Karen Martini's smoked trout, potato and lentil salad

This lentil salad works as a base for many proteins.
This lentil salad works as a base for many proteins. Photo: William Meppem

This is a fine little starter – the peppery horseradish is the perfect kick for the earthy lentils and smoked fish. You could also swap the trout for smoked eel, smoked salmon, grilled chipolata sausages or grilled slices of cotechino.

Ingredients

200g puy lentils

1 bay leaf

6 small chat or kipfler potatoes

40ml extra virgin olive oil

4 French shallots, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 celery heart, very finely sliced

4 dill sprigs, fronds chopped

2 handfuls of flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

300g hot smoked trout fillet, bones removed, flesh flaked and seasoned

2 cups of watercress sprigs, picked and rinsed

Vinaigrette

100ml extra virgin olive oil

60ml sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

2 tsp Dijon mustard

Horseradish cream dressing

120ml cream

2½ tbsp freshly grated (or unsweetened preserved) horseradish

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

Method

1. For the vinaigrette, put all the ingredients in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper and combine until emulsified.

2. For the horseradish cream dressing, add all the ingredients to a small bowl, season with saltand combine.

3. Add the lentils to a saucepan of cold water with the bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Cook for 12-15 minutes until tender, then drain.

4. Cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, then drain.

5. Heat half the oil in a medium frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the celery and stir to warm through, then add the warm lentils and dress with the vinaigrette. Stand for 5 minutes, then adjust the seasoning and mix through the herbs.

6. Spoon the lentil mix onto a serving plate. Cut the potatoes in half, dress with the remaining oil and pile on top of the lentils. Scatter the trout and watercress over the top, spoon over the dressing and serve.

Tip: Once the lentils are dressed and tossed with herbs (try tarragon, chives and/or chervil), you can take them in a different direction by skipping the other ingredients and serving them as a side for roast chicken, duck, quail or lamb, or even with seared haloumi or fresh ricotta. I'll also happily eat them with heavily buttered sourdough, or just as they are.