gena Hamshaw, copyright © 2015, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.  

Photograph copyright © 2015 by James Ransom