Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

Have you seen the little book, Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal? It's great on many fronts, and I made these Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil from it.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

There is a tiny, thoughtfully curated bookstore on a North-west corner of San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood. I was a few minutes early for a lunch nearby and couldn't help but pop in for a quick browse. Five minutes later I walked out with Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal. It is an inspired volume by long-established Seattle book store owner Peter Miller celebrating the simple pleasures achieved by taking and appreciating (what I consider) a proper lunch. The emphasis is firmly put on food that is simple, fresh, thoughtful, and often communal. Said another way - lunch doesn't need to be complicated or elaborate to be meaningful.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and BasilLentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and BasilLentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

Taking time for lunch. This book struck such a note with me because there are few things that can make more of a difference in your day than this gesture. It's something I believe in, and something I do my best to put into practice whether I'm sitting down by myself, with a few friends, or with many. There is something incredibly positive and optimistic about this small volume with the happy, tomato-red cover. On a practical level it is filled with thoughts and advice on how to eat well, pace your day, and stock your work pantry...but it comes together into something beyond the sum of its sections and chapters. I love that it exists as a reminder of how important this break in the day can be - how it can help relationships grow, how it can help energize, nourish, and revive, and how in-sourcing lunch can bring a bit of magic to a work environment.

Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

I made the Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil. A double batch, in fact. It was enjoyed on walnut bread, tartine-style, for multiple days. Friends that can't handle wheat or gluten can enjoy this combination on appropriate crackers or wrapped in a sturdy, fresh leaf of romaine lettuce. It has lentils, loads of spinach (arugula is great too), herbs, and Greek yogurt - a hearty, healthy, satisfying line-up of ingredients that set you up strong for the rest of the afternoon!

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Lentils folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil

5 from 6 votes

Make the lentil mixture ahead of time, then assemble at work. It's great atop a slice of toasted bread, on its own, or in a lettuce leaf.

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach or arugula
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
  • to serve: grilled/toasted bread and/or romaine lettuce leaves
  1. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts or walnuts and cook until lightly toasted, 5 to 7 minutes. Lay them out on a wood cutting board to cool, then chop them roughly to the size of the lentils.
  2. If your knife is sharp enough to slice the spinach and basil leaves without bruising them, gently cut them into bite-sized pieces. Otherwise, tear by hand.
  3. Place the lentils in a bowl and mix in the spinach, basil, parsley, and garlic. Squeeze the lemon into the lentils (mindful to omit the seeds), mix, and then fold in the yogurt. Mix again, and then pour in the olive oil, stirring, as you do, to combine. At this point, taste the mixture, and season with salt, and two good grindings of pepper. Finally, fold the roasted nuts into the dish, and finish with a drizzle of oil.
  4. The lentils and greens will keep in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for at least three days.
  5. When you're ready to assemble, bring the lentil mixture to room temperature. Give it a taste, and adjust with more salt or some lemon juice. It can go on toasted levain, or along with lettuce (as more of a salad), or in a large lettuce leaf (as a wrap). Finish with some Parmesan shavings. I also couldn't help add some herb flowers I had on hand, but those are, of course, optional.
Prep Time
7 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
17 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


I just loved this. Completely. It is a great way to eat a lower carb, higher greens lunch. Yes one good sourdough slice never hurt. But what I also did was buy _Lunch at the Shop_ by Peter Miller. It is captivating, so out of the box and a fantastic twist to leading life differently! (which is what one gets on your pages anyway... but his descriptive of how his office works, is just amazing!) Just read a few first pages on Kindle and I am sold! Thank you so so so much!


    Yes, it's fantastic. I'm so glad you're enjoying that special little book. xx!

    Heidi Swanson

Absolutely love this recipe. So different and delicious. Perfect lunch meal and sure to impress. I prefer the walnut and spinach combo (walnuts give a better crunch than pine.)

Kim Webster

Yum, to me this sort of food screams Seattle--a relaxed vegetarian spread splurging quietly on a quick shave of Parmesan. (A little homesick now...) Thanks for sharing. Maybe this will be my quiet midday repose today, on some of the gluten-free rye-like bread I just made.


It's amazing how meals are no longer a focus point in our lives, it's no wonder why we have so many medical conditions and no sense of ourselves. Happy lunching!


Hooray! I live in Seattle as an architect and Peter Miller's bookstore is one of my favorite places in the city -- a lovely man and shop. It's an architecture bookstore, but sometimes all good things reinforce themselves and things like his lunch cookbook appear in the midst of it all. It is true what you said -- that the sum of its pieces gestures to something much more. A mindset such as the one embodied his book manifests itself across the board of all things good -- food, architecture, design... pretty much all art... So happy to see this! x


I made this and it's delicious. I used regular fat yogurt. I substituted carrot tops for parsley. I don't really see a need to put it on or in anything. I just ate a bowl of it for breakfast. I overcooked the lentils a bit but it didn't seem to matter. Next time I might stir the salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice into the yogurt so that I'm not messing with it so much.

Courtney Angeli

So true about the importance of taking time for lunch, to focus on food and self and others, and not on the computer screen! I say this as I wrap up my time in grad school, where I study architecture in New York. There's such a culture of rushing lunch, isolated, for the sake of the deadline, which only serves to build up stress. Lunch is a time to breathe and remember the details of taking care, which is ultimately what life is for! Thanks for a nice idea for lunch... I love all the elements.


I was just talking about this with a friend of mine the day before yesterday (about eating a proper lunch, not the recipe - though I'm bookmarking that to be made soon). Neither she nor I ever take the time to make much of anything interesting for lunch. For me it's always just a salad of whatever I have around. We decided it came down to the fact that we often wind up eating lunch solo (working from home) and so we just don't make the effort. Another friend of mine is someone who will spend two hours making a perfect risotto when it's only him, and once I expressed my surprise at this and said that I never cook anything involved when it's just me because it's not worth the effort. His response: "That is the saddest thing I've ever heard." True. Meals to me will always be better when shared with other people, but I'm pretty good company for myself too :)


After moving recently -- and letting go of hundreds of cookbooks I'd been collecting for years - my criteria for new books is that they must be well designed, uniquely charming and deliciously irresistible. This one fits the bill!


Just made this and it's yum. Substituted yellow lentils, kale for the spinach, and a splash of cider vinegar for the lemon. Next time I'll add more greens. Thanks for the great recipe!


I work from a home office, in a rural setting. I live with my dog and cat on 8 wooded acres with 140 acres surrounding me - that I can walk on. I am a computer programmer. I have struggled with the habit of eating at the computer - not always working, but still...at my desk. I get out for multiple walks but rarely sat down at my table to eat. In a somewhat drastic measure :) - I bought a kitchen island with eating area that allows me to sit higher, under a light tube or in sunlight and see out my kitchen windows - my kitchen table is low, not comfortable... At any rate, the "change of scenery" has helped me move away from my desk & office area and have my meals as a separate experience. As another work from home commenter said - sometimes it is a shorter break than others, but I agree with her - "a gift to myself".


I thought this was delicious! I ate it as a side dish to grilled salmon. As a note, I used far less olive oil - probably 1 1/2 T - and didn't think it suffered at all.


It looks awesome. I've been really thinking on how to upgrade my toast, so is not just butter or cheese, and you just gave me the answer!

Angel Reyes

What a great post! I am saddened by the fact that people eating at their desk every day as they continue to work has become the norm in many offices. As a freelancer who works from home I really appreciate taking a moment and eating a properly prepared lunch. At a table and away from the computer! Some days deadlines loom and it's hastier than others, but it's a small gift to myself that makes a big difference.

Angela DeCenzo

I LOVE your recipes, and this is no exception - looks delicious! With that said, whenever I see the photos of your food, I have to laugh when I think about plunking it down in front of my extremely picky (like weird picky, has to keep all foods separate on a plate) 9 year old son. Ah, the look on his face! Lol... :)


This is calling to me. I think I've found lunch for the rest of the week. :)

Christina @ but i'm hungry

I just made this with a few variations - I toasted some sunflower seeds and mushrooms I had on hand, used cilantro and arugula instead of parsley and spinach, and threw in a few handfuls of sprouts I had - pea and clover. I also put in some cayenne for a bit of kick instead of coarse black pepper. i need to cook the red lentils for a little less next time, but it is otherwise amazing. thank you for this and all of your other divine recipes. xx chrystal


This looks so fresh and fantastic! I'm going to make this recipe this upcoming weekend! Thanks for sharing, Heidi :)

Lisa @ Simple Pairings

I love this idea of in-sourcing lunch. We've lost the art of lunching, haven't we. It's sad but with conscious effort perhaps we can all do our part to bring it back. Your description of the book's purpose seemed to fit your own purpose seamlessly so its no surprise why you took a liking to the book! This tartine looks gorgeous!

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

Great post, Heidi. I completely agree with you and love the recipe! I just ordered the book off of Amazon. Thanks!

Nicole Sedmak

I saw this on food52 just a little while ago and made it right away for lunch with friends. It's delicious! You make it look even more beautiful and now I'm inspired to make it again. Thanks!


This look so amazingly delicious! Lentils mixed with yogurt and creme fraiche are one of my favorite things! I may just have to add a bit of smoked mackerel on top :)

Rachael | Spache the Spatula

I'm not sure which sounds better, the salad (which I will make promptly, with the cooked green lentils in my fridge), or the book (which I've just ordered). Thank you for sharing both!


Finally something to get out of my rut! I have felt so uninspired but this lentil recipe excites me! Thanks! AND I love Christopher's, the restaurants on 18th and my old 'hood!

Marirose Piciucco

I stumbled across Christopher's last summer when we were on vacation in the City, and my daughter wanted reading material on a Sunday morning. We rode the bus up from the Mission to Potrero and bought books. I'm sorry I didn't know about Plow then, or I might have stuck around for brunch.


YES! When I was up at Barbara Jo's for a book event she was talking non-stop about this book and this was such a nice reminder, Heidi. Just ordered it. Love the idea + should really strive for a little more of that at Marge. xox

Megan Gordon

As someone who sadly eats lunch at her desk all too often, catching up on news stories and blogs (including this one!) I love the sound of this book--and this salad, which I am going to make as soon as possible. Wonderful post and photos!


This looks absolutely wonderful, and now I am sitting here wanting that magic red little book, it's so cute, and I find that reading these reminders itself even makes me relax more. The walnut bread looks fantastic too! Is there a recipe for this on your blog, oooor was it store bought? *crosses fingers there is a recipe here* I hope you have a lovely day :) x

Jules @ WolfItDown

Just made this for lunch, and literally can't wait until lunchtime to eat it. Absolutely delicious!! (Added some fennel fronds to complement the basil - super yummy)


A healthy lunch enjoyed away from a computer screen -- nourishing for body and soul. I'll definitely be trying a vegan version of this one. Thanks!

Anne @aveganadventure

I used to live on Potrero hill in the early nineties and loved to browse the little book shop on that corner. In fact I bought my beloved copy of the book "Verdura" by Viana la Place there. How wonderful that it is still there! The lentil lunch spread sounds lovely too, i will have to make it for lunch soon.


Lunch has to be my fave meal of the day after dessert:). Taking the time to prepare a quick meal during the day in credibly therapeutic. I simply love the book you are describing! I have to get myself a copy/


Thank you for sharing such beautiful words about the humble middle-meal, I couldn't agree more with the sentiment. This recipe also looks divine.


i love simple recipes like this. interesting ingredients, easy for lunch, snack, or as a weeknight appetizer. thanks for sharing.


How you make a lentils tartine look good, I don't know! I shouldn't be surprised by now. Loving these pictures and off to check out this book now, the cover only is lovely!


Love love love lentils and yogurt. It's such an unusual pairing, but it just works. My favorite is a lentil onion yogurt casserole topped with extra sharp cheddar cheese. Delish!

Erica Julson

Just simple n delicious...true tat food doesnt have to be complicated to be delicious...cant wait to try it...


This is my kind of lunch! I will be trying this recipe very soon. And what a charming little book. As always, thank you for the beauty and inspiration.


This looks so delishious! I love lentils and bread of course. Your pictures look absolutely amazing and I am really looking forward to preparing this dish! Thank you so much for sharing!

Mademoiselle Gourmande

Heidi, no matter what you make, even the simplest food looks like a treasure for the appetite. I'll be thinking of this open face sandwich all day. You have a way with simple that is simply exquisite. Still a fan all these years later.


I was just thinking the same thing today, as I sat down for lunch. When I'm at home, and working, it is pure luxury to step away from my computer and enjoy lunch at the kitchen table. Even if it's only leftovers, the chance to stop and pause renews me for the rest of the day.

Elizabeth Minchilli

I love the sound of this book. Even though I eat lunch at my desk in the office most days, I've tried to make it feel that little bit special and take a few minutes out of the working day to really enjoy it. This recipe sounds really lovely.


Spinach, Arugula, Basil, Parsley and Garlic will be hand picked from my garden in a month or two and i will make this. Thank you from my presious garden, so i can make this lovely recipe as fresh as it can get..


Dear Heidi, I'm constantly eating lentils with joghurt these days, thanks to you. And I make a cauliflower salad with black pepper, too. I bought super natural everyday when it came out (three years ago?) and even though I used it occasionally it is only now that I find it incredibly inspiring and resourceful and I wanted to thank you for that. I'll try my take on your macaronn tarte today and I'm excited (it'll be my first attempt in a vegan macaroon topping). Anway, thank you. you give me food for thought on so many days.


So agree about taking time for lunch. This past year I have made a real effort to get away from my desk at lunch and go sit somewhere nice either with a friend or a good book and some delicious food. This recipe looks delicious for perhaps adding to a wrap and taking to the park on a good day.

Caroline @ Shrinking Single

What a charming book! I've been a Potrero Hill resident for 10 years - I'm a huge fan of Christopher's and I just had lunch at Plow today. This post makes me so happy. I can imagine how lovely this dish must taste with bright herbs, tart yogurt, and earthy lentils. Thank you for sharing the recipe - I hope to make it soon.


I find it very hard, at times, to make my point about the importance of a proper lunch break within the work day. Many times, taking a full lunch break is seen as laziness, or lack of initiative. Only the more forth-seeing encourage employees to take it, knowing that is crucial for creativity and productivity. My biggest dream would be, one day, being able to go home for lunch and make something good but delicious to enjoy at my own table. It happened once in my not-so-long working career and it was such a pleasure. Most of the time, it was about some leftover grains or pulses tossed in salads – quick and nourishing. This one sounds absolutely delicious. The lentil-toyoghurt ratio being 1:1 makes me think it is going to be extra creamy, and definitely worth a try! Thank you for sharing the book, too.


I can't wait to give this recipe a whirl. It sounds fabulous!

dishing up the dirt

Gorgeous & unusual. Classic 101 :-)


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