There’s something so tactile and satisfying about dinner in a bowl.. a meal like this Salmon Bowl with Kale and Lentils that you can cradle in your hands and eat cross-legged on the couch. It’s also incredibly healthy and cost effective, so let’s hear it for more dinners in bowls in 2016!
Plates are basically a Western idea, and not a very practical one at that. The other half of the world has been hip to the benefits of bowls forever and it’s time we caught up. In a bowl everything mingles together and there’s a wonderful sense of equality — flavors get a chance to combine with each other, and hunks of meat can’t lord it over the veggies. Bowls have a built in portion control too. But if you’ve never fully embraced the concept you might be a little confused as to how to put one together. Don’t worry, it’s easy, and since we’re not going for any particular culinary tradition here, there’s a lot of flexibility in what you put inside. There are a few layers to this dish, but they can all be made ahead and assembled multiple times and in multiple ways, so it’s a versatile little idea. In the dead of summer you can eat everything chilled, but right now I like to serve the lentils warm and the salmon hot off the grill. The warmth does wonderful things to the kale, and all the flavors and aromas really pop.
I set out to fill this bowl with the healthiest components I could think of. I’ve recently crossed over to the wild side when it comes to salmon. I don’t buy anything else anymore, even though it means spending more money. I just adjust by using smaller portions, and a bowl like this is perfect for making a small amount of really great fish go a long way.
I’m also a fairly recent convert to kale. It’s becoming a big favorite of mine, both cooked and raw. The secret to using raw kale in salad is, if you ask, me, just to shred it finely, and make sure to dress it lightly ahead of time so that it has a chance to absorb the flavors and soften just a bit. No massaging, promise.
The rest of the ingredients work really well to hit all your taste buds. I like sunflower seeds and pistachios for crunch, and some dried cranberries for chewy sweetness. The little French lentils are tender but still firm, and super satisfying.
- one bunch of kale
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pistachios, rough chopped
- 6 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp of your favorite vinegar, I used fig vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup French lentils
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1 lb wild salmon fillet
- more olive oil for brushing
- salt and pepper
- thinly sliced green onions
- Rinse your kale well in cold water. Shake it dry and then dry it with a clean towel. Remove the tough spines from each leaf.
- Pile the leaves on top of each other and use a sharp knife to slice it as finely as you can. Put it in a large bowl, you'll need about a handful of greens for each serving.
- Toss the kale with the sunflower seeds, cranberries, and pistachios.
- Whisk the oil and vinegar together, and season with the salt and pepper. Drizzle enough on the kale to moisten it all, and toss. Refrigerate.
- Cook the lentils in vegetable or chicken broth, according to the package instructions.
- Meanwhile heat a grill pan over medium high hear until very hot.
- Brush the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill for several minutes on each side, just until barely done in the center. The time will vary according to how thick your fish is.
- Brush the yellow pepper with oil and put it in the grill as well, turning it to get charred on all sides.
- Slice the salmon into four pieces. Halve the pepper, remove the ribs and seeds, and slice into thin strips.
- Put a handful of the kale salad into each of four bowls. Add a good amount of the warm lentils on top. Arrange the salmon, pepper strips, and red onions around the top.
- Garnish with green onions.
- You’ll find several types of kale at your supermarket, and I used two of them in this recipe. There’s curly kale, which comes green, and also in red, or purple. And then there’s lacinato kale, which is straighter and has a nubbly, bumpy texture. It’s usually very deep green, almost black. Either variety will work, but the key is to get it very finely shredded, and hit it with a bit of dressing about an hour or two beforehand so it gets a chance to soften.
- Some lentils turn to mush when they’re cooked, which is fine for some dishes, but I like to buy French Puy lentils because they stay firm. Avoid the red or yellow lentils for this bowl.
- You may want to take a hint from food stylists and save out a little bit of some of the ingredients to scatter over the top of the bowl just before serving. I like to do this with the cranberries, pistachios and sunflower seeds. Make sure some of the lentils are showing, too.
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