I suppose it's a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or perhaps it's the more selfish but very American "If I can't have it, I want it". I any event, I find my thoughts lately wandering overseas and all those places I won't be able to see for a couple of years while C-boy (hopefully...please God) grows more travel able. Of course with me I only have to have a glimmer of France, particularly Paris, in my head and I immediately start wandering in my mind and appetite. Strolling around the Marais, stopping here and there for café au lait and brioche. Making a mid-afternoon fueling stop at L'as du Fallafel for one of their out of this world falafels. Taking in the solemn and celebratory beauty of the L’église Saint-Eustache, my favorite Parisian church. Of course dinner at a cozy bistro is never far away....except for now.
So I have to satisfy some of my needs at home. Lots of French wine, for sure. And if I happen to have a deserving bottle of Bourgogne Blanc calling my name, then what better to pair it with than a classic of French cooking, Saumon aux Lentilles. This is so simple, just a fresh salmon fillet topped with a mustard-herb butter, resting on a bed of French green lentils. In these days of unsatisfied wanderlust, I'll take my vacations where I can find them, even at my dinner table!
*** *** *** *** ***
Saumon aux Lentilles
from epicurious/Gourmet Magazine
For mustard herb butter-
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups water
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 (6-ounce) pieces skinless salmon fillet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Stir together all ingredients with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Bring lentils, water, and 3/4 teaspoon salt to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid, then drain lentils. While lentils cook, chop leeks, then wash. Cook leeks in butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add lentils with reserved cooking liquid to leeks along with 3 tablespoons mustard-herb butter and cook, stirring, until lentils are heated through and butter is melted. Add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.
3-Sauté salmon while leeks cook:
Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total). Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté salmon, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.
Serve salmon, topped with remaining mustard-herb butter, over lentils.