Salmon with Green Lentils

Some nights I have a plan; a plan to make three or four dishes and while it seems crazy (even to me) I feel the need to do it. It’s a challenge I can’t resist. I come home and delve into my kitchen, perhaps to find a bit of escape. Even while cooking one of four dishes I’m thinking to myself  “can I get this all done? I can do it all…just have to do this one while that simmers and then I will need to check on a few things so yes, I can get it all done.” Seriously, that is what is going on in my head while reading a recipe simultaneous with making additions/deletions. I admit it’s chaos. I think I like it.

That was last night. I had returned home from the grocery (after returning from a class after returning from getting the tire fixed after picking up my glasses after work *Yikes*) and had bags of ingredients just waiting for me to touch. I had defrosted some salmon fillets and bought the remaining ingredients necessary to make a hot lentil side dish of deliciousness – it had to be made THAT NIGHT. The option of throwing in the kitchen towel was non-existent. I had to press on. On top of it, the other ingredients I purchased were staring at me, pleading with me to make them now! I have a new recipe book and when you have a new recipe book, you have a thirst that can’t be quenched until you make a recipe…then another…then another until all of a sudden you’ve got a newer recipe book. On my list along with Salmon with Green Lentils I wanted to make coconut-date balls (from “The Kind Diet” and they are really called Raw Balls), cauliflower and brussel sprouts braised in the oven, and blondies with white chocolate chunks. Whew. Maybe I take on all these tasks because I’m forced to think about only cooking instead of everything else; I’m in the moment…like yoga.

I started with the Green Lentils- they had been soaked and went into a pot to boil and simmer. While they were working, I cut up the rest of the vegetables for the lentil stew. After the lentils finished they drained and I started on softening the onions, added the veggies, and pre-heated the oven. (picture  cook whirling around the kitchen looking crazed) I took out the cauliflower and brussel sprouts, trimmed and added them to a small baking dish with some water, salt and pepper; into the oven they went. I stirred veggies and added lentils, broth, etc., put a top on pot and let the mixture simmer for 20 (more like 30) minutes. Then I went to work on the blondies. They were actually super easy to mix up and pour in a pan. Into the oven they went and it was time for the salmon. Got the fillet over heat, stirred the lentil mix, put the salmon in the oven to finish cooking. I made the coconut-date balls; a snap because it all mixes in the food processor. The only issue with doing all these projects was the amount of dirty dishes left in a heap around me. Finally, the dinner was done, the blondies set, cauliflower and brussel sprouts soft and yummy, and the coconut-date balls chillin’ in the freezer. Just reading this makes me tired but last night I was like a three (four?) ring circus and loving every minute of it.

Salmon with Green Lentils is an awesome dinner and entertaining worthy. It is healthy, colorful, delicious, and satisfying. I love searing salmon first in a saute-pan then finishing it in the oven. This method gives it an incredible golden crust while keeping it moist. Set atop a bed of the lentil mixture, you get salmon and lentils in every bite and the combination of flavors is perfect. I served dinner with the cauliflower and brussel sprouts (and a small salad), but roasted sweet potatoes would be great as well.

Salmon with Green Lentils  Adapted from Barefoot Contessa


  • 1 cup dried green lentils
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion 
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (See How To’s for directions on how to prepare leeks)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 parsnip, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped 
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 (8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin removed

How To:

Place the lentils in a bowl and add 4 cups water. Let soak for one hour. If box directions say otherwise, follow. Place into medium pot and bring to a boil, reducing to a simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender. While lentils are cooking chop vegetables, keeping each separate. Drain lentils and set aside.

Heat three tablespoons oil in a sauté pan, add the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and stir mixture. After a minute or two, add the drained lentils, celery, parsnip, carrots, vegetable or chicken stock, water, and tomato paste. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the vinegar and season to taste.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the salmon, heat a dry oven-proof sauté pan (usually any stainless steel pan) over high heat for 4 minutes. Rub both sides of the salmon fillets with one tablespoon olive oil and season the tops with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, place the salmon fillets seasoning-sides down in the pan and cook over medium heat without moving them for 2 minutes, until very browned. Turn the fillets and place the pan in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salmon is cooked rare. Spoon a mound of lentils on each plate and place a salmon fillet on top. Serve hot.

Serves 2, with lots of lentils leftover! You can always double the salmon if you are entertaining for 4.


5 thoughts on “Salmon with Green Lentils

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