Move Over Posh - Here Comes Smoky Spice

One of my favorite spices is Spanish smoked paprika, known in Spain as pimentón.

There are both hot and sweet versions, and I find them both indispensable for adding flavor.

I started using them decades ago to replace liquid smoke in recipes. I have no idea if liquid smoke is bad for you or not (some articles suggest it is, while others say it’s fine), but I find it vaguely creepy.

Pimentón, in addition to its smoky essence, imparts the rich flavor and color of capsicum peppers. A bonus, right?

Today’s Salmon recipe came to me from an acquaintance, who said she was passing it along from another source, the story of so many wonderful recipes. I assume it is from a magazine but I am not sure.

The accompanying lentil recipe is one I made up, but I am sure someone - somewhere - has come up with the same concoction. It’s lentils, after all, not rocket science.

This is a great meal to throw together when you get home after work, want something really flavorful, and don’t want to spend hours making it.

My modus operandi is to set the fish marinating, then change into my pajamas, find some wine to pour, prep the lentils and spice mixture, and prepare for dinner (and a movie), all in about 15 minutes,

I have it down to an art. It’s a beautiful thing.

~ David (a.k.a. Smoky Spice)

Smoky Cinnamon Salmon with Mushroom Lentils

1 large organic orange
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, divided
4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin removed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt
mushroom lentils, for serving (recipe follows)

Finely grate zest from the orange and set aside. Juice the orange and measure ¼ cup of juice and set aside. Reserve remaining juice for another purpose.

Mix orange juice, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of the thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in large glass dish and add marinade. Turn to coat well. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Mix sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, remaining teaspoon thyme, and sea salt in a small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade. Place on greased foil-lined baking pan. Rub tops of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture. Discard the marinade.

Roast salmon in preheated 400°F oven for 12-13 (10-11 minutes if wild salmon) minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. For thin filets, reduce cooking time.

While salmon is roasting, make the lentils (recipe follows).

Divide the lentils among four dinner plates and top with the roasted salmon.

Makes 4 servings.

Mushroom Lentils

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 large cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used Trader Joe’s)
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and sauté the carrot, celery, and shallot until clear and softened a little. Add the sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté until they have released their liquid and are beginning to brown. Add the thyme, and cook another minute.

Add the lentils, broth, and wine, then season with salt and pepper. Cook at a brisk simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated. 

Serves 4.

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