Friday, February 25, 2011

Salmon with Spiced Lentils

I am a big fan of  Williams-Sonoma, especially their cookbooks and have a number of them.  Several years ago, a friend gave me the W-S "Seasonal Favorites (the best of Autumn and Winter)" for my birthday.  It's a small book packed with top notch recipes and we've enjoyed every one that I've made.

The Crispy Salmon with Spiced Lentils is always a hit.  It's delicious and, when there's just the two of us, provides some extra salmon for a salad or pasta the next day.  The spicy lentils give us another meal or two on their own.  So, whether there will be six or two at your table, I'm sure you're going to like this recipe.

I've changed the recipe a bit.  We live in an area where fresh tomatoes are only available in the summer so I've substituted canned tomatoes for fresh  This means cooking the sauce a little longer.  I've also used chicken stock instead of clam juice.  The original recipe calls for lentils.  We like the French green lentils.  Other changes are noted in the recipe.  I follow the recipe (sans cilantro) in the summer.  Either way, it is always greeted enthusiastically by diners.

Crispy Salmon with Spiced Lentils inspired by Williams-Sonoma's "Seasonal Favorites" 

1 1/2 cups lentils (I used green French lentils)
8 whole cloves
1 small yellow onion
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (I used a 14-ounce can of diced  tomatoes, undrained)
1 1/2 cups clam juice (I used chicken stock)
1 1/2 tsp each ground cumin and ground ginger
3/4 tsp each ground turmeric and sweet paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I used a bit less)
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (I left out because Andrew doesn't like it)
Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

6 salmon filetts, about 5 oz and 3/4 to one inch thick.  
(Since there were only two of us, I did three and used the extra one for a salad the next day.)

1.  Pick over lentils, rinse and place in a large saucepan.  Add water to cover by two inches.  Stick cloves into the yellow onion and add along with the bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until tender, 15-20 minutes.  Drain and discard the onion and bay leaves.  Set aside.
2.  In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm one tbsp of the oil.  Add the red onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, tomatoes, clam juice (or chicken stock), and all the spices.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are soft, about 3 minutes.  NOTE:  Because I used the canned tomatoes and their juices, I cooked this down a bit until reduced by about a third.  Add the parsley, cilantro (if using), and lentils and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until most of the tomato juice is reduced and absorbed.  Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Keep warm.
3.  Preheat a ridged pan or a cast iron skillet (I don't have a ridged pan) over high heat until "screaming" hot--about ten minutes.  Brush the salmon with the remaining oil and place on the pan.  Cook until golden and crisp on one side, 4-5 minutes.  Turn over and sprinkle with salt and pepper and continue to cook until opaque throughout, 3-4 minutes longer.  
4.  Heap some of the lentils onto a plate, top with the salmon and serve immediately.