There isn’t much new to report from the Pâte à Chew Kitchen – I’ve been spending these cold winter days primarily working a lot, spending quality time at the gym, and thinking about new and fun recipes to try. I’m also still focused on staying healthy (I promise I didn’t eat too many of the delicious Linzer Cookies I posted last week!). This week I decided to try my hand at a traditional French favorite of mine: salmon with lentils.
This has to be one of my favorite light dishes, as it’s filling and satisfying but not heavy in butter or oil. Plus, it’s got a ton of flavor – red onion, garlic, vinegar, and whole-grain mustard (one of my favorite ingredients!) ensure the lentils aren’t bland or boring. It’s a simple but elegant dish!
One year ago: Lasagna and Garlic Bread
Salmon with Lentils
Total time: 1 hour
The lentils are great on their own. To keep vegetarian (actually, vegan) obviously leave out the salmon and bacon. I left out the bacon because I’m trying to be healthy, and I think the lentils are absolutely fabulous without it.
1 1/2 cups green or black lentils
1/2 red onion, peeled, root end left on
1/2 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
2 bay leaves
1 small bundle thyme
2 cloves garlic, smashed
For the lentil garnish:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
5 slices bacon, cut into lardons (optional)
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
4 or 6-ounce salmon filets
1. To cook the lentils:
In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients; add water to the pot until it covers the ingredients by about 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
Remove the pot from the heat and season the water with salt. Taste the water to make sure it is seasoned. Let the lentils sit in the salty water for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will allow the lentils to absorb the seasoned water. Ladle off 1 cup of the lentil cooking water and reserve.
Remove all the vegetables and thyme from the lentils and discard. Strain the lentils from the water.
2. To assemble the lentils:
Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. If using bacon, add the bacon lardons. When the bacon has rendered off a lot of fat and has become brown and crispy, add the onions. If not using the bacon, just add the diced onions to the heated oil. Season the onions with salt and sweat them until they become very soft and aromatic, about 10 minutes.
Add the celery and carrot. Season with salt and saute over medium heat until the vegetables start to become soft and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the cooked lentils, 1/4 of the reserved lentil cooking water, the mustard and vinegar. Cook until most of the liquid has reduced. Taste for seasoning, add salt or more vinegar, if needed. Serve hot or at room temperature.
3. For the salmon:
While assembling the lentils, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
For the salmon, heat a dry oven-proof saute pan over high heat for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, rub both sides of the salmon fillets with olive oil and season the tops very liberally with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, place the salmon fillets seasoning-sides down in the pan and cook over medium heat without moving them for 2 minutes, until very browned. Turn the fillets and place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salmon is cooked rare. Spoon a mound of lentils on each plate and place a salmon fillet on top. Serve hot.