Two of my top favorite ingredients to cook with are basil and salmon, so this recipe was especially fun to put together. This recipe also uses the Basil Cubes from my previous post, but you could also use fresh basil and a bit of olive oil, in place of the cubes.
The inspiration for this dish came from a jar of coarse ground Dijon mustard from Trader Joe's. The mustard was filled with so many little mustard seeds, just bursting with flavor, I wanted to use them in a special way.
During the same shopping trip I found a bag of red lentils, which I had never used before. Lentils are commonly used in Indian foods, and have a very unique, slightly nutty flavor. They are also used to thicken soups, which I can't wait to try, but since this type of lentil tends to cook down quickly, I wanted to create a puree with them. A creamy puree, infused with basil. (As a bonus, lentils are packed with fiber, magnesium, iron, B-vitamins and protein, so these little gems are something I'm looking forward to cooking with a lot more.)
So for this dish we combined both ideas. The salmon was quickly seared in a hot skillet, flipped over and coated with a fragrant basil, Dijon and garlic sauce, and served atop the red lentil puree. The flavors of the salmon, basil and lentils came together beautifully, with the basil highlighting the whole dish. This is a really unique combination, and we loved the results. Enjoy!!
2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Red Lentils
1-1/4 cups Chicken Stock or Water
Pinch of Kosher Salt
1 small Basil Cube (or 1 TB chopped fresh basil plus 1 tsp olive oil)
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the lentils and stir to coat, then add the broth or water and the salt to the pan. Cover the pan with a tight lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 12 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
**Note: If you like a completely smooth puree, you could blend the lentils at this point using a stick blender, but I liked the added texture of the lentils so we skipped the blender this time.
Add the basil cube (or fresh basil) to the lentils and stir until blended. Set aside and allow the lentils to thicken until you are ready to prepare the plates.
4 - 6 oz Salmon Portions, skin on, rinsed and patted dry
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 Basil Cube (or substitute 2 TB chopped fresh basil)
2 TB Olive Oil
2 tsp Lemon Juice
1-1/2 tsp Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp Minced Garlic
Place the basil cube in a small glass bowl and microwave for just a few seconds to defrost. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, both mustards and garlic to the bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the salmon to the pan, skin side up and cook for 3 - 4 minutes or until slightly browned. Turn the salmon over and divide the marinade evenly between the portions, smoothing the mixture to the edges of the salmon.
Cover the pan and cook for about 5 - 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon fillets. When the salmon is cooked through, remove the salmon from the skillet and place on a cutting board. Using a long knife, slide the knife between the salmon and the skin, and remove the skin from each piece of salmon.
Spoon a portion of the red lentil puree into the center of each plate, place a salmon fillet on top of the puree and serve.