For the past few weeks my family has been on a pretty intense health kick. Now, I like to eat fresh, non-processed foods, however, the way in which I prepare them is not always considered “healthy”. Although not purely wholesome considering the slab of butter on the salmon and the bacon in the stewed lentils, the meal is still nutritious. Salmon is an excellent source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and lentils also provide protein as well as fiber and iron. One night it was just my mom and I for dinner so we decided to make this somewhat healthful (and somewhat gourmet) meal after having Anne Burrell make it look totally delicious on her show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. Aside from Ina Garten, who is just impossible to top, Anne Burrell is one of my favorite food network stars. I feel that her dishes are authentic and you can tell by her tips that she is so knowledgeable about food and flavors. I found this dinner to be completely satisfying, yet not make me feel bad about myself afterwards since there is significant nutritional value.
This is really two separate recipes but I decided it might be helpful to write the “Method” exactly how I prepared this entire meal in the kitchen. My timing seemed to work nicely!
Salmon with Herbed Butter & Stewed Lentils
Ingredients (serves 2)
For the salmon:
- 1 lb. salmon fillet, skin on
- kosher salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 Meyer lemon
For the herbed butter:
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
- 1/2 bunch dill
- 1/2 bunch thyme
- 1 small clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
To cook the lentils:
- 3/4 cup green lentils
- 1/4 fennel bulb
- 1/4 red onion
- 1/2 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1 small bundle thyme
To prepare stewed lentils:
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 slices bacon, cut into lardons
- 1/2 red onion, finely diced
- 1 small carrot, finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and finely chopped
In a large sauce pan combine all ingredients to cook the lentils, except salt. Add water to the pot until it completely covers all the ingredients. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
While the lentils are cooking prepare the herbed butter. Combine all the ingredients for the herbed butter in a small bowl. Smash ingredients with a fork until everything is well mixed.
Also, while lentils are cooking pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees and prepare the salmon by squeezing lemon juice on the fillet and seasoning with salt and pepper.
After the lentils have been simmering for ~30 minutes, remove pot from heat and add salt. Let the lentils sit in the salty water for 10 minutes so they absorb the seasoned water. Then, remove the fennel, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Before draining the lentils from the water, reserve one cup of the cooking water.
At this point, place salmon in the oven for about 15 minutes. If not done to your liking after the 15 minutes, I like to broil for a minute or two.
To prepare stewed lentils, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned. Add onions and saute until they become soft, not browned (another 5 minutes). Add fennel, carrot, and celery and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Then, add the cooked lentils and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water and cook until the liquid has reduced.
To serve lay the salmon on top of a bed of lentils and top with the herbed butter.
How I eat it: with a nice big glass of pinot noir
Although the recipe may seem long and involved, it really was an easy meal to make. Because baking salmon is not so involved you are able to concentrate on the lentils. The flavors work so well together and I love that it really spiced up lentils which I always assumed to be a boring, tasteless side dish.
My mom and I are planning to make this dish again next week as a welcome home dinner for my grandparents who have been in Florida for the past month. I’ll let you know if it’s just as good as the last time!