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Recipes / Warm Lentil-and-Spinach Salad with Pan-Roasted Salmon

Warm Lentil-and-Spinach Salad with Pan-Roasted Salmon

By Kerri Conan

Published March 25, 2024

French lentils are the mottled green du Puy or “petite” varieties that look like teeny, glistening river pebbles. They’ve got a pleasant, herbaceous taste and keep their shape when tender, which makes them perfect for salad.

Photo: Kerri Conan
Photo: Kerri Conan
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The warm dressing here is bright with the classic combination of coarse mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, and tarragon. But only the usual shallot is cooked along with the lentils so the flavor is tamed and comes at your mouth from two places in the same bite. You don’t need much salmon here, but Mark’s cooking method from Fish: The Complete Guide to Buying and Cooking is absolutely a must. Get the beans going first, then get everything else ready. The greens are flexible: Use as little or as much spinach as you like or substitute arugula, watercress, or baby lettuce. Serve with baguette and a crisp Viognier or Chenin Blanc or iced lemon verbena tea.

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Warm Lentil-and-Spinach Salad with Pan-Roasted Salmon

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Makes 4 servings 1x

Time 45 minutes

Units Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Bob’s Red Mill dried green lentils
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, trimmed, peeled, and left whole
  • Salt, preferably kosher or other coarse salt
  • About 1 pound salmon fillet, preferably skin on
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons whole grain mustard, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 10 to 16 ounces spinach leaves, trimmed and rinsed well
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse and pick over the lentils in a strainer under running water. Put them in a large pot with the shallot, 4 cups water, and a generous pinch of salt. (You’re going to need the space later so resist the urge to use a saucepan.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the liquid bubbles steadily. Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes before checking for doneness. You want them to be tender without getting mushy and breaking apart. Keep checking every couple minutes until they’re ready.
  2. Take the salmon out of the refrigerator and divide the fillet (or fillets) crosswise into portions if you’d like. (Sharp kitchen scissors make this tidy work.) Remove pin bones now with pointed pliers if you’d like or alert everyone at the table to do it as they eat. Grab a large non-stick skillet and have it handy.
  3. Drain lentils and cool quickly under cold tap water. (No need to rinse out the pot.) Fish out the shallot, chop it, and add it to the pot with the olive oil and turn the heat to medium. When the shallot starts sizzling (it won’t color much), adjust the heat to medium-low and squeeze in 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Add the coarse mustard, black pepper, and tarragon. Taste for salt and add more lemon juice if you’d like. Stir to combine; the dressing won’t emulsify but that’s okay. Spoon 4 tablespoons into a small bowl and reserve.
  4. Return the lentils to the pot and toss to coat with the dressing in the pot. Add the spinach leaves and stir until they just start to darken and soften. Cover, remove from heat, and let the salad sit while you cook the salmon.
  5. Put the dry skillet over high heat until it’s scorching hot. Sprinkle the bottom  with salt, then add the salmon, skin side down. Cook, lowering the heat a tad if you smell burning, until the skin is well browned and the fillets release easily from the pan, about 5 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook 1 additional minute (more if you like your salmon well done). Taste the lentils and adjust the seasoning, adding more olive oil, lemon, or mustard as needed. Drizzle the salmon with the reserved dressing and serve.

—Recipe developed by The Bittman Project for Bob’s Red Mill