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Ask a Chef reveals the secrets of those superb dishes you ate in cafes and restaurants and wanted to try yourself.
Francesca's Baked Salmon and Lentil Ragu
For the ragu
2 onions, chopped
4 celery stalks finely chopped
½ cup basil (leaves and stalks), chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup red wine
½ Tbsp chilli flakes
2 handfuls pitted Kalamata olives
2 cans peeled and chopped tomatoes
750ml vege stock
250g puy lentils
For the salmon
6 180g fillets of de-boned salmon
Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and the onion, celery, basil and garlic. Stir frequently for 10-15 minutes until soft. Add the chilli flakes and cook for about 1 minute.
Add the wine and bring to the boil over medium heat and reduce by half then add the tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil and season well with salt and pepper. Add the lentils and stir.
Reduce to a low heat and stir occasionally, cook for about an hour or until the sauce is thick and the lentils tender.
Portion the ragu into individual, oven proof, serving dishes.
For the salmon
Preheat the oven to 200degC.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and sear the salmon fillets on each side until coloured. Top each dish of lentils with a salmon fillet and bake for around 10 minutes or until cooked, depending on the size of your fillets.
Dress with gremolata (chopped parsley, garlic, lemon and EVOO) and shaved fennel. Finish with a squeeze of lemon and some soft herbs such as parsley, fennel fronds or chervil.
Recipe requested by Jacqueline Slavich. Recipe provided by Francesca's of Wanaka.
If you have enjoyed a dish in an Otago cafe or restaurant and would like the recipe, write to Ask a Chef, Features, Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, Dunedin, fax 474-7422, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, including your name, address and a daytime telephone number, and we will request it.