Pan Seared Salmon with Dijon Crème Fraiche and Lentil Frisée Salad

Yield: 4 servings

Lentils:

1 cup beluga lentils, rinsed well and drained

3 cups vegetable stock

1 dried bay leaf

5 sprigs fresh thyme

Mix the lentils with the stock, bay leaf, and thyme in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring the saucepan to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through but not mushy. Drain. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoon red wine or sherry vinegar

⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinaigrette ingredients, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Salad:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced small (⅔ cup)

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated (1 cup)

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon) 

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh mint

1 small head frisée, rinsed and dried, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces (2 cups)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Add the olive oil, onions and carrots to a medium sate pan over medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

In a large bowl, combine the contents of the sauté pan along with the lentils.

Grab the vinaigrette and give one more good shake or whisk, then pour it over the warm salad and gently mix with a large spoon.

Fold in the parsley, mint and frisée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Salmon:

1 pound salmon fillet, 1½ inches thick, skin on, cut into 4 equal pieces

1 tablespoon lemon zest (zest of 3 lemons), grated on a Microplane

2 teaspoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pat the salmon dry, then pat the non-skin side with the lemon zest and chopped thyme, season lightly with salt and pepper, and allow the salmon to sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat until hot; add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter to the sauté pan. The butter will bubble up, turn brown and perhaps even smoke. Swirl the sauté pan to distribute, then add the salmon, skin side up.

Cook for 1 minute, flip to skin side down and continue cooking for 30 seconds.

Cover the sauté pan and immediately push the sauté pan off the heat. Turn off the heat and allow the salmon to rest undisturbed for 15 minutes.

Dijon Crème Fraîche:

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

¼ cup crème fraîche

Place the mustard and crème fraîche in a small bowl and stir until combined.

Serve salmon topped with a dollop of Dijon crème fraîche and on a bed of the lentil frisee salad.

Note: I recommend preparing this recipe in the following way in order to maximize your time. Cook lentils first. While lentils are cooking, make the vinaigrette, followed by the Dijon crème fraiche. Start the salmon and then work on the salad. And, as always, mise out/prep your ingredients first!

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