Over the years, I’ve gotten considerably more fond of lentils. They are so much more than just soup. I love lentil salads. And that’s almost what this is (and can be!). It makes a great backdrop for a piece of grilled salmon, cod or Branzino. And that’s what we’re doing with it today.I’m using my newly made Kentucky Bar Fight Jam as a sauce. It’s the perfect sauce consistency, not quite as thick as it should be to spread on toast or with cheese. Things happen!
I’m grilling a lovely piece of Norwegian salmon, which I’ve marinated in lime zest, frozen orange juice concentrate and salt and pepper. I thought lentils would be a good backdrop for that, so here we go!
This is relatively easy and I think is better, if made a few hours before serving. Just reheat for a couple of minutes, before you’re planning to serve. When I make this ahead, because I usually do so, I add the herb after I reheat it. Speaking of herbs (wasn’t that a clever little segue?), I like this with oregano or lemon balm, as well as the mint. I usually only use one herbs with this, as there’s a lot happening, flavor-wise. For some reason, I’m not as fond of basil with this, and I love basil. But, you should try it, as you might love it! I think I might try this with a little rosemary, if I serve it with chicken, but I haven’t done that…yet! Here is we go with a pictorial “recipe”….
Also, I omitted the tomato this time, because the salmon and it’s sauce are not as compatible with tomato. Also, I used julienned orange zest, as I thought my Mandarin was past its prime.
Lentils with Carrot-Fennel-Onion and Orange
This is a lovely dish to prepare for company.
- 1 cup dried lentils (preferably French lentilles du Puy)
- Hot water
- 1 teaspoon dry vegetable base (optional, but I usually use it)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion (or Vidalia)
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb (with fronds, if possible)
- 2 large garlic cloves, grated
- 1 small Mandarin, seeded and diced (see NOTE)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup diced, seeded tomato (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (optional and as needed)
- 1-2 teaspoons very finely julienned fresh mint (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoon excellent-flavored olive oil for drizzling
To prepare the lentils: Rinse and drain the lentils. In a 2-quart saucepan, cover the lentils with cold water by 1 to 2-inches; bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 10 to 25 minutes (the time will depend on the type and age of the lentils); test after 8 minutes. When the lentils are still under-cooked, remove the pan from the heat and set aside for about 10 minutes. Taste; they should be tender now. Some of the water will have been absorbed. Drain in a sieve set over a bowl; reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.
While lentils are simmering, heat a 2 to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Add the olive oil; stir in onion, fennel, carrot, bay leaf, garlic, and salt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 7 minutes. Remove lid, add the Mandarin and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until golden, 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat source; stir in lentils with enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten (1/4 to 1/2 cup). Add the tomato, and black pepper; set aside. Taste and add the lemon juice, if you feel it needs a little spark. This can be prepared, up to this point, two hours before serving; reheat for 2 minutes to serve.
Just before serving, stir the mint into the hot lentil mixture. Top with the fish fillet and drizzle with additional extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If you do not have Mandarins, a couple of tablespoons of diced preserved lemons are delicious. Or remove several strips of lemon or orange peel; cut into very thin julienne. You should about 2-3 teaspoons. Add it with the onion mixture. You may use oregano, lemon balm, or parsley instead of the mint, if you wish. I usually use only one herb (and parsley).
Lentils with Carrot-Fennel-Onion and Orange Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2021. All rights reserved.
The lentil mixture is excellent served at room temperature, on the side of grilled chicken or fish, as well. You may like a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if you wish. And voilà! you have a salad!