Pan Roasted Salmon over Lentils

For lentils:

4 C of chopped vegetables (equal portions of diced onion, celery, carrot)

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4 strips of slab bacon, diced and cooked in  2T of olive oil

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Cook bacon in the soup pot. Once it is crispy, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off excess bacon grease.

Cook bacon in the soup pot. Once it is crispy, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and pour off excess bacon grease.

Rinse one pound of lentils.

Rinse one pound of lentils.

Finely chop 6-8 garlic cloves.

Finely chop 6-8 garlic cloves.

Add 1/4 C of olive oil to the soup pot that has bacon residue. Add vegetables, garlic, a pinch of salt and cracked pepper and sauce until vegetable begin to soften. Add about 3 T of tomato paste and mix in well. Continue to sauce until paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Deep brownish coloring on the bottom of the pan is desirable. Careful with your heat. This is flavor enhancing at its best! Once the pan bottom is sticky, add 1 C of red wine. Scrape up bits and bring mixture to a boil. Evaporate most of the wine until a thick bubbly consistency is achieved.  
Add 1/4 C of olive oil to the soup pot that has bacon residue. Add vegetables, garlic, a pinch of salt and cracked pepper and sauté until vegetables begin to soften. Add about 3 T of tomato paste and mix in well. Continue to sauté until paste begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Deep brownish coloring on the bottom of the pan is desirable. Careful with your heat. This is flavor enhancing at its best! Once the pan bottom is sticky, add 1 C of red wine. Scrape up bits and bring mixture to a boil. Evaporate most of the wine until a thick bubbly consistency is achieved.

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Add fresh thyme, 5-6 bay leaves, 6 C of vegetable stock and reserved bacon. Bring to a boil. Cover and lower heat. Simmer until lentils are tender. Additional stock may need to be added. You are not looking for a “soupy” consistency. So, just keep enough stock in the pot to prevent lentils from “drying” out. Adjust season with salt and pepper. Lentils, of course, can be prepared a day ahead. These lentils are great the next day as a soup. Just add additional stock to achieve desirable consistency. Leftover lentils can be frozen too.

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For salmon:

I used Norwegian Center Cut Salmon Filets. Rinse filets and pat them dry. Preheat a non-stick/oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Add 2T of olive oil to the hot pan. Oil should easily travel over the bottom of the pan. Slight smoking is ok. Generously season the filet with salt and cracked pepper. Carefully place the filet in the pan. A good sizzle is desirable. Add additional filets. Do not crowd the skillet. Use two skillets or cook in batches if you are preparing a large amount of fish. Allow the fish to sizzle, WITHOUT TOUCHING!, until it is cooked about halfway through. You can watch the side of the filet as the color turns. Carefully turn fish over. A nice brown crust should be revealed. Place fish into a preheated 450 degree oven for about 5 minutes to finish cooking. Fish should feel just firm to the touch. Remember that cooking continues outside of the oven!

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For presentation:

Place a portion of warmed lentils on a plate. Top lentils with the pan roasted filet. Drizzle EVOO over the top of the salmon.

In a bowl, very lightly dress baby arugula and cherry tomatoes with EVOO, white wine vinegar and a spritz of salt and cracked pepper.

Mound salad mix on top of salmon. Lovely meal.

Gorgeous brown crust. Crisp texture and a hint of sweetness as you bite into a succulent piece of flaky salmon.

Gorgeous brown crust. Crisp texture and a hint of sweetness as you bite into a succulent piece of flaky salmon.

A favorite around here.

A favorite around here.

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