So after eating so much gingerbread cake I felt the need to have something healthy in my life this December. I.e. a plate of fish and lentils. How much healthier can it get?
If you say a plate of kale with chia seeds you are henceforth banned from The Gourmet Gourmand… (just kidding I love all people who are viewing my recipes and support all varieties of diets!!!)
OK so all trendy health food jokes aside, I do actually value eating healthy. I just have an extreme aversion to deprivation, so I often find myself at a confusing crossroads of “but I should eat the salad” and “but I want all. the. cheese!” Fortunately I do have some dishes in my repertoire that are delicious and also healthy.Hence Salmon with Dill Sauce and Beluga lentils. But “don’t just take my word for it..” look at the preeeeetty pictures!!!
(Points if you also watched Reading Rainbow as a child; #ILoveLevar)Ok let’s get past the stream of consciousness part of this post and let’s actually talk food. Fish is one of my all time favorite things to cook when a) I’m feeling like being healthy and b) if I’m feeling exceptionally lazy. And I often like to top my salmon with some sort of tangy fruit sauce or fresh vegetable slaw. But creamy dill sauce is one of those classic salmon pairings that needed a feature here.
The creamy dill sauce is actually super quick to make- it just involves a little minced shallot, a little dijon mustard, a generous helping of creme fraiche, and, of course, fresh dill! It’s actually really really simple and the combo of flavors makes a light and tangy cream sauce that would go very well on a variety of fish including salmon.Now the lentils need a little more back story in my opinion. They’re actually a side dish based on a meal that I had at Deschutes in Portland. (Yes I have a freakish ability for remembering specific foods/ recipes I’ve eaten). They were these perrrfectly seasoned beluga lentils with wilted spinach. I had never before eaten or even heard of beluga lentils, so of course I harassed the waiter for a little more information.
Apparently beluga lentils are a nickname for black lentils, and are named this because they look a heck of a lot like beluga caviar. They are delicious and creamy legumes that tend to keep their shape when cooked vs. breaking down like red lentils, for example. Obviously they taste like lentils and not like fancy salted fish eggs. But they make an impressive presentation, and, with the caviar appearance, look beautiful with a seafood entree dish; and honestly I actually prefer the flavor of these lentils to a more classic french lentil.
More and more stores are stocking a variety of lentils these days, but I did get mine at Whole Foods in the bulk food section.The lentils are simply braised in chicken stock with garlic and shallots. And then a little fresh arugula is wilted into the warm lentils. And they make the perfect side for a beautiful fish entree.
But don’t just take my word for it….
Salmon with Dill Sauce and Beluga Lentils
_For the Salmon_
- 2 6 oz salmon filets
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shallot minced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 6 tablespoons crème fraiche
- 3 teaspoons fresh dill minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
_For the Lentils_
- 1 cup beluga black lentils
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ¾ cup low sodium chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 shallot quartered
- 3 peeled whole garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 heaping handful of fresh baby arugula.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile bring salmon to room temperature. Season fish with salt and pepper.
- In a oven-safe non-stick pan (I used a cast iron skillet), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Place salmon, skin side up, in hot oil. Sear for about 2 minutes, then flip and sear for an additional 2 minutes.
- Immediately transfer fish to preheated oven and continue cooking, about 5-7 minutes or until fish is done to your liking. (5 minutes should be about medium, and 7 minutes for well-done).
- Meanwhile, prepare your sauce.
- Melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a few minutes, or until just softened. Turn heat down as needed to prevent butter from burning.
- Turn heat to low. Whisk in the mustard. Then add crème fraiche and whisk until smooth.
- Add dill and lemon juice. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately with sauce spooned over salmon, accompanied by beluga lentils.
For the lentils
- In a medium saucepan add butter and olive oil and melt over medium heat. Add lentils and stir until lentils are well-coated.
- Add chicken stock, salt, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring mixture to a simmer and then cover, and turn heat down to low.
- Cook for about 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking and to check for done-ness.
- When lentils are fully cooked, drain any excess liquid, and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and mix well.
- Optional- remove garlic and shallots and discard. (I usually remove the garlic, but keep the shallots).
- Add fresh arugula and stir; the residual heat from the lentils will cause it to wilt.