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Herbed Salmon with Lentils and Red Wine Sauce

Chef Amy Scherber recalls that she and chef Kerry Heffernan first cooked this dish when they were skiing in Colorado "and had to make a meal in a little condo kitchen with one pot and one burner." Today they serve it with steamed broccoli rabe.

slideshow Amazing Seafood Recipes

  • Servings: 6

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  • 2 cups French du Puy lentils (about 14 ounces), rinsed and picked over
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
  • 2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
salmon and red wine sauce
  • 2 fresh tarragon sprigs, leaves finely chopped, stems reserved
  • 2 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves finely chopped, stems reserved
  • 2 fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Six 7-ounce skinless salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1/2 cup port
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice


  1. In a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and thyme sprigs, cover and cook for 15 more minutes. Stir in the kosher salt and cook until the lentils are softened but still slightly firm, 5 to 8 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped tarragon, parsley and chives, kosher salt, sugar, orange zest and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Spread the herb mixture evenly on both sides of the salmon and arrange the fillets in a large baking dish. Let marinate at room temperature for 3 hours. 
  3. In a nonreactive medium saucepan, combine the red wine, port, vinegar, shallots and tarragon and parsley stems. Boil over high heat until reduced to a generous 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Strain the mixture into a small nonreactive saucepan and bring back to a boil over moderate heat. Lower the heat and gradually whisk in the butter until the sauce is slightly thickened; do not let the sauce boil. Season with table salt and pepper and keep warm.
  4. Heat a large, heavy, nonstick skillet. Brush the herbs from the salmon and cook the fillets in two batches over moderate heat, turning once, until nicely browned and just opaque throughout, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and keep warm; cook the remaining salmon.
  5. Discard the thyme sprigs from the lentils. Make a bed of the lentils on 6 plates. Set the salmon fillets on top, spoon the red wine sauce over the fish and lentils and serve.

Make Ahead

The lentils can stand at room temperature for 3 hours or in the refrigerator for up to 1 day; reheat before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Salmon can pair successfully with light reds as well as rich whites, and the red wine sauce on this pan-cooked version settles the issue. A light, tart and fruity West Coast Pinot Noir, such as the Ponzi from Oregon or the Gloria Ferrer from California, served slightly cool, will showcase the fish.

Contributed By Published February 1996

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