Ecosalon Recipes: Seared Salmon over Warm Lentil Salad


As we mentioned earlier this week, Seafood Watch has given the green light to the very first farmed salmon – as long as it’s Coho that was farmed in a closed system in the US. To celebrate, here’s a rustic, simple, and healthy recipe using salmon. Think French bistro and serve with a red Rhone.

The walnut oil in the dressing is a nice (and expensive) Frenchy touch. If you don’t want to spring for it, simply replace it with an equal amount of olive oil.

You can also use MSC Certified wild salmon in this recipe if you have access to it and it’s in your budget. Though populations are down, I feel okay about eating a small portion as a once-in-a-while treat. That’s why this is a great recipe – the lentils are substantial enough that a small portion of fish is very satisfying.

Another option is Arctic Char, an aquaculture relative of salmon that also gets the green light from Seafood Watch. It’s a rich, delicious substitute that behaves a lot like salmon in the kitchen.

Seared Salmon over Warm Lentil Salad

Serves 4

3/4 cup French green lentils
1/2 of a small yellow onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4-4-oz  salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Frisée lettuce for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place lentils in a medium saucepan with 2 1/2 cups water, onion, celery, garlic and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until lentils are tender.

Meanwhile, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and shallot with a little salt and pepper. Slowly drizzle in the oils, whisking continually, until the dressing comes together. Set aside.

During the final 10 minutes of the lentil cooking time, season the fish with salt and pepper and heat a heavy ovenproof skillet or cast iron pan over medium high heat. Do not use a nonstick skillet. Sear the salmon for about 3-4 minutes per side until brown on the bottom and cooked about halfway up the sides. Carefully flip with a spatula and transfer to the oven for 5-10 minutes to finish. Check the fish after a few minutes. When done, it should be opaque, but moist all the way through and darker red in the very center.

When the lentils are tender, drain them well and toss while still warm with a generous amount of the dressing. Mix in fresh parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss in some frisée and mound the lentils on plates. Serve the salmon atop the lentils. Leftover dressing will keep for 1-2 weeks refrigerated.

Recipe copyright Vanessa Barrington 2010. Please use organic, local ingredients whenever possible.

Photo © Robin Locker – My Melange

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.