Makes 4 servings
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total preparation time: 30 minutes
My favorite way to cook salmon when I am in a rush is simply to drizzle it with a little olive oil and lemon and then to roast it in the oven. As long as you don’t overcook it, the salmon will invariably turn out so well it doesn’t even need a sauce.
I love the tiny green French lentils, lentilles du Puy, with salmon and this light mustard dressing. They are available at specialty food shops (see Ingredients below) but if you can’t find them, you’re also welcome to use plain old green lentils for this dish, although they might take a little longer to cook.
The pancetta, or bacon rounds out this recipe nicely, but if you don’t eat pork, just leave it out or add some julienned smoked salmon to the lentils with the vinegar and mustard.
1 cup green lentils, preferably lentilles du Puy (small French lentils)
2 ounces pancetta (see Ingredients below) or bacon, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Four 6-ounce pieces center-cut salmon fillet, skin removed
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly milled black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 to 4 tablespoons chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, parsley, tarragon, or basil
Place the lentils in a large saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet and add the onion and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the salmon in one flat layer in a shallow roasting pan. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the lemon juice; season with desired amount of salt and pepper. Bake until barely cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Drain the lentils well and return to the saucepan. Add the vinegar and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the pancetta, the cooked onion mixture, the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of the chicken stock. Stir well and add more stock if necessary to make a moist lentil mixture. Stir in the herbs at the last minute. Serve each portion of salmon with some of the lentil salad.