Speedy Elegance

I pride myself on my ability to put together a pretty spiffy dinner in a relatively short period of time. But sometimes, I put together a dish that really needs to be shared. The kind of dish every cook should have on hand for easy and elegant entertaining:

Wait … what?

That's right. This dish is easy to make and incredibly elegant on the plate. It's dinner guest ready and impresses all around the table. Now, if you aren't a fan of heat, you'll need to tweak the curry and berbere choices to keep the sizzle minimized, but otherwise, this is a very reliable dish that is likely to have you being asked about the recipe. The recipe below makes 2 servings, because that's how I made it -- as a romantic, delicious meal for my husband and me. That said, it can easily be multiplied to accommodate the number of people that will be sitting at your table.

This dish calls for red lentils and I highly recommend you use them. I know there are a zillion different types of lentils, but red lentils give this dish that signature golden color that pairs so beautifully with the salmon. As for the salmon, I choose fish with skin on one side because the combination of the oil and spicy seasoning gave it a beautiful crust that I enjoyed immensely. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Spicy Seared Salmon Over Curried Lentils

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 c. finely chopped red onion
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped carrot
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 small tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • 2 (6-ounce) wild salmon fillets
  • Berbere seasoning - to suit your spice/flavoring preferences

Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3-4 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the carrot and yellow bell pepper. Continue to cook 5-7 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Add the garlic, ginger and curry powder, stir several times and cook for less than a half minute or until the mixture is fragrant. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add the lentils, reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 20 minutes or until lentils are very tender, adding more broth as necessary.

Cook the salmon while the lentils cook. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat the salmon fillets well on all side with the Berbere seasoning.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salmon and cook 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven and bake 10 minutes or to an internal temperature of 145 degrees and salmon easily flakes with a fork.

Adjust the seasoning as needed before serving the fish over the lentils.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

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