I’ve served salmon with lentils probably dozens of times since Mike and I have been sharing meals, and while it’s a great combination, last night I decided to change it up a bit. Since we were away last weekend and weren’t able to do our usual food safari, I had to stock up on a few provisions earlier in the week. I went a little crazy at Greenwich Produce, bringing home fingerling potatoes, Meyer lemons, little stem cherry tomatoes (I know, I know, but they were so pretty and jewel-like I couldn’t resist), red and golden beets, and a gorgeous bunch of rainbow chard. Since chard and lentils play so well together in soup, I thought I’d combine them to go alongside our salmon fillets.
I started by separating the chard stems from the leaves, trimming the bottoms and slicing the stems thinly. I sautéed them in a bit of olive oil along with a couple of smashed garlic cloves and a pinch of kosher salt until they were tender, and then added a cup of Puy lentils. I poured two cups of water into the pot, added a generous amount of fresh thyme, covered it and let it simmer over low heat. While the lentils were cooking, I rolled up the chard leaves like little cigars, sliced them into about 1 inch ribbons and gave them a good rinse, letting them drain but leaving a little water clinging to their leaves. When the lentils were tender and had absorbed almost all of the liquid in the pot, I added the chard leaves, gently stirring them through until they were just wilted. I dribbled in a little sherry vinegar, gave it another stir, and spooned the mixture onto our plates, topping them with our salmon and a quick little pan sauce of sharp Dijon mustard, white wine, and lemon juice with a knob of cold butter whisked in at the end.
The salmon was great but I really loved the chard and lentil combo. It was quick and wholesome and would actually make a great meal on its own, topped with a little feta or goat cheese (or one of my favorite poached eggs). I liked it so well, in fact, that I’ve packed the leftovers for my lunch today. As Terry B can attest, sometimes the side dish really is the star of the show.