Salmon with Red Lentil Puree, Pickled Cucumber and Beetroot

This is my latest recipe for Freshly Blogged - a celebration of salmon. I made two dishes - I'll share the other with you next week. We were given lentils to use - which fall into my 'least loved' category of ingredients. It was a challenge in itself to turn them into something I'd like to eat - but, I believe I succeeded. The lovely man and I mopped up every spare piece of puree with our salmon - delicately flavoured with paprika, butter and a little cream cheese.

It's a great dish for entertaining, as most of the aspects of the dish can be made in advance - no last minute running around in the kitchen. The theme was fine dining - but I wanted to keep it accessible - as food is meant to be shared, loved, enjoyed and not intimidating, so I served it on a wooden board on a bed of beetroot leaves.

For the red lentil puree
½ cup red lentils
1L water
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cream cheese
salt to taste

For the pickled cucumber
1/2 a cucumber
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
fresh dill
For the puff pastry
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

For the beetroot cubes
1 small raw beetroot
500ml water

For the salmon
2 pieces lightly smoked salmon
1 tsp olive oil
rinsed beetroot leaves, to serve


For the red lentil puree
Place the lentils in a small saucepan with the water. Allow to boil until the lentils are very tender and fall apart easily.

Drain off the water and pass the lentils through a sieve. Place the strained puree back into the pot with the cream cheese, paprika and salt to taste. Stir on a low heat until the cream cheese has melted into the lentils.
For the pickled cucumber
Slice the cucumber into long strips with a potato peeler. Place in a bowl with the vinegar, sugar and dill. Stir until the cucumber strands are well coated in the vinegar and sugar liquid. Allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before serving.
For the puff pastry
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Cut rectangles of puff pastry slightly bigger than each piece of salmon (allowing for a 1cm margin on all sides). Place on a baking tray and brush the top of each piece of pastry with the beaten egg. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden.

For the beetroot cubes
Place the beetroot in a small saucepan with the water and salt. Allow to come to the boil. Simmer until the beetroot is tender, but not falling apart when pierced with a knife.

Allow to cool to room temperature before slicing in 5mm slices. Cut each slice into 5m cubes and set aside until ready to use.

For the salmon
Place a frying pan on a high heat. Add the olive oil, then the salmon - skin side down. Fry for approximately 2 minutes, until the skin starts to crisp and go brown in places. Turn the salmon over and fry for just over a minute on the flesh side. Remove from the pan.
To serve : place the beetroot leaves on a serving plate (if using). 
Place a sheet of puff pastry on top. Smear a generous tablespoon of lentil puree on each slice of puff pastry and place the piece of salmon on top - skin side up. Place a few cucumber ribbons (drained of their pickling liquid) on top of the salmon, with the beetroot cubes scattered on top. Serve immediately.



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