Recipe: Salmon and Lentils (w/bonus leftover lentils)

 

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Ingredients:

  • About two cups of dried lentils (preferably French green ones)
  • One big carrot, diced
  • One small onion, diced
  • One medium-ish potato, peeled and diced
  • Two or so cloves of garlic
  • At least a tablespoon Herbes de Provence seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Two to four portions of salmon filet cooked how you prefer, about six to eight ounces per person (This amount of lentils would work well for four servings, or with enough leftover lentils to repurpose for a side dish, soup, etc.)
  • Lemon wedges, plus parsley to garnish

I’m not likely to ever open a restaurant, but if I did, it’d probably be some kind of riff on a “French bistro,” and if I did open Cafe La Steve, I’d probably have this dish on the menu. I can’t say I remember ever seeing this on a menu in a restaurant– French or otherwise– but it does feel like a good French bistro recipe to me.

This is a pretty basic approach, one based on the recipe in Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, which is kind of my “go to” cook book for finding basic recipes for, well, everything. You could definitely jazz up the lentils with some bacon or maybe chicken stock or some more fresh herbs or what have you. I keep it simple both because it then is a weeknight (when you have a little extra time) kind of meal, and also because it’s easier to repurpose the leftover lentils into different forms.

Steps:

  • Put the lentils into a Dutch oven or other large heavy pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and cook them for 15-20 minutes, just until they are starting to soften. If you’re pretty quick about dicing up the vegetables, you can do that while the lentils cook. If you are slower (like me) about dicing vegetables and/or you’re trying to do more than one thing at a time in the kitchen (also like me), it’s probably a little less stressful and easier to dice the vegetables before you cook the lentils. Use your judgement on that.
  • After the lentils have cooked a while, set up a fine mesh strainer in the sink and carefully drain your hot lentils into this strainer. Rinse off the lentils and rinse out the pot. I should point out that this step is (probably) unnecessary and I’ve never seen it described in a cook book, but I do it this way because it makes the final version seem less “muddy” to me. I don’t know if that makes sense or not; so try this step if you want, or just skip it.
  • If you don’t drain the lentils, then just add the vegetables into the pot, and make sure there is enough water to cover. If you do drain the lentils, add a little olive oil to the bottom of the now drained and rinsed out pot and sauté the vegetables with a little salt and pepper for a few minutes, just to get them beginning to soften, stirring pretty much the whole time. If they are sticking a bit to the bottom, add a little water and stir to unstick them from the pot. Put the drained lentils back into the pot and add enough water to cover.
  • Stir in a heaping tablespoon of Herbes de Provence. I just use a mix I always have on hand– it’s a very handy seasoning– but if you don’t have that, you can just add some thyme, maybe a little rosemary, that sort of thing. There’s a lot of lentils there, so you can be aggressive with the amount of herbs you put in.
  • Cook the lentils and vegetables on medium heat, allowing them to just barely simmer and reduce to a thick consistency but without letting them dry out completely. Check on them and stir the pot about every five minutes or so. This takes around 20 minutes.
  • While that’s going on, this is a good time to slice a lemon into wedges (and get rid of the seeds) and chop up a bit of parsley.
  • When the lentils are almost done, taste them and add more salt and pepper as you see fit. I usually turn the pot down very low and then prepare the salmon. You could also easily do this ahead of time (up to several days ahead if you put the lentils in the fridge) and simply reheat the lentils and vegetables when ready to eat.
  • As far as the salmon goes: you can kind of cook that however you want. You could take your salmon filets– a bit of salt and pepper on top, with the skin still on– and put them skin-side down in a hot non-stick pan with just a bit of oil, allowing the skin to crisp up and the fat to render, and then flip them over to brown a bit and to finish cooking to your liking. I don’t do this because Annette doesn’t like the crispy fish skin and also because this kind of makes a splattering mess on the stove. So instead, I usually turn on the broiler and set up the oven rack so it’s not too close to the heat. Then  I put the seasoned salmon on a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil (it just makes it a lot easier to clean), and then put the salmon under the broiler for just a few minutes, until the skin is crispy. Then I take them out, peel off the skin and discard it, flip over the salmon, maybe add a little olive oil to the top of the filet, and put it back in until the top of the salmon is just beginning to brown. This whole process takes maybe 10 minutes.
  • Plate by ladling a nice pile of lentils and vegetables in a nice shallow bowl, place a piece of salmon on top of those lentils, garnish with lemon wedges and parsley, and eat.

Bonus leftover lentils!

Inevitably, this recipe provides me with leftover lentils, which is actually a very good thing. I’m not much of a leftovers kind of person, but I think these leftover lentils are quite good. I’ll sometimes just heat them up in the microwave as a kind of “side dish” to a sandwich or something like that. Usually though, I’ll make them into soup simply by adding however many lentils I want with broth, either vegetable or chicken, and if I want to get really “fancy,” I’ll cook up a slice of bacon, cut that up, and add the crispy pieces to the soup.

Martha Stewart’s Apple Raspberry Crumble ala Steve

I’m in a bit of a recipe mood today– I dunno, maybe it’s the holidays. Annette and I were over at Jim and Rachel’s house last night, and I brought a batch of apple raspberry crumble. Rachel the baker/dessert queen asked for the recipe, and I figured since I emailed it to her, I might as well post it here, too.

This is a very easy to put together dessert that comes from one of Martha Stewart’s first cook books, called Martha Stewart’s Quick Cook. Actually, for all I know, it may have been her first book. I’m looking at it now, and I can see that it was published in 1983, and on the first page, she thanks her husband who tried all these recipes. Ah, Martha… what happened, Martha, what happened?

Anyway, back to the recipe:

This stuff is bullet-proof. You can put it together in 15 minutes (the most labor-intensive part of the whole deal is peeling the apples), you can make it well in advance and just let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to cook it, you can eat it hot, warm, or cold. I say here to cook it for about a half-hour, but I know I’ve left it in the oven for an hour and it was fine. Grown-ups like it, kids like it, you can try using different berries (fresh or frozen), add some nuts to the crumble top, take out the oatmeal, whatever you want.

Anyway, here’s my version of this:

3 big or 4 medium-sized granny smith apples
1 10 or 12 oz bag of frozen raspberries, slightly defrosted
1 cup plus a few tablespoons of flour
2 tsp (or to taste) of cinnamon
1/2 tsp (or to taste) of nutmeg (fresh, of course)
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold

1. Core, peel, and cut up the apples. Cut each apple into about 10 or 12 slices, depending on the size of the apples. Put the apples into the bottom of a buttered baking dish– something 8 x 8 or so.

2. Sprinkle the apples with two or three tablespoons of flour and about a teaspoon of cinnamon.

3. Drain and discard whatever liquid is in the slightly defrosted frozen raspberries and dump the berries onto the apples. It’s no big deal if the raspberries are still frozen, but it will take longer to cook.

4. In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, oatmeal, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pinch of salt. Cut up the butter into itty-bitty pieces, put it in to the bowl with the other ingredients, and use your fingers (washed, of course) to cut the butter into dry ingredients until, well, crumbly. Spread this mixture out evenly over the raspberries.

5. Bake it at 350 or 375 until it’s just barely golden brown and a bit bubbly– about 30 minutes, depending on how frozen the raspberries were. Eat it with whipped cream or ice cream.