One of the foods that are really going to help us out are lentils. High in protein, high in carbohydrates but they take on the flavors you cook them with, so they don’t have to taste taste healthy. But they are. Well, unless you cook it with a pound of bacon and then deep fry it.
Lentils are a legume, plentifully grown here in the Pacific Northwest, and readily available in the bulk bins in the grocery stores. As you’ll see, they are really easy to cook with… But, while we’re talking about that, let’s talk about cookbooks.
Some cookbooks are written for a lower level cook than others. Some use words like ‘emulsified’ rather than just ‘mixed in.’
Don’t get me started on the usefulness of ‘Heat the oil until just before smoking.’ But, at the same time, I’m from small town New England, where directions often would include such things as ‘Turn after the house that burned down last summer’ or ‘Stop about 3 miles before the church,’ so, hey, I get it, I do. And much like those natives who know where the house was that burned down, a really good chef can probably put their hand right over the pan and know exactly how close they are.
Me? I’m not one of those chefs. Despite that, I won’t add ‘Open the windows’ and ‘Turn on the range hood’ to the directions.
After all, you’re smarter than that. And don’t be like me, your email can wait.
A little bit more about this recipe. The name in the cookbook is Pan-Roasted Halibut with Toasted Bread-Crumb Salad and Green Lentils. We didn’t do the toasted bread-crumb salad. And, while the halibut takes center stage in the title, it’s nothing but a salt-and-pepper seasoned pan fried halibut.
The lentils are where this dish shines, and really could make a dish on their own. Easily made vegetarian.
Green Lentils (With a Pan Cooked Halibut Afterthought)
- Dried, green lentils, 1 cup
- Olive Oil, 2 tablespoons
- Garlic, minced, 1.5 teaspoons
- Carrots, finely diced, 1/4 cup
- Celery, finely diced, 1/4 cup
- Onions, finely diced, 1/4 cup
- Chicken stock, 1.5 cups
- Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, 2 teaspoons
- Fresh sage, chopped, 1 teaspoon
- Fresh rosemary, chopped, 1 teaspoon
- Fresh thyme, chopped, 1 teaspoon
- Fresh oregano, chopped, 1 teaspoon
- Butter, cold, cubed, 3 tablespoons
- Halibut fillet, skinned and cut into 4 portions, approx 1/3lb per person.
- Salt, pepper, and olive oil for frying.
- Bring some salted water to a boil. A couple cups of water will be enough.
- Add the lentils and reduce the heat a little bit. We don’t want the water to be boiling, just simmering.
- Cook for approximately 15 minutes (until the lentils are tender.)
- Drain the lentils and set aside.
- In a larger sauce pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the minced garlic and stir for a minute.
- Add the carrots, celery and onion and cook for a couple more minutes, still stirring.
- Add the lentils, chicken stock and herbs and bring to a boil. At this point, you could put the lentils (covered, and after allowing to cool) in the fridge for a couple of days and continue with the following steps, after bringing the mixture back to a boil.
- Once boiling, add the cubed butter and mix until the butter is melted and mixed into the lentils.
- Set the lentils aside and keep them warm.
- Heat a large sauce pan over high heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. If it starts to smoke, turn the heat back (and turn on the fan in the range hood, open windows, etc).
- Salt and pepper the halibut on both sides.
- Cook in the pan for about 5 minutes on side one, flip to side two for about 2 minutes.
Note: Really, the halibut, while it is fresh this time of the year, and highly flavorful, is such an afterthought in this dish. A tasty afterthought, but grilled chicken, salmon, pork, really, almost anything would be tasty on this. It’s all about the lentils. Heck, you could just mix in ground beef into the lentils.
This dish has inspired me (no lie) to do a lot more with lentils, using this dish as a base. Not to mention just finding other lentil recipes.
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