Ina Garten’s Salmon With Lentils Is a Perfect Light and Healthy Barefoot Contessa Summer Meal

Ina Garten uses a foolproof cooking technique for perfect salmon that takes just minutes, then pairs it with delicious savory lentils for an amazing summer meal. The Barefoot Contessa star shared some of her tips and tricks for the easy dish.

Ina Garten poses with one of her cookbooks in 2018
Ina Garten | Noam Galai/Getty Images for NYCWFF

How to make Ina Garten’s salmon with lentils recipe

While demonstrating how to make her salmon with lentils recipe on the Barefoot Contessa cooking show, Garten first explained that this dish can be scaled to feed a crowd or makes a perfect dinner for two.

“Salmon with lentils — it’s a great party dish because you can make it in huge quantities but for two, it’s also perfect,” she explained.

Garten first poured boiling water over the lentils in a bowl, setting them aside for 10 minutes to soften. While they soaked, she heated olive oil in a pan over medium heat and cooked the onions, leeks, thyme, salt, and pepper for 10 minutes. She added garlic and cooked it for another couple of minutes, then added the carrots and celery.

Garten explained that onions and leeks are “pretty much in the same family but the leeks are a little more delicate than the onions. They’re great together.”

The Barefoot Contessa star shared how the easy vegetable mixture “is really chunky” and has “lots of flavor — and the lentils are just part of it.”

She added chicken stock, tomato paste, and the lentils to the mixture and cooked it for 20 minutes.

Ina Garten shares her trick for perfectly cooked salmon

Garten shared her trick for perfectly cooked salmon and it’s so easy. “The key to the salmon is to just sear the outside so you make a really crisp crust and then it seals in all the flavor,” she explained.

She rubbed the salmon fillets with olive oil and added salt and pepper to one side. “This is really the only seasoning so you want to make sure you season it really well,” she noted.

She added the salmon to a really hot pan with the seasoned side down. “And just leave it,” she noted. “I know it’s really tempting to move it around but you want to create a really great crust.”

Garten cooked the salmon for two minutes, flipped it, then roasted it in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for 5 to 7 minutes. “And it’ll be perfect,” she assured. “Sort of crusty on the outside and tender inside.”

“This is how they cook it in restaurants and it comes out perfectly,” she added.

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Garten gives the flavor a boost in the final moments

Once the salmon was cooked, Garten finished the lentils with a bit of red wine vinegar, which she said “sort of perks up the flavor a lot.”

“The sweetness of the red wine vinegar and the carrots and lentils — it’s going to be great with the salmon,” she added.

Garten said the dish is “good hot but it’s also good room temperature” so it’s definitely versatile and can be made in advance.

You can find the full recipe on the Food Network website.