The Best and Fastest French Green Lentils

Less than a week after Thanksgiving and I can’t think about eating any more heavy carbs, sugar or meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love all these things, but after 4+ days of eating them, I’m craving lighter meals. These French Green Lentils came together in a whim after I finished a yoga class. So you have to know they are super fast and have the most flavor.

Are lentils nutritious?

Lentils are a nutrition powerhouse. They contain tons of folate, magnesium and fiber. They are a resistant starch which means they move slowly through your system keeping blood sugar level. They also are a prebiotic which means they provide food for your gut microbiome. If you want more information on the nutrition profile, see this post.

Are Lentils Paleo and Whole30 Friendly?

I almost didn’t post this recipe because no, they are not. However, if you have done a Whole30 and found you have no reaction to them, they are great to include in a balanced, real food-centered diet. For those on Paleo, lentils may be a no-go if you are strictly following it for autoimmune reasons. The phytic acids and lectins can cause binding to parts of your body that will create inflammation and cause your body to attack itself.

Are lentils like beans?

They are technically a pulse along with several types of beans. Like beans, they contain a lot of plant-based protein but have more fiber than most beans. There are a rainbow of colors with each producing a different end result. Red and yellow lentils cook down to the thick soup known as Dal. Black and green lentils retain their texture the most and brown lentils kind of fall in between.

Are Lentils a Complete Protein?

No they are not. However, if you are eating other nuts and seeds throughout the day, you will ultimately consume the components to provide all the essential amino acids. If you want to make sure your meal contains complete protein, add a handful of walnuts, pumpkin seeds or other nuts or seeds with your lentils. I love making them into a salad with greens, other veggies, pumpkin seeds and a bright lemony dressing.

What are French Green Lentils?

French green lentils are tiny and have a mottled green/black color. They do not cook down completely into a soup, but retain their shape and firm texture. I happen to love these the most as I’m not a fan of any creamy soup, bean-based or otherwise. They lend themselves nicely to salads especially when combined with acidic ingredients like tomatoes, roasted peppers or lemon/olive oil dressing.

How to Prepare French Green Lentils

Lentils do not NEED soaking time like beans do. That said, if you have bloating or gas when eating them, you can soak them for 2-4 hours in salted water to help reduce or eliminate this issue. Soaking also removes the phytates and other anti-nutrients that can decrease the amount of nutrients we receive from the lentils. (This is true for all grains and beans.) Soaking also makes vitamins MORE bioavailable.

How Long do Lentils Take to Cook?

Lentils take much less time to cook than beans. Typically they take about 20 minutes to cook but can take longer depending on how old your lentils are. Since we don’t typically know that information, you just have to go by texture. You want them to be soft on the outside with a bit of a bite in the center. Again, if you soak them, they will take much less time, so if your lentils are soaked, you may only need 15 minutes to cook them through. Mine have taken up to 40 minutes to completely cook. Note: undercooked lentils (beans, too) can cause digestive upset, so make sure they are cooked through before serving.

Ways to Dress Up Lentils

  • Use lesser amount of broth in recipe and cook out until almost no liquid is left. Drizzle heavily with extra virgin olive oil and a splash of sherry vinegar. Stir in fresh parsley and some red pepper flakes for spicy.
  • Top with chopped herbs such as basil and mint to offset bloating and gas effects of lentils
  • Add a little smoked Chorizo if you eat meat.
  • Serve with a spoonful of dairy-free yogurt and/or grainy mustard
  • Use the smaller amount of broth and allow most of the liquid to cook out. Top with mashed Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes to make a veggie-packed version of Shepherd’s Pie.
  • If you eat grains and dairy, try one of my Pre-Whole30 recipes for Polenta-topped lentils.

The Best and Fastest French Green Lentils


  • 2/3 cup green lentils

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 branch thyme

  • 2 1/2-3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1/2 lemon

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil to taste


  • Combine everything in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft but still have a little bite right in the center. Typically 20-40 minutes depending on how old your lentils are.
  • Squeeze in the juice of a lemon and drizzle heavily with extra virgin olive oil before serving.

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