This recipe for Easy French Lentils makes for a wholesome one-dish meal or side dish. Slow simmered with carrots, onions, and celery and then topped with fresh thyme, these French lentils are flavorful and satisfying.
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Wholesome, flavorful, and good for you, these French lentils are a nice meatless alternative to add to your meal prep list. Whether you are looking for a Meatless Monday alternative, a hearty plant-based side dish, or a satisfying lunch option, these French lentils fit the bill. Easily modifiable based on what you’ve got on hand or your taste preferences you can change it up to make it your own.
Are lentils good for you?
Lentils are a great plant-based protein source and are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, especially iron. Easy to prepare and versatile, lentils can be added to soups, salads or eaten as a main meal.
There are several varieties of lentils including green, brown, red, and yellow. French lentils are a type of green lentil known as puy lentils. Most lentils are available canned and dried. If you are using canned, rinse before you use them. If you are using dried lentils note there is no need to soak them beforehand.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe For French Green Lentils
Vegetarian: Perfect for Meatless Mondays, we all need a few vegetarian meal options in our repertoire.
Adaptable: Change up the type of lentil, switch up the veggies, or add more spice.
Versatile: Serve these French lentils for lunch, dinner, or as a side dish. They can also be eaten warm or at room temperature.
Affordable: Lentils costs way less per serving than meat or chicken so if you are looking to trim your grocery budget, consider adding lentil-based meals more often.
Ingredients To Make This Green French Lentil Recipe
- French lentils – These small green lentils cook up quickly and have a nice texture.
- Olive oil – Extra virgin olive oil is best but any kind will work.
- Onion – White onion, diced, tastes great but any type of onion will taste good.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic is best but jarred also works.
- Carrots – Fresh small cubed carrots add flavor and texture.
- Celery – Thinly chopped celery adds more flavor and crunch.
- Fresh thyme – Freshly chopped thyme enhances the taste of the lentils.
- Salt and pepper – Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Water – Water is fine to cook up the lentils but you can also use broth for more flavor.
How To Cook French Lentils
- Step 1: Sauté onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in hot oil until they have softened.
- Step 2: Add fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Step 3: Stir in lentils, then add water, cover, and cook on medium to medium-low for 45 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
Tips and Variations
Change up the lentils. Use a different type of green or brown lentil in place of the French lentils.
Add more veggies. In addition to the carrots and celery, feel free to throw in whatever you have on hand. Frozen veggies work well too.
Mix in some cheese. Top these French Green lentils with feta cheese, goat cheese, or if you want to keep the recipe vegan, a plant-based cheese.
Modify the herb. Thyme adds great flavor but if you don’t have any you can use parsley, oregano, dill or whatever else you have in the fridge.
Lentils do not need to be soaked before you cook them. If you want to sprout them, then they will need to be soaked.
French lentils are smaller than regular lentils and have a softer texture.
Red, brown, and green lentils all have similar nutritional benefits.
Make Ahead and Storage
Make ahead: If you like to get a head start on your busy week you can make this French lentils recipe a few days in advance of when you want to serve it and store it in the fridge.
Storage: Leftovers of this French green lentil recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat over the stove or in the microwave.
Looking for more vegetarian meal options?
- Three Bean Vegetarian Chili
- Low Carb Vegetarian Zucchini Lasagna
- Black Bean Enchiladas
- Quinoa Chickpea Salad
In this recipe I am using my Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Cassadou, 3.75 qt., (color thyme). I love cooking with cast iron because it distributes the heat nicely allowing the food to cook evenly without burning spots. This cassadou is the perfect pot for recipes that require longer cooking times.
Alternatively at a lower price point and amazing quality is this smaller Lodge 3 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Lid, this is not a deep dutch oven which is perfect for this recipe.
Easy French Lentils
- 2 cups French lentils
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup carrots cubed, small
- 1/2 cup celery thinly chopped
- fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 1/2 cups water
- Heat oil in medium pot. Sauté onions, garlic, carrots and celery until vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes).
- Toss in fresh thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir in lentils then add water (or broth). Cover the pot and cook on medium to medium low for 45 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. (see notes)
- Check lentils at about 35-40 in to access the liquid situation. If needed add another 1/4 cup of liquid.
- The lentils should be fully cooked but “al dente” if you like them softer cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.