90% of the salmon cooked in my household is grilled on a cedar plank. Which is absolutely delicious, mind you, but sometimes you need a little variation. This dish was inspired by one I had dining at the Wine Cask in Santa Barbara, as well as by the gorgeous fennel bought at the farmer's market last weekend. —Ben York
Salmon filet, cut into four equal pieces, with the skin on
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Dice one half of the fennel bulb into small pieces and add to oil with carrots. Sauté 10 minutes until soft and tender but not brown.
Add garlic, dried herbs, and lentils, tossing the mixture to coat the lentils with oil. Sauté for 2-3 minutes and add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 20-30 minutes until lentils have absorbed the liquid and are tender (if lentils are tender but liquid remains in the pot, simply drain liquid and add lentils back to the pot to keep warm)
Pat the salmon thoroughly dry on both sides. Season with salt and pepper and place skin-side down in a cast-iron pan coated with 3tbsp oil. Place pan on the stove and turn heat to medium-high.
Cook salmon until it has turned opaque all the way up and down the sides of the fillet and the skin is crisp, anywhere from 5-10 minutes. (10 minutes may seem like a long time but when the fish only cooks on one side, the skin shields the delicate flesh from overcooking.)
Once skin is crispy, flip fillets over and cook 1-2 minutes until just cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel, leaving the skin-side up.
While fish rests, shave the other half of the fennel bulb on a mandoline and add to a small bowl with 1/4 cup torn parsley leaves. Toss in extra virgin olive oil and salt and set aside.
Pull fennel fronds from stems and add to food processor along with remaining parsley. Season with salt and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped. While processor is running, stream in 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil until pesto comes together in desired consistency.
Spoon lentils into a bowl and top with salmon fillet, then add dollop of pesto and shaved fennel and parsley salad on top.