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I love exploring the peanut butter-and-jelly pairings of other cultures. In France I always see pâté with cornichons, tomatoes with tarragon, and, perhaps my favorite, salmon with lentils. As someone recently married to a man who is in many ways my 180-degree opposite, I often wonder how two very different things can work so well together. And then, for the tried-and-true couplings, what can we do to make them feel new again? From what I gather, that's the secret to a world-class marriage.
With salmon and lentils, what I love about them is how decadent the buttery fish seems next to the earthy lentils. For a new touch, I added elements that bring out the best in both: mustard, caramelized shallots, and herbs—in this case, your choice of either thyme or rosemary. This is a one-skillet dinner that I could make over and over again, weeknight after weeknight.
I start by caramelizing some sliced shallots, then setting them aside. In the same pan, I sear the salmon until it's crispy on the outside and juicy in the center, using this method, which has you cook the salmon nearly through to completion on its first side to get the skin (or meat) extra-crispy, before flipping it to finish it off. It picks up a wonderful flavor from the shallots that were previously in the pan. With the salmon resting off to the side, I add the shallots back to the pan, along with a can of cooked Puy lentils, broth, the herbs, and whole-grain mustard. I let it all quickly simmer until the broth has reduced a bit. A little lemon juice and parsley at the very end brighten up the lentils, and the salmon gets served directly on top.
Is it re-inventing the wheel? No. But why break up the perfect couple? It is another delicious way for salmon and lentils to be together forever. On my plate.