Spring French Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Fennel & Orange

Created by Laura Wright
5 from 2 votes

Fresh, spring-y, satiating, but still light! This French lentil salad is naturally vegan and filled with crisp sliced fennel and red onions, sautéed asparagus, orange slices, parsley, and chopped walnuts.

An overhead shot shows a french lentil salad with thinly sliced fennel and red onion, sautéed asparagus, orange supremes, chopped parsley and walnuts. Tongs are sticking out of the serving bowl.

Ready within 45 minutes, this spring lentil salad with asparagus, fennel and orange is an ideal potluck or meal prep dish. This cold lentil recipe is made with simple ingredients, like French lentils, red onion, oranges, fennel, asparagus, apple cider vinegar, and olive oil. Lentils and asparagus are cooked on the stove, while you prep the sliced raw veggies and dressing. Filled with light and vibrant flavours, plant-based protein and healthy fruit and vegetables, this simple tossed vegan lentil salad will get the thumbs up from all types of eaters. The juice leftover from slicing the oranges adds perfect sweetness and tang to our spiced homemade dressing!

An overhead shot shows a french lentil salad with thinly sliced fennel and red onion, sautéed asparagus, orange supremes, chopped parsley and walnuts. Tongs are sticking out of the serving bowl.
An overhead shot shows ingredients for a salad: spices, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, oranges, asparagus, olive oil, french lentils, red onion, parsley, fennel, and walnuts.
An overhead shot shows a wooden cutting board filled with thin red onion and fennel slices. A mandolin slicer is perched in the middle.
An overhead shot shows prepped ingredients in bowls: chopped parsley, sliced red onion, sliced fennel, chopped walnuts, chopped asparagus.

I love the classic combo of fennel, orange, and walnut, and am always willing to revisit it in new forms. Sharing inspiration for lentil recipes on here is important to me because these pulses really are amazing. Full of protein and fiber, super satiating, great for cooking ahead, and also the incredible role that they can play in agriculture. A plant-based hero!

In this salad, I have you sauté some chopped asparagus to add an extra spring-y touch. While the lentils and asparagus cook, you can get to work shaving the fennel and red onion. Oranges are peeled and cut into pretty supremes. The remains of the oranges are squeezed into our spring lentil salad dressing. Combined with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, cumin, coriander, and Dijon mustard, the tangy end result is irresistible.

The earthy flavour of lentils plays well with citrus, sharp onion, liquorice-y fennel, and slightly sweet asparagus. Once you finish with peppery parsley and buttery walnuts, it’s a real flavor party, perfect for picnics and potluck gatherings! Getting the right contrasting flavors always makes lentils taste better.

More Vegan Lentil Salad Inspiration:

Stay tuned for more spring/warm weather salad recipes over here. My kitchen has turned into a salad lab in preparation for warmer days haha.

An overhead shot shows sautéed asparagus in a sauté pan.
An overhead shot shows the following ingredients in a large bowl: sliced fennel, sautéed asparagus, chopped parsley, chopped walnuts, cooked French lentils, and sliced red onion.
An up close, overhead shot in direct sunlight shows An overhead shot shows a french lentil salad with thinly sliced fennel and red onion, sautéed asparagus, orange supremes, chopped parsley and walnuts.

Spring French Lentil Salad with Asparagus, Fennel & Orange

Fresh, spring-y, satiating, but still light! This French lentil salad is naturally vegan and filled with crisp sliced fennel and red onions, sautéed asparagus, orange slices, parsley, and chopped walnuts.
5 from 2 votes
An overhead shot shows a french lentil salad with thinly sliced fennel and red onion, sautéed asparagus, orange supremes, chopped parsley and walnuts. Tongs are sticking out of the serving bowl.
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings 4 -6

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup dry French lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • ½ lb asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • ½ small red onion
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 2 medium oranges

Dressing

  • juice from the oranges after cutting into supremes
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Notes

  • I prefer French lentils for lentil salads because they stay nice and firm. Having said that, you could substitute brown lentils here if that’s what you have on hand!
  • You could do pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or almonds instead of walnuts. I just really love walnuts with fennel and orange.
  • A great tutorial for cutting orange supremes can be found here.

Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then simmer until lentils are just tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Cut the asparagus into 2-3 inch lengths (I like to do it on a diagonal). Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Once hot, pour in the olive oil and add the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until asparagus is just tender and bright green, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Use a mandolin or sharp knife to finely shave the fennel and red onion. Place in a large bowl. To the bowl, add the parsley and walnuts. With a paring knife, peel the oranges and cut nice supremes. Then, place the supremes in the bowl as well, reserving what’s left of the orange for the dressing.
  • Make the dressing. Squeeze the remains of the oranges into a medium bowl. To the orange juice, add the apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, cumin, coriander, and olive oil. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dressing over the lentil and vegetable mixture in the large bowl. Add the sautéed asparagus to the bowl and season the whole thing liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with extra chopped parsley and walnuts on top if you like.
A head-on shot shows a bowl with a lentil salad and tongs sticking out. The salad features shaved fennel and red onion, sautéed diced asparagus, orange supremes, chopped parsley, walnuts, and a light vinaigrette.
08/05/2024
Posted in: earthy, gluten free, lentils, quick, salad, side dish, sour, spring, summer, sweet, vegan

4 comments

Recipe Rating




  • n

    5 stars
    another amazing salad! I used pickled red onions instead and it was amazing! salad queen for the win.

  • Janelle

    Do you think canned lentils would work okay here?

    • Laura Wright

      Hi Janelle! You could definitely use canned lentils in this lentil salad. You would need about 2-2.5 cups total.
      -L

  • Méabh

    5 stars
    This has jumped straight to the top of my “big salads” list and I haven’t even made it yet! I imagine it would be beautiful with some finely sliced radishes or cannellini beans through it too. Orange and fennel is such a good combo.