A dish of lentils and salmon is a classic in any French bistro. Lean, mellow lentils complement the richness of the fish. This version, found on FineCooking.com includes a Moroccan-inspired spice rub on the salmon. You can better distribute those aromatic spices throughout the dish by flaking the salmon into the lentils as you eat.
Did you know that French lentils are a variety of green lentils, and what sets them apart from standard green lentils is their slightly darker hue and smaller size? They’re about one third the size of standard green lentils. They hold their shape extremely well and are therefore an ideal contender in dishes when you’d rather they not turn to mush. Their flavor is also slightly different than other types—a bit nutty and peppery, with a slight mineral-like, earthy flavor.
Not only are lentils a great source of protein, they are chockfull of health benefits too. These include include improved digestion, a healthy heart, diabetes control, cancer management, weight loss, prevention of anemia, and better electrolytic activity due to potassium.
But there’s also a downside. Although lentils are good for your health and are the best alternative for meat, poultry, and fish, they also have few disadvantages, which include risk of kidney stones. Therefore, individuals who have kidney stones should stay away from legumes and lentils.
NOTE: Puy lentils, or lentilles du Puy, are French lentils that have been grown in the Puy region of central France.
North African Spiced Salmon over French Lentils
- 1 cup French lentils (lentils du Puy), rinsed
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, finely diced
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley; more for serving, if you like
- 1 Tbs. drained capers
- 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
- Fine sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
- 4 6-oz. salmon fillets, skinless or skin on
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- In a 4-quart saucepan, bring the lentils and 3 cups water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer, add the apricots, and gently simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 35 to 45 minutes. Drain.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the lentils, parsley, capers, lemon zest and juice, and 1/4 tsp. salt, and stir to combine. Keep warm over low heat.
- Combine the cumin, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, allspice, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Pat the spice mix onto the salmon.
- Heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in another 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salmon, flesh side down, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn and cook to your liking, another 2 to 3 minutes for salmon that’s barely opaque in the center.
- Serve the salmon over the lentils, garnished with more parsley, if you like, and with the lemon wedges.
Recipe by Marge Perry from Fine Cooking