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Wilted Spinach and Green Lentil Salad

It’s worthy of a table-side show, this wilted spinach and green lentil salad. You could wear a tie and roll a cart alongside the linen draped table. The cart would be set for the fanfare–a large bowl of spinach leaves, and smaller bowls of thinly sliced red onions, seasoned green lentils, toasted pecans, and shaved Cheddar cheese.

Wilted Apinach and Green Lentil Salad | Letty's Kitchen

Even if you make this salad for just you and your sweetie, everyone except the showwoman/man (you) waiting in anticipation, already at the dinner table. Five minutes is all it takes to lightly wilt spinach and toss everything together.

Click here to PIN Wilted Spinach and Green Lentil Salad.


In classic table-side spinach salad, hot bacon dressing wilts and sliced hard-boiled eggs garnish. This vegetarian wilted spinach salad is impressive in its own right.

Toasted pecans add crunch and shavings of sharp aged cheese add saltiness and a finishing flourish.  I used Kerrygold “Dubliner” cheese. Vegans–omit the cheese garnish.

Wilted Spinach and Green Lentil Salad

If your spinach leaves are large, strip away the tough stems and tear the leaves in half. Baby spinach leaves are good in this salad too, but remove the pan from the heat before adding baby leaves, which will wilt in quick seconds.

Our CSA farm share box this week is serving up spinach with large green crinkled, partly smooth leaves, a varietal called Space—the seed that’s the final frontier of spinach breeding. Really, I read it here.

Warm wilting spinach doesn’t wait for photos. I accidentally forgot one ingredient or another and ended up making this salad 4 times, to get it right for blog photos!  First I forgot the vinegar—so the salad lacked pizzazz. Then, whoops, the pecans–no crunch. When I turned off the camera thinking it was a wrap, I remembered the cheese, all prepped in the fridge. Argh!

Lesson learned. Have all ingredients prepped, lined up and ready. Hungry people milling around the kitchen or waiting at the table can also distract from the task at hand.

Peppery green lentils, gently sautéed sweet red onions, glistening barely warm spinach, and tangy balsamic vinegar, with crunchy pecans and sharp cheese–this spectacular wilted spinach and green lentil salad. At the very last minute, when you twist that pepper grinder over the top, expect awe and praise for your cooking prowess.  All takers agree this rustic yet elegant salad is worth any wait. Popeye wouldn’t know what to think.

Wilted Spinach and Green Lentil Salad

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5 from 1 vote
Wilted Spinach and Green Lentil Salad
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
20 mins

This simple and elegantly rustic salad is perfect for dinner on a hot summer evening. Serves 3 to 4 persons.

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Gluten-free, Vegan Friendly
Keyword: wilted spinach salad, vegan, lentil salad
Servings: 4 servings.
  • ½ cup French green lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced red onion
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves , washed and dried (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pecans halves
  • Aged Cheddar cheese , optional
  1. Rinse the lentils, sorting out any rogue mini rocks.
  2. Put the lentils in a saucepan and cover with water at least 2 inches above the lentils. Add the bay leaf and salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook until the lentils are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Be careful not to overcook them or they will loose their shape and texture. (see note)
  4. Drain, discarding the bay leaf.
  5. Toss with the first 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  6. Warm a non-stick skillet over very low heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the red onions. Stir, keeping the heat low.
  7. After a few minutes, when the onions start to make a sizzling noise, add the spinach leaves and lentils, all at once.
  8. Gently toss until the spinach wilts a bit and the leaves are lightly coated with oil. You want the spinach to wilt around the edges but retain some crunch.
  9. Toss with the vinegar and pecans. Season to taste with salt.
  10. Divide among individual serving plates. Garnish with cheese shavings, if using.
  11. Serve immediately.
Recipe Notes
  • If your spinach leaves are large, strip away the tough stems and tear the leaves in half. Baby spinach leaves can substitute, though take care to remove the pan from the heat before adding baby leaves, which will wilt in quick seconds.
  • At higher altitudes it will take more time for the lentils to cook.


  • This looks yummy! And perfect for a wintery Bay Area summer! Reply · 8 July, 2010

  • Thanks! And feta cheese also marries well with spinach… Reply · 8 July, 2010

  • Looks divine, Letty! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve forgotten an ingredient after I thought I was done shooting. Welcome to the reality of blogging. Definitely making this one soon! Reply · 27 June, 2014

    • Letty

      Thanks Kelley! Reply · 29 June, 2014

  • […] The original recipe doesn’t specify which variety of lentils. I used small brown lentils that retain their shape, forgoing the larger lentils that are more suited to lentil soup. I found the lentils in the bulk bin at Whole Foods, and you can order them online here. For small lentil cooking instructions refer to my Spinach Salad with Green Lentils recipe. […] Reply · 21 June, 2015

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