When my kids were young, I used to make a dinner called Salmon Supper in a Spud. Sounds like a kid-perfect meal, but if I remember correctly none of them liked it much. I did, though, and ever since I’ve loved the combination of salmon and potato baked with something tangy (back then it was mayonnaise). Fast forward to the present, and I’ve updated this meal to be healthier and tastier, not to mention more chic in its presentation.
Back in my early salmon supper days I quickly determined that hollowing out baked potatoes and then stuffing them with the potato-salmon mixture was just too fussy most of the time. I started baking the dish in a casserole instead. And that’s what you can do with this recipe if making cakes seems like too much time or trouble. How’s that for kitchen ingenuity?
If you’ve been following my blog, you’re likely aware of my fondness for lentils. These adorably shaped nutritional powerhouses can be the star of a dish, or play a supporting role. In the case of these cakes, I used beluga lentils because I had them on hand, although any green or brown lentil would also add toothsome handsomeness. I love the way the black orbs contrast with the creamy potato and orange salmon.
Mashed potatoes provide the base, salmon the main flavouring, and onion, chives and garlic add aromatic notes. Instead of mayonnaise, it’s Greek yogourt that lends tangy creaminess. Shaped into cakes, brushed with olive oil and baked in the oven, the finished cakes have a crispy browned exterior.
The finished product is rustically elegant (sounds like a contradiction in terms, but I’m sticking with it), satisfying and complex in flavour. Served with a simple salad, these Salmon, Potato and Lentil Cakes are perfect for a light lunch or dinner. A couple of cakes half the size of these on a simple bed of lightly dressed greens would make a striking appetizer, and mini cakes would make great finger food at a cocktail party or other gathering. However you serve them, you’ll enjoy them!
Salmon, Potato and Lentil Cakes
Pre-heat oven to 375º. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Makes a baker’s dozen (13) of cakes. You can use grilled salmon instead of canned; just see the note below. Also, it’s not necessary to start with dried lentils. If you choose canned, buy the smaller sized can, rinse and drain well before using.
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes
- 1/2 cup reserved potato cooking water (this may or may not be needed)
- 1/2 cup beluga lentils (1-1/4 cup after cooking)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1-1/2 tbsp finely chopped chives
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 213 gram can sockeye salmon*, including juices (remove bones)
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogourt
- 2 tbsp olive oil, for brushing on the cakes
- * Note: you can substitute fresh salmon that has been grilled and flaked for the canned salmon. In this case you’ll need to add a couple of tablespoons or so of potato water to the potato mixture.
Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks. Wash, then put in a pot with cold water to cover by about an inch. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to a rolling simmer and cook until tender. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Mash the potatoes until somewhat smooth.
If using dried lentils, pick them over, rinse and put in a pot with about an inch of water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cook until tender but with some bite to them (al dente). Drain off any remaining liquid.
Add the onion, chives, garlic, pepper and salt to the potato and stir well. Add the sockeye salmon and juices (see Note, above), as well as the lentils, and fold in gently. If the mixture seems too stiff, add a tablespoon or two of the potato water, but this may not be necessary. You don’t want it too soft, or it will be more challenging to form the cakes.
Taste the mixture and add more pepper or salt if needed to suit your taste.
Use a large ice cream scoop to evenly measure out the mixture. Shape each into a cake about 3/4 inch thick. Brush the top of the patty in your hand with olive oil, and place oiled side down several inches apart on the baking sheets as the cakes will spread somewhat. Brush more olive oil on the tops and sides of the cakes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The tops of the cakes will still be fairly light in colour, but the undersides will be crisply caramelized, so serve bottom side up.
Leftover cakes can be refrigerated or frozen, and reheated on both sides in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.
(If you’re making a casserole, just put the potato, salmon and lentil mixture in a lightly oiled baking dish, and bake until it’s puffed up and heated through (this will take longer than the cakes, probably at least 40 minutes in total).