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Salmon with Green Lentil Ragout

Tiny, dark green Le Puy lentils are wonderful with salmon. A full-flavored chicken stock takes the place of wine as the base that ties together the ingredients in this refined, yet easy to make, dish. The lentils can be made ahead and reheated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Le Puy or other small green lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped shallot 
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped 
  • 1 boiling potato, peeled and cut into scant 1/2-inch cubes 
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste 
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 1 tsp. canola oil 
  • 1 salmon fillet, 1 to 1 1/4 lb., skin removed and fish cut into 4 equal pieces  

Directions:

Pick over the lentils, discarding any misshapen lentils or grit. Rinse the lentils, place them in a saucepan and add the 3 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the lentils are tender but not soft, 45 to 50 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a saucepan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil. Continue to boil until it is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, if you are using homemade stock, or 1 1/3 cups, if you are using purchased broth. Remove from the heat.

In a nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1/2 cup of the concentrated stock until it bubbles, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the shallot, carrot and potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost evaporated, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the remaining stock and add the cooked lentils. Simmer over medium heat until the potato is tender, but not soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Remove from the heat; keep hot.

Meanwhile, in another fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil. Season the salmon pieces on both sides with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Place them in the pan and cook until crisp and well browned on the bottom, about 8 minutes. Using a wide spatula, turn the fish over and cook until slightly translucent in the very center at the thickest part, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let rest for a few minutes. (The hot fish will continue to cook until it is opaque.)

Divide the lentil mixture, with some of the liquid, among warmed wide, shallow bowls or dinner plates with a deep center. Place a piece of the salmon on top of each mound of lentils. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).