Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette

Hearty and filling this Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette is an easy and elegant healthy weeknight side with a perfect balance of sweet and savory. 

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette | girlinthelittleredkitchen.com

I moved into a new apartment this week.  This move has been in planning stages since the day we moved into our old apartment. . . 4 years ago.

That apartment was always supposed to be temporary – a holding stage if you will in between selling our co-op and going forth and buying a new apartment.  Then the real estate market blew up in New York City and we found ourselves unable to find an affordable to place to live that met our guidelines.  So we settled in our very cozy 1 bedroom apartment.

It was fine at the time, I was only blogging part time, my bake shop was only a dream and I still had a full-time job.  The place was a little small but comfortable and livable, we never thought the day would come that we’d outgrow it because of my work.  Well the day did come, I left my job to blog full-time, started another business and took over half the living room as my office/photography studio.  It was cramped and we needed to live someplace where our living room could be lived in again.   Fast forward, we’ve moved to a big apartment, I have an office and a separate living space but I completely forgot how stressful moving is! Everything I wanted to accomplish at the start of the new year basically was tossed aside while we looked for apartment and then spent weeks packing.  Part of that was my healthy eating goals for 2017.

Warm Lentil Salad | girlinthelittleredkitchen.com

The move is over now and we’ve settled in fairly quickly to our new home.  Sure there’s more furniture to buy, boxes to unpack and we don’t exactly have a place to eat a meal on yet but it’s no excuse to keep on eating badly.  The first thing I did the day after we moved was go grocery shopping and stock my fridge full of fruits and vegetables.  I’m on a mission to eat well and make up for those few weeks of take out.

First on my list is to make this warm lentil salad again.  In between eating out I did managed to sneak in some healthy meals and this was one of them.  This is one of those dishes that begs the question is it a side or is it a salad?

Friends it is both.  Loaded up with vegetables, tart apples, crunchy walnuts, tangy goat cheese and drizzled with a lemon vanilla vinaigrette this lentil salad is a balance of all things sweet and savory.

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette | girlinthelittleredkitchen.com

Most of the sweet comes naturally from the vanilla in the vinaigrette thanks to splash of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract.  What I love about using Nielsen-Massey extracts is that it enhances the flavor of my dish without any added fat, calories or salt.

If you’ve never tried vanilla in a savory dish before, I hope you’ll give a go this time around.  That touch of vanilla elevates this salad to gourmet level standards but in the comfort of your home and the ease of a simple vinaigrette.

Pair this salad with protein or eat it on its own for a filling but hearty lunch and you’re good to go!

For more information on Nielsen-Massey Vanillas please visit them on facebook, twitter, instagram and pinterest.

This post is sponsored on behalf of  Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.  As always all opinions are my own and thanks for supporting brands that I work with.  

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette | girlinthelittleredkitchen.com

Warm Lentil Salad with Lemon Vanilla Vinaigrette
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  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 4 medium rainbow carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 gala or pink lady apple, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • For the vinaigrette:
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Place the lentils in a fine mesh strainer, pick out any shriveled lentils, rocks or debris and thoroughly rinse.
  2. Add to a medium-large saucepan and pour in 3 cups of water.
  3. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the temperature to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with the lid slightly ajar 20-25 minutes. The lentils should be tender but and no longer crunchy or hard when they've finished cooking. Strain the excess liquid and return to the pot.
  4. While the lentils are cooking in a saute pan over medium heat drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the shallots for 2-3 minutes or until soft and add the garlic to cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the carrots to cook for 5-7 minutes until tender but still firm. Remove from the heat.
  5. Add the vegetables to the saucepan with the prepared lentils, stir in the diced apples, walnuts and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper and then gently mix in the goat cheese.
  6. In a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, honey, vanilla extract and olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the salad before serving.
  7. Serve the salad warm or at room temperature.
  8. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days.
Recipe Type: Side Dish


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