Saumon rôti aux lentilles épicées

Roasted salmon on a bed of spicy lentils is a dish that delivers the comfort we crave in winter without too much heft. Here, the dish is paired with spinach for a combination that’s as pleasing to the eye as to the palette. I made this dish last week during a cold snap in Paris — below-freezing temperatures and snow that didn’t melt for days, a rare event over here. After fireside suppers featuring heavier winter dishes, the salmon made a welcome change.

Saumon rôti aux lentilles épicées / Roasted salmon with spicy lentils

The weather has turned warmer now — can you believe I have daisies, carnations and nasturtiums in bloom outside my veranda? — but it’s incredibly gray and depressing. This is a typical Paris January. Last year I decided to get out of town in hopes of escaping the gloom. Went to visit my brother and sister-in-law in California, and got a douche froide (cold shower) as the state was treated to ‘atmospheric rivers’ (read: constant downpours) and a ‘bomb cyclone’ (read: gale-force winds). So this year I stayed home.

As the cold is bound to return, both here and elsewhere, I thought I’d share some of the dishes I’ve been making to cheer this frigid season, in hopes of inspiring you. Over the last month or so I’ve served: gratin of Belgian endive with country ham; paupiettes de veau (stuffed veal scallops) with celeriac purée, preceded by frisée aux lardons (curly endive with bacon — cannot believe I haven’t posted that recipe, coming soon); harissa chicken; veal stewed in white wine with cauliflower purée; sole meunière preceded by oysters and foie gras (Christmas Eve); stuffed roast of guinea hen with cabbage purée, preceded by Russian-style gravalax (Christmas Day); Ukrainian ‘syrniki’ pancakes (Boxing Day brunch); and lobster tails with beurre blanc sauce (New Years Eve). That was all in December.

After all that entertaining, I slowed down this month, mainly cooking for my daugher and myself, as well as a couple of guests. So far I’ve served roast chicken with mashed potatoes, preceded by leeks with vinaigrette sauce; brandade de morue (puréed salt cod and potatoes); potée auvergnate (cabbage and veggie soup with sausage); cauliflower gratin; poulet bonne femme (chicken with bacon, mushrooms and onion); penne à l’arrabiata; lamb chops with rosemary; chili con carne (not on the site yet); and the roasted salmon with lentils. Whew! That’s a lot of cooking. Think I’ll take a break…

For the record, although it is definitely a lot of cooking, I find that going into the kitchen is a great way to relax. I enjoy making beautiful food for my friends — indeed, I often say that cooking is my art form. And I also enjoy making lovely meals for just me and my daughter, or even just myself. It’s an esthetic experience…

Happy cooking.

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