Saumon rôti aux lentilles épicées

Roasted salmon with spicy lentils

This is a modular dish. You can serve the salmon on a bed of spicy lentils with baby spinach as garnish, as shown above, or with lentils and sautéd spinach on the side, or with another side dish of your choosing. Although salmon marries beautifully with lentils, fillets of any white-fleshed fish could also be used. The fish is lightly spiced with cumin, while the lentils are cooked with onions, cumin and curry powder for a heady flavor.

It takes only half an hour to make this dish from beginning to end. Preheat the oven — it should be good and hot to produce a tandoori effect of outer crispiness and inner tenderness. Then get the lentils going. When the oven is hot, roast the fish — the salmon will need about 20 minutes. Then finish the lentils, which also need about 20 minutes.

The quantities below will serve 2 generously.

For the fish:
1 pound (450 g) fresh salmon fillets (2 pavés de saumon)
2 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
lemon pieces and fresh herbs for garnish: dill, cilantro or parsley

For the lentils:
1 medium onion or 2 small onions
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 cup (150 g) lentils
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. hot curry powder, or 1 tsp. curry powder plus 1 crushed cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic
fresh herbs: dill, cilantro or parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 F (210 C, gasmark 7).

Rinse the fish fillets and dry thoroughly with paper towels. This is important, as the fish will not roast properly if damp.

Start the lentils. Mince the onions. Heat the olive oil to sizzling in a saucepan or skillet. Sauté the onions until wilted. Add the cumin and curry powder (plus the cayenne if using). Stir to blend. Add the lentils and stir-fry briefly, about 30 seconds. Add the water. Simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Check from time to time and add more water as needed.

While the lentils are simmering, turn to the fish. Oil a roasting pan or line it with parchment paper. Coat the fish fillets with olive oil. Place in the pan. Sprinkle with the cumin, salt and pepper. When the oven is good and hot, roast the fish until starting to brown. To check for doneness, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of a fillet. If the flesh is translucent, continue to roast. If the flesh is opaque, the fish is done.

While the fish is roasting, check the lentils. When they are tender, add the salt and pepper. Mince the garlic finely and add. Snip in the fresh herbs. Stir. Turn heat to low.

When the fish is ready, assemble the plates, adding a piece of lemon and a sprig of herbs to each. Serves 2.

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