This is a big favorite of my DS. Hee, hee-- he's 1/2 French Canadian on his dad's side, and has always loved French food-- I guess it's in the genes. Salmon and lentils are a classic French combination. This recipe is a definite keeper-- not only is it really delicious, I can usually get it on the table in an hour or less. I enjoy salmon not only because it tastes good, but also because it tastes like home. Isn't it amazing how evocative taste and smell can be? One taste of salmon and I'm back in my grandmother's kitchen.
Whole Foods had both Atlantic and Sockeye Salmon available, and I forgot to specify which I wanted, so I ended up with the Atlantic salmon. It's so much paler in color than the Sockeye! I would have said something, except I had asked the fish person to remove the skin and she had already started cutting when I realized I didn't want the Atlantic! While the Atlantic salmon is very tasty, I still prefer the sockeye. I guess it's because that's what I grew up eating.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my Nation, the Anishinaabe live mostly in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota. We are also known as the Ojibwe and the Chippewa, but our name for ourselves is Anishinaabe, which means "the original people." Anyway, my dad was born on a reservation in Minnesota, but during the 2nd World War, my family was relocated to the West Coast.
Port Orchard, Washington is "home" for my large extended family (I have about 50 first cousins!). My sister was born at the naval hospital in Bremerton, where my grampa worked. We lived with my grandparents in Port Orchard when I was very small, and some of my most vivid memories are of my grandfather making popovers for breakfast and my grandmother cooking Sockeye salmon.
Whenever I go "home" to visit, I always try to stop by the Pike Place market in Seattle and get a whole salmon cut into steaks and put on dry ice to take back with me. I truly feel like I have a treasure with me, and I ration the frozen salmon steaks out so they last as long as possible.
This particular recipe is from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home and it features salmon fillets with Lentilles Du Puy-- the tiny, black-ish green lentils the French are so enamored of, and rightly so!
I love them too. They have a nice peppery flavor, keep their shape when cooked, and have a somewhat firmer texture than regular brown lentils. The lentils combine wonderfully with a mustard vinaigrette and some crispy pancetta. Together, the salmon and the lentils are sublime.
Here is what you will need to make
1 c. green French lentils, lentilles du Puy
½ t. kosher salt
2 oz. pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 6 oz. pieces center-cut salmon fillet, skin removed
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 fresh lemon juice
Additional kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 T. white wine vinegar
2 t. Dijon mustard
2-4 T chicken stock
2 T chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or basil
1. Place the lentils in a large saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover by 1 in. Add the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender, 20–25 min.
2. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, 3–5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
3. Pour off all but 1 T fat from the skillet and add the onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
4. Preheat the oven to 400F. Arrange the salmon in one flat layer in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 T of the olive oil and the lemon juice. season with salt and pepper.
Bake until barely cooked through, 10–12 min.
5. Drain the lentils well and return to the saucepan. Add the vinegar and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pancetta, the cooked onion mixture, the remaining ¼ c. olive oil, and 2 T of the chicken stock. Stir well and add more stock if necessary to make a moist lentil mixture. Stir in the herbs at the last minute.
I know this isn't the most beautiful looking thing in the world, but trust me, the taste of this lentil salad more than makes up for its drab appearance.
Serve each piece of salmon with some of the lentil salad.
I like serving this dish with some kind of garlicky greens on the side-- in this case, chard was on special at WF so we had a combination of red and rainbow chard sauteed with garlic in olive oil. We are all very fond of chard, so much so that I almost don't mind how long it takes to wash and chop it for cooking! It cooks down so much you need LOTS. DS and I love ours with umeboshi plum vinegar on it, but I usually serve DC's plain (he's not so adventuresome as my DS and me!).
Here is the "recipe" for the chard (this is for you, Donna! :) )
Here is DS's plate, up close and personal! He went back for seconds on the lentils, and ate every scrap of his chard