Sunday, April 8, 2012

French Lentils: Roasted Salmon with Lentils

Lentils du Puy (French Green Lentils)
During my hiatus, I have been making lentils because I discovered that Wegman's carries the French green lentils.  Also called lentils du Puy.

I love these little dark green lentils, compared to the common brown lentils.  The French ones stay firm and are earthy, while the brown one seem mushy to me. 

I used to stock up on them when I went to NYC but didn't realize they were in the International aisle at Wegman's, until recently.

Lentils only take 30 - 40 minutes to cook, and are very good for you.  The only tricky part to making them is to be sure to wash them well and to pick out any debris.
What can you do with French lentils?

Well, the first thing I made, and have made several times since, is Dorrie Greenspan's Roasted Salmon and Lentils recipe from her latest cookbook, Around My French Table.

We invited a neighbor over for late dinner on a Friday night, and served this dish with asparagus and a green salad.  It was very easy to make.  Unfortunately, I over salted the lentils, but otherwise, it was excellent dish!

And it's easy to roast salmon inside (versus on the grill).

Roasted Salmon and Lentils
(from Dorrie Greenspan's Around My French Table, pg. 300-301)

1 cup lentils du Puy (French green lentils)
1 clove
1 small onion
1 medium carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 4 -6 pieces
1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into 4 - 6 pieces
1 bay leaf
3.5 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
1 1 1/4 pound piece salmon fillet, cut from the thick center portion, skin on, at room temperature
Olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
For garnish, chopped fresh parsley and/or snipped chives (optional)
Put the lentils in a strainer, pick through them to remove any debris; rinse under cold running water.

Turn the lentils into a medium saucepan, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes; drain the lentils in the strainer.  Rinse the lentils again and rinse out the saucepan.
Press the clove into the onion and toss the onion, carrot, celery, and bay leaf into the pan.  Pour in the broth, stir in the lentils, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a steady simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are almost tender. 

As the lentils cook, skim off the dark foam that rises to the top.  Season with salt and cook until they're tender, 5 to 10 minutes more.

While the lentils are cooking, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.
Place a strainer over a large measuring cup and drain the lentils, reserving the broth, set the pan aside.  Pick out the vegetables, and discard the clove and bay leaf; if you'd like to serve the carrots, celery, and onion with the lentils (Dorrie does), cut them into very small dice.  Rinse out the saucepan.

Put the salmon on the foil-lined baking sheet, rub a little olive oil over the top, season with salt and pepper.  Slide the baking sheet into the oven and roast the salmon for about 12 minutes, or until it is firm on the outside and still pink, and just the tiniest bit jiggly in the center (nick the thickest part with a slender knife to test).  If the salmon is done before you've finished the lentils, cover it lightly with a foil tent, and leave it on the counter to rest.

Meanwhile, put 3/4 cup of the cooked lentils into a food processor (a mini processor is fine) or blender and add 1/2 cup of the reserved broth.  Whir for a minute or so, until the lentils are reduced to a puree, then scrape the puree and the remaining cooked lentils back into the saucepan.  Pour in another 1 /2 cup of reserved broth, add the diced vegetables, if you kept them, and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Note:  You can make the lentils to this point and keep them, covered, at room temperature for a few hours, or in the refrigerator overnight.

Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring, only until the lentils are warmed through again.

Divide the lentils among 4 warm shallow soup plates.  Slice the salmon into 4 portions, and place a piece in the center of each plate.  Drizzle the salmon and lentils very lightly with olive oil, dust the top of the fish with parsley and/or chives, if you'd like, and serve immediately.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator and gently reheated.


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