The weekend just before Valentine’s Day, David and I ventured up to San Francisco for an early celebration. Over-the-top festivities have never been our style — evidence of such: our quiet, courthouse wedding, perfect gifts being a blow torch and roses for me, assorted beers for him — so a grazing tour at the Ferry Building was perfect. We started the day with cappuccinos from Blue Bottle — fantastic, as always. The coffee line is always crazy-long, so I had plenty of time to wander over to Boccalone to pick up (and consume pre-cappuccino) a mixed salumi cone. The orange and wild fennel was my favorite of the bunch, but the mortadella was quite tasty as well. (Previously, I’ve tried the nduja, capocollo and soppressata; if you love cured meats as much as I do, you cannot go wrong in this shop. Bonus: they sell Dry Soda, the Rhubarb flavor is my favorite.)
Finally, we hit up the Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick for a spot of lunch. At first glance, the menu appeared not at all friendly to a gluten-free eater — sandwiches and cheese plates served with crackers and crostini abound. However, just before ordering the tomato soup (minus the croutons), I spotted the easily missed French lentil salad which sounded more substantial, as well as a better followup to the meat cone. It’s typically served with crostini (not listed on the menu), but the gentleman at the counter assured me it was otherwise gluten-free — score! Here’s a pic.
I enjoyed the salad so much that I decided to make my own version — topped with salmon — a mere three days later. To bring out the brinyness of the feta a little more, I tossed in some capers — plus, the jar of ’em had been hanging out in my fridge, unopened, for longer than I care to admit. Despite loving [just about] anything pickled, I wanted to disguise them a bit — some were minced (to toss with the lentils), and others were left whole then fried. The latter application is inspired by the grilled romaine salad I enjoyed (per my sister’s recommendation) several years ago at the Red Fez in Providence — used as a topping, they add a fantastic burst of salty crunch.
With the Mardi Gras celebrations at an end, what better way to kick off Lent — or incorporate more legumes and omega-3s into your diet.
French Lentil Salad with Salmon, Arugula and Feta
Preparation Time: 45 minutes
- 227 grams (1/2 pound) French (du Puy) lentils
- 4 cups (1 liter or 907 grams) water
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 28 grams (1 tablespoon) olive iil
- 1 – 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers in brine, drain and pat dry
- 20 grams (4 teaspoons) minced shallot
- 56 grams (about 1/4 cup or 2 medium) peeled, finely chopped (brunoise) carrot
- 1 tablespoon non-pareil capers in brine, drain and pat dry, mince
- 28 grams (1 tablespoon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 14 grams (1 1/2 teaspoons) red wine vinegar
- 20 grams (4 teaspoons) whole grain Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
- 57 grams (2 tablespoons) olive oil
- 28 grams+ (1 tablespoon+) olive oil
- 4 (about 1 pound total) skin-on salmon fillets, pat dry with paper towels
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 6 ounce package arugula, wash and dry very well
- 28 grams+ (1 tablespoon+) olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
- 57 grams (1/2 cup) feta cheese, crumbled
- Chives, finely chopped (optional)
Combine lentils and water in a 2-quart or larger pot. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in salt, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes or until lentils are tender (not mushy). Drain into a fine mesh sieve, rinse with cool water to stop cooking and drain. Place in a large, heatproof bowl.
While lentils are cooking, fry capers. Place small pan over medium heat, warm oil until shimmering. Add capers, fry until crisp (1-2 minutes). Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; set aside.
Sauté Veggies and Make Vinaigrette:
Into the caper frying pan (there should still be some oil), sauté shallot and carrots until softened and browned in spots. Transfer cooked mixture to bowl with lentils. Add chopped capers to bowl and gently stir/toss to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice through black pepper. Whisking constantly, gradually pour in olive oil until vinaigrette is emulsified. Pour mixture over lentils, gently stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a large frying pan over medium heat (I use my All-Clad d5 Stainless-Steel 4-Qt. Deep Sauté Pan with Splatter Screen), heat a thin layer of olive oil (1 tablespoon+) until shimmering.
Place fillets, skin side down, into pan; sprinkle top with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, flip. Cook for 1 minute (remove skin, if desired, while cooking), flip again. Cook for 1 more minute or more, depending on doneness desired. Remove fillets to a clean plate to prevent overcooking.
Plate and Serve:
In a large bowl, toss arugula with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste (add more olive oil if desired). Divide arugula between 4 dinner plates. Stir lentil mixture, divide into mounds atop arugula. Sprinkle arugula and lentils with feta. Top with salmon and finish with a sprinkle of fried capers and chives, if desired. Serve immediately.