Salmon with French Green Lentils and Herb Butter

Tuesday I finally went to the store for a real shopping trip.  I had been here a week, and had managed quite easily to make meals out of what was already on hand.  Mom wanted to make Sole Meuniere, but the fish store, where I probably would have found sole, was in the opposite direction of Whole Foods, and I was feeling a little lazy.  So, Whole Foods won out – Creg will be happy about that! They did have some nice looking wild salmon, so with fish on my mind, I bought it. This is a dish that I’ve made often, and did once in my cooking class.  It is very easy, but also very elegant, and I’ve done it for dinner parties before.  You can start early and prepare the lentils ahead, and just keep them warm, or re-heat when it’s time to serve.  You can also make the herb butter ahead and keep it in the fridge for a day or two, or freeze for even longer.  I like to add some swiss chard to the lentils, not only for a yummy contrast, but to sneak in greens for people who don’t normally eat a lot of them (like my father).  This is for 3 people, but can be easily adjusted for more.  The amount of lentils will really feed 4 – I had leftovers for lunch the next day!

salmon with lentils

Salmon with French Green Lentils and Herb Butter

1 cup French green lentils
4 cups water
1 leek, rinsed well and chopped (white and pale green part only)
1 onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 bunch swiss chard (any color)
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 5-ounce skinless salmon filets
Herb butter (5 tbsp room temperature butter mixed with 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme)
  • Put lentils, water and 1 tsp salt in a large pot and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 30-35 minutes, till lentils are tender. Remove from heat, let stand for 5 minutes, then drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  • Meanwhile, sauté leeks, onions and celery in about 2 tbsp butter with a bit of salt till soft, but not browned, 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove ribs from Swiss chard, wash, chop, and add to leeks. Cook till chard is wilted down and softened, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add lentils to leeks and chard. Stir in 2 tbsp herb butter, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and some of the reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency (not too runny, but not dry). Heat through, then remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
  • Pat salmon dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp butter with a bit of olive oil (so the butter doesn’t burn) in a large non-stick skillet over medium high.  Having a very hot pan will ensure you get a nice sear on the fish. Sauté salmon until golden and medium rare, about 4 minutes on first side, 3 on second side.
  • Serve salmon over lentils and top each piece with a little herb butter.

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