Seared Salmon with French Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter

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So I’ve been strolling back on Memory Lane lately. Probably having something to do with being “cooped up” at home because of the COVID-19 “Stay at home” order and not being able to be planning this season’s yacht cruising adventure.

But, as frustrating as it is to accept that there’s probably no Summer cruising season for me, it’s also been fun looking through photos from other cruises and seeing what guests (and crew!) have enjoyed and thinking about what I can share with all of you.

So, this one is one from a owner’s overnight “Shakedown Cruise” I did a while back. The Mrs. had a bunch of food constraints and I’d never really cooked for both of them before, having just catered/served a number of “Christmas cruises” for their corporate and family guests in the past.

Most of you may look at the title of this recipe and think “Lentils!” — you have to start those WAY early. Not with French green lentils. They are smaller, softer and are the perfect way to do lentils last-minute. Also for those who think they don’t like lentils, I challenge you to try there. They aren’t the grainy, dense legume you are used to. And, when cooked and sauteed with leeks and a composed butter that incorporates mustard and fresh herbs…I mean, how can you go wrong?

For this recipe, because there’s no fancy sauce on the salmon or anything to conceal it’s flavor, it’s CRUCIAL that you buy good quality salmon, the freshest you can get. I used to think fresh seafood meant you only had to spritz lemon on it; now I know…lemon is a freshener. If you need more lemon on this salmon beyond what’s in the butter, it was too old…

I hope you enjoy this simple, but flavorful recipe. And, as you can see from the plating, it doesn’t require much to be “restaurant quality.”

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Seared Salmon with Lentils and Mustard-Herb Butter

An easy but fabulous entree featuring crisp pan-seared salmon filet, French green lentils and a composed mustard-herb butter to tie them together.
Course: Entree
Keyword: composed butter, easy salmon dinner, elegant salmon dinner, french lentils, lentils, quick salmon dinner, salmon, seared salmond
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Salmon

  • 4 6-oz pieces skinless salmon filet
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Mustard Herb Butter

  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Lentils

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2-1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • First, make the mustard butter. Stir together all butter ingredients along with 1/4 tsp each of fresh cracked pepper and Kosher salt. Set aside but keep at room temperature

For Lentils

  • Bring lentils, water and 3/4 tsp salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove lentils from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid then drain lentils.
  • While the lentils are cooking, cut leeks in 1/2 lengthwise and rinse to remove sand. Chop leeks. Cook leeks in butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until softened but not brown, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Add the drained lentils to the leeks, along with reserved cooking liquid. Add 3 Tbsp of the reserved mustard butter, and cook, stirring, until lentils are cooked through and the butter is melted. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Remove lentils from heat, but keep warm, covered until ready to plate.

For Salmon

  • While the leeks are cooking, pat salmon filets dry and season lightly with a little salt and fresh pepper.
  • Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides. Place salmon, presentation side down and cook until just golden. Turn once during cooking process until salmon is just barely cooked through (or cooked to taste), 6-8 minutes total.
  • To serve, place a small mound of lentils at the top middle of the plate. Place a piece of salmon on top of lentils along with a spoonful of the remaining mustard-herb butter. If desired, garnish with additional chives and fresh cracked pepper.

Notes

NOTE: Mustard-herb butter can be made a day ahead and chilled, in a covered dish.  It can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to a month. When ready to prepare dish, bring butter to room temperature before continuing.

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