Recipe Review

This Salmon and French Lentil Salad Is All About the Caper-Herb Vinaigrette

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Sometimes you want food that’s comforting or warming, but sometimes you just want to feel fancy. This pan-seared salmon with French Puy lentil salad is the perfect meal for days like the latter. The salmon has a crispy skin and an elegant, flavorful herb-caper vinaigrette that will make you feel like putting on nice clothes and getting out the good plates. 

To get the perfect crispy skin, let the salmon come to room temperature before you try to cook it, and pat it dry on both sides. The author says seasoning the fish just before putting it in the pan will help the skin crisp even better. 

Let the pan get hot before adding the oil, then add the oil and let it get warm. Once it’s shimmering, carefully put the salmon in the pan skin-side down. The author says to press down on the salmon with a spatula for a few seconds to help the skin cook into a flat shape so it doesn’t buckle and cook unevenly. Cook the salmon skin-side down until it’s almost all the way cooked, then flip it over to finish off the bottom. 

Serve the salmon with the crispy skin on top, with a light caper vinaigrette dressing. Combine a finely diced shallot with some drained, chopped capers, some fresh lemon juice and olive oil, along with salt, pepper, and chopped fresh herbs. Whisk the vinaigrette together and taste it for flavor. It’s going on salmon, not a dressing, so the author says the flavor should be “puckery and acidic.” 

You can make the French lentil salad in advance, because French Puy lentils hold their shape well after cooking and the flavors will taste even better the second day. Combine diced celery, carrot, garlic, and a bay leaf in a saucepan with the lentils and water, and bring it to a boil. Let them cook for about 20 minutes. Drain them once they’re cooked and tender, and set them aside to cool. For the dressing, combine Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, and olive oil until it’s emulsified and slightly thickened. Toss the lentils in the dressing and add diced onions, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, dill, and some toasted walnuts for crunch. This makes a spectacularly fancy side dish with the salmon, and you can even crumble cheese on it and have it for a lunch salad later. 

Credit: Celeste Noche

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