I have mentioned before that I want to like lentils. They seem simultaneously earthy and elegant to me. I imagine a peasant sitting at a worn old wooden table, pulled close to a fire for warmth, scooping lentils into his mouth, while sopping up the broth with a big old chunk of country bread. I also imagine a very sophisticated and chic Parisian with her delicate plate of lentils and a glass of wine at an outdoor café. This salmon over warm lentils with crispy pancetta from Sara Foster Fresh Every Day: More Great Recipes from Foster's Market definitely falls in the later category. This is such a subtle and sophisticated dish.
Let me begin by saying that the original title of this recipe is “Braised Salmon Fillets with Tarragon and White Wine over Warm Lentils with Crispy Pancetta. Unfortunately the braising called for apple cider and the juice of a tangerine or orange, which I didn’t have. Plus you were supposed to marinate the salmon for one hour to overnight and then you cooked the salmon and finally reduced the sauce.
So, instead, I decided to keep the tarragon flavor and make a compound butter. To one stick of softened room temperature butter, I added about 2 tablespoons of chopped tarragon that I had stored away in my freezer at the end of summer last year. I would use a pat of this on a simple broiled salmon. Perfect.
This whole dish was amazing. So good. It was earthy and elegant, everything I wanted my lentils to be!
Below is the recipe for the lentils. At the very end of cooking the lentils, I sprayed a little olive oil on my salmon filets and salt and peppered them. I placed them under a broiler on a file lined baking sheet, for about 6 minutes (I start checking at 4). When they were finished cooking, I topped them with a pat of the compound butter which melted delightfully over the salmon adding a buttery tarragon goodness. Make this.
Warm Lentils with Crispy Pancetta
- 3 1/4 inch slices pancetta or 3 strips bacon chopped
- 2 shallots minced
- 1 cup French green lentils or brown lentils
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cook the chopped pancetta in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the skillet.
Add the minced shallots to the skillet and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the lentils, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3 cups of water and bring just to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for about 35 minutes, until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the pancetta and season with salt and pepper and toss gently to combine. Serve warm.
Serves 4 to 6
This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!