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A Hearty Salmon and Lentil Salad Featuring Two Genius Techniques

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Throughout the cold season, we rely on pantry ingredients like dried herbs and spice blends to transport our kitchens to a warmer place. That's why we've partnered with The Spice Hunter on bright ideas for winter salads.

Salmon cooked low and slow meets well-dressed lentils.
Salmon cooked low and slow meets well-dressed lentils. Photo by Rocky Luten

I knew this Warm Salmon and Lentil Salad was a keeper before I took my first bite. I don’t credit luck or experience or intuition; I credit the recipes that inspired it. It’s hard to go wrong when your source materials are two genius recipes.

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The first, Sally Schneider’s Slow-Roasted Salmon, is a failsafe technique for perfectly flaky, tender, never-dry salmon (or other fish) that just requires cooking them low and slow in the oven. The second, Peter Miller’s Lentils Folded into Yogurt, Spinach, and Basil, is an indestructible salad for picnics, work lunches, and everything in between that teaches us to dress lentils deliberately and in stages so the seasoning and balance are just right.

Since salmon and lentils are one of my favorite pairings and my love for salad knows no bounds, I combined both recipes to create a winter edition that’s hearty enough for the main plate and nuanced in flavor.

Herbes de Provence in the salmon rub and yogurt dressing, plus lots of lemon and fresh greens, keep things bright and lively.
Herbes de Provence in the salmon rub and yogurt dressing, plus lots of lemon and fresh greens, keep things bright and lively. Photo by Rocky Luten

To make the recipes work well together, I did a few simple things: 1. I rubbed Dijon mustard, olive oil, and herbes de Provence on the salmon prior to roasting; 2. I opted for a thick yogurt dressing that echoed the flavors of the rub to dress the lentils (versus the plain Greek yogurt in Peter Miller’s salad); 3. I went heavy on the lemon juice and greens to up the brightness and freshness; and 4. I drizzled more yogurt dressing over the salad before serving to make it more cohesive.

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By adding herbes de Provence to both the salmon rub and yogurt dressing, the salad has plenty of flavor with just one ingredient from my spice rack—a good tip to remember for any and all winter salads. Meanwhile, sprightly greens keep things crisp and lively. The result is a meal that’s just right: bright, fresh, and sunny, like a little postcard from Provence. And who wouldn’t smile to see one of those show up on a cold winter evening, right around dinnertime?

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Warm Salmon and Lentil Salad with Herbes de Provence

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Serves 4

For the yogurt dressing

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence, such as The Spice Hunter's Herbes de Provence Blend
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (full-fat recommended)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence, such as The Spice Hunter's Herbes de Provence Blend
  • 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillet, preferably center-cut
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2-3 cups greens (baby arugula, spinach, mache, mizuna, or a mix)
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Like this recipe idea? Stay tuned for more. We've partnered with The Spice Hunter to bring you several bright ideas for winter salads. Each one highlights the way a spice blend—like the fragrant herbes de Provence, featured here—can bring a dish to life, as well as smart tricks and tips to make your cold-weather salads better than ever.

Tags: lentils, salmon, seafood, salads