sole with lentils and breadcrumb salad

sole with lentils and breadcrumb salad

Boy, this dinner was a smashing success if I do say so myself. We had been pondering what to do for food one night, and I was idly considering something involving fish, since we were about to go to the grocery store. I opened up a few cookbooks and flipped through their fish sections…many of them too complicated, too weird-sounding, wrong kind of fish…then, in Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, a book I hadn’t yet made a thing out of (but I sure do love the Palace Kitchen and Serious Pie, two of his restaurants), I saw a heading for pan-roasted halibut with herbed lentils and toasted breadcrumb salad.

For some reason, the thought of that just really did it for me, so I headed to the fish case with my eyes peeled for halibut. They had had halibut cheeks a few days previously, but of course they were out – so I ended up getting a few fillets of very fresh, beautiful looking Dover sole.

Because I had such a delicate fish, I ignored the recipe’s instructions for cooking halibut and instead just tossed the fillets in a pan with some butter and pan fried them very lightly. Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, with just a few small adjustments on the fly.

herbed lentils

The Lentils:

The only things I changed here were the cooking time on the lentils, substituting shallot for onion, and leaving out the celery and some additional herbs (he calls for thyme and oregano as well as the sage and rosemary, but I had just cut down my thyme bush the day I made this).

  • 1 cup French lentils, rinsed
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the lentils. Tom says they cook in 12 minutes, but I’ve never known lentils to cook that fast – I think mine took at least 20 minutes. They should be cooked through but still with a bit of bite to them. Drain the lentils and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and saute the garlic, carrot and shallot until soft. Add the lentils, chicken stock and fresh herbs and bring it all to a boil. Add the butter and stir. Salt and pepper to taste.

breadcrumb salad

Toasted Breadcrumb Salad

This stuff was great. I mean, really great. I could eat it like cereal.

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup coarse breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • zest of one small lemon

Heat the olive oil in a small pan and stir in the breadcrumbs. Keep stirring over med-high heat until they are golden and crisp. Let them cool, then toss in a bowl with salt, pepper, parsley and lemon zest. Right before using, drizzle with half a recipe’s worth of lemon vinaigrette.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • juice of the lemon you zested
  • a couple tablespoons of olive oil
  • coarse salt

Combine the juice, oil and salt (Tom says to add shallot to this as well, but it frankly didn’t seem necessary). Whisk it together and pour part of it over the breadcrumb salad and part over your cooked fish.

Part of the fun was building the plates: a pool of herby, buttery lentils, the fish sitting on top with a drizzle of vinaigrette, steamed asparagus on the side, then an airy mound of the breadcrumb salad sitting on top. As we ate, the lemony breadcrumbs mixed with everything. The textures were a lovely mix of crisp, soft, soupy and firm.

nice rose wine

We fussed for a while over our wine selection. Tom Douglas recommends a New Zealand sauvignon blanc with this dish, which we happened to be fresh out of. We almost went with a Washington viognier, but then we remembered a coastal California sangiovese rosé that we were given recently. The copy on the label was very peculiar, but the wine was delicious – just crisp and acidic enough to cut through the buttery lentils, and holding up well to the lemon in the dish.


4 thoughts on “sole with lentils and breadcrumb salad

  1. I made this last week for my boyfriend and a friend and it will go in my recipe binder with favorite recipes!
    I also used onion instead of shalot and I did add celery. I didn’t have sage so I used rosemary, oregano and thyme. I didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried (so I used less than in the recipe).
    It’s a keeper!

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