Spring has finally arrived, and with that my daydreams turn to springtime in Paris. Since a quick trip to Paris is unlikely, I'll take the next best thing, the UR/VCU French Film Festival , running this week at the Byrd Theatre . To get in the mood, I'm whipping up a classic French combination, lentils and salmon, or as I like to call it, Ooh-La-La Lentils avec Saumon .
Secrets de la Réussite
(Secrets for Success)
- Chicken broth : Use a brand that has some flavor to it. (Some brands can be weak on flavor.) You'll know what I mean if you taste a couple of different brands side by side. Kirkland, Costco 's store brand, works well here. Orrington Farms , available in grocery stores, makes a chicken base that you can use to make broth whatever strength you desire.
- Lentils : Regular green lentils are just fine. You can also use the smaller French du Puy lentils. The cooking time for French lentils may differ, so watch the pot.
- Refrain from salting or seasoning the lentils until after they are cooked. Prepared chicken broth or chicken base usually contains salt, so you don't want to double-dose.
- Salmon : if you purchase one large filet (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 pounds) be sure to portion it before roasting. If you roast is it whole, it's much more difficult to portion the fish evenly due to flaking.
- My mother loved parsley and so do I. With this dish, I tend to be more generous with the amount added to the lentils, especially if the parsley is from my own herb patch.
Ooh-la-la Lentils avec Saumon (Lentils and Salmon) Serves 4 Lentils 1 cup of green lentils 1/2 of a yellow onion, peeled and cut into a small dice, about 1/4-inch 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small dice 1 clove of garlic, minced 1 bay leaf 3 to 3 1/2 cups of chicken broth Salt and pepper, to taste Chopped parsley, about 1/2 cup Red wine vinegar to taste Pick through the lentils and look for any small stones; discard them if you find any. Rinse the lentils in a strainer, shake off excess liquid and place them in a medium saucepan, along with the onion, carrot, garlic and bay leaf. Add the chicken broth (start with 3 cups), cover the pan and bring to a boil. Once the broth is boiling, turn down the heat and simmer the lentils for about 30 to 35 minutes. Be sure to offset the lid on the pan to avoid a boil-over. As the lentils cook, watch the liquid level; add more stock (or water) if they run dry. Check the lentils for doneness. They should be tender, with a little resistance to the bite and not mushy. If, when the lentils are tender, there is excess liquid in the pan, just pour it off. Reserve that liquid; it can be used if you have leftovers and want to reheat the lentils. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season the lentils with salt and pepper, and add the chopped parsley and red wine vinegar, to taste. Start with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar. The lentils should have a nice acidic pucker to them to offset the richness of the salmon. A little kick is a good thing. Roasted Salmon 4 skinless salmon filets, about 5 to 6 ounces each Olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste Chopped parsley, about 2 tablespoons Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with a silicon baking mat or piece of aluminum foil. Put the salmon filets on the pan, brush them with a small amount of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes. Nick a piece with a knife to see the center is just cooked through. Don't overcook; the salmon should be pink and moist. Serve the salmon on top of the lentils and sprinkle with parsley. Raise a glass of pinot noir and visualize yourself in a Parisian cafe. Bon appétit!