Grilled Salmon with Butternut Squash Noodles and Black Lentils
Already a few times we have discussed the different options when buying salmon, concluding that Wild Salmon is always preferable whenever available and budget permitting.
If that is not the case, the best next thing is a sustainably farmed salmon, like the salmon from the Faroe Islands or the one from Maine or New Zealand, as indicated in SeafoodWatch.org: Chinook salmon farmed in New Zealand or Atlantic salmon farmed in Maine or the Faroe Islands – these sources are Good Alternatives.
Salmon is a recent addition to the Mediterranean diet: it is of course not a species that can be found or farmed in the Mediterranean; the price of wild salmon was prohibitive until a couple of decades ago. But now, in our globalized world, it is very easy to find fresh or frozen salmon almost everywhere.
Salmon is an extremely easy fish to handle, very forgiving, always flavorful, ready in a whim. And always rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, that we never get enough of and are very helpful for a healthy diet. Combined with the wonderful properties of lentils, sweet peppers and butternut squash noodles, it becomes an extremely nutritious dinner, very pleasant to the eye as well.
It would be a great option for a dinner with friends, as every ingredient of this dish can be made in advance.
The combination of colors is a true pleasure for the eyes – and as a rule of thumb eating colorful food guarantees a good and varied contribution to our health of all kinds of vitamins.
For 2 Servings
• 2 pieces of Salmon – approximately 6 to 8 oz each., skin off
• A teaspoon of honey
• The juice of 1 orange
• The juice of half a lemon
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Butternut Squash Noodles, 1 pound
• Salt and Pepper, EVOO, 2-3 tablespoons of water
• ½ cup Black lentils, Salt and pepper, EV olive oil
• 8-10 mini sweet peppers, preferably orange or yellow
• ½ yellow onion
• Salt and Pepper, EVOO, 2-3 tablespoons of water
1. Put 1&1/2 cup of water to boil in a small pot. Add a little EV Olive oil. Add rinsed lentils, salt to taste. Cover and let simmer approximately 20-22 minutes from when the water starts boiling, then turn off the flame and let the lentils cool down.
2. Turn on the oven at 380F convection. Rinse the Butternut Noodles, put them in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper and EVOO. Mix gently. Spread them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper, so that they lay in one layer. Bake for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and let them there for 10 more minutes: they will dehydrate a bit more and become sweeter and chewy.
3. Rinse the sweet peppers, cut them in 2 lengthwise. Remove the seeds. Cut in thinner, longer strips. Chop roughly the onion. In a small non-stick pan, sauté the onion with a little oil until translucent. Add the cut peppers, add a couple of tablespoons of water, salt and pepper, cover tightly and let simmer for 10 minutes or until tender. Remove the lid, and sauté until they get some color.
4. Put the rinsed and patted dry salmon in a small bowl, upper side facing down. Squeeze the orange juice, and pour over the salmon; add salt and pepper, let marinate 10-15 minutes. Turn on the grill and let it get very hot. Put a sheet of nonstick aluminum paper on the grill.
5. Remove salmon from marinade; pour a few drops of the marinade on the honey in a small bowl until the honey is dissolved. With a brush, paint both sides of the patted dry salmon. Dispose of the marinade. Put the salmon on the grill, upper side looking down first. Let it cook for 5 minutes, without moving around or touching, or until clear grill marks are visible on the bottom. At this point, it should be easy to flip the salmon with the help of a spatula. Let it cook for 2-3 more minutes. Salmon should be slightly undercooked, as it keeps cooking even while cooling down. Remove from the grill and tent with aluminum paper.
6. Assemble the food, preferably on a hot plate; drain lentils from cooking water and dispose a couple of tablespoons in the center. Add the salmon on top of the lentils, the butternut squash on top of the salmon, and finally the mini peppers on one side. Squeeze some fresh lemon or orange juice on top.
A Few Notes:
- You can make your own butternut squash noodles if you have a spiralizer. With the hand-held spiralizer it is very hard, much better with the spiralizer attachment of the food processor.
- If you want to prepare this dish ahead, make sure you undercook the salmon; reserve the salmon in an oven proof dish in the fridge if for more than an hour; before consuming the fish finish cooking it in a 360F hot oven for 8-9 minutes, depending on the initial temperature of the half-cooked salmon (if it was in the refrigerator you need to add 5 more minutes, i.e. 12-13 minutes total).
- I personally like to drizzle some more EV Olive Oil on top. Olive Oil is my preferred natural health supplement and I add it as often as possible.
Elisabetta Ciardullo is the founder of Think Italian! Events. As Personal Chef she is an ambassador of the Italian cuisine and culture, bringing it into the private homes of Americans, as well as to many corporate clients in Los Angeles.