Monday, July 21, 2008

Salmon and French Lentils with Roasted Red Pepper

I needed a simple, balanced meal for a weekday this week because I'm running like a maniac with meetings, events, etc. Only one night to chill at home with a thoughtful meal. I picked up some fresh salmon this weekend in Chinatown, and since I'm a bit salad-weary (I know, right? How could that be?) I stopped at the Farmer's Market on Monday night in Union Square for some locally-grown broccoli to go with it. I needed a good lentil dish for the side, but I couldn't find one that I liked. So I made one up.

Salmon & French Lentils with Roasted Red Pepper

1 lb fresh salmon
1 small head of broccoli
1 cup uncooked french lentils (a bit smaller than the usual kind)
1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable stock
1 red bell pepper
1 small white or yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, ground coriander
olive oil
sesame seeds
Diced tomato (optional)

Roast one red bell pepper over an open flame. Everybody thinks this means having a fire or something, but you can do it over a flame on your gas stove. Once the pepper is black all around, let it cool a bit, and then stick it in a plastic bag and pop it in the fridge. Boil one cup of lentils in 2 1/2 cups of water and one 1/2 cup of thick vegetable stock with all of the above spices. While the lentils are boiling, saute the diced onion and garlic in a cast iron pan until carmelized. Toss the onion/garlic into the not-yet-done lentils. Take your pepper out of the fridge and scrape all of the black off of the outside. Dice and add to the lentils. You can increase the moisture (and taste) with some diced tomato. Cook until lentils are nice and tender. You can make this one day ahead of time and refrigerate to let the flavors steep.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and place the salmon piece in a baking dish. Lightly coat the salmon with olive oil and sesame seeds (or, if you're lucky enough to find it, a sesame-seeweed rice seasoning that you can get from an asian grocery....I use Ebi Fumi Furikake rice seasoning, costs $2.45 and it lasts for months! It has sesame seeds, hydrogenated shrimp, potato starch, seaweed, sugar, salt, and egg yolk) and stick in the oven for about 15 minutes.

While the salmon is baking, cut up some broccoli florets and stick 'em in a veggie steamer (you can also lightly cook in a shallow pan with some boiling water).

By the time the salmon is done, everything else should be ready. If you want to get really fancy, take 3 tbsp yogurt, dice up 3 scallions, a small handful of cilantro, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, and paprika to make a sauce. (Sauce not pictured above).

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