When I want a healthful, no-cook meal, which is most of the time throughout the summer, I often reach for a jar of good Italian tuna in olive oil to flake over whatever I picked up at the farmers market that week.
This time, looking to shake things up, I remembered another delectable ready-to-eat fish option – smoked trout, typically found in the grocery store next to smoked fish such as whitefish and salmon, any of which would work beautifully in this recipe.
Here, the silky, flaky trout is piled onto a salad of crisp, thinly sliced fennel tossed with tender lentils, which give the dish a hearty underpinning and contrasting textures. In my quest to stay away from any heat source, I took advantage of canned lentils, but until I purposefully sought them out, I hadn’t realized lentils even came in cans.
And yet, there they were, right on the shelf with other pulses, as convenient as can be for pulling this dish together. Alternatively, you could certainly cook them yourself from dried.
The salad is dressed in a bracing, shallot-spiked mustard vinaigrette and garnished with dill fronds and lemon wedges for an elegant main course that answers the call for something deliciously different with no cooking required.
Fennel, Lentil and Smoked Trout Salad
2 large fennel bulbs (about 1 pound total)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot (½ medium)
1¼ cups cooked brown, green or black lentils (from one 15-ounce can, rinsed until the water runs clear and drained, or cooked from dry)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill, plus more dill fronds for garnish
1 cup flaked, skinless, smoked trout or whitefish
4 lemon wedges, for serving
Trim the tops off the fennel bulbs and discard them or reserve them for another use. Quarter the bulbs lengthwise and remove and discard the tough outer layer and the cores. Thinly slice the remaining fennel. You should have about 3 cups.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper until incorporated. Stir in the shallot. Add the sliced fennel and the lentils to the bowl and toss to coat. Stir in the chopped dill. Taste, and season with more lemon juice, mustard, salt and/or pepper, if desired.
To serve, divide the salad among 4 serving plates. Place ¼ cup of the smoked fish on top of each, then garnish with dill fronds and a lemon wedge.
Yield: 4 servings
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