Skip to main content
08 Jun 2023

Irini Tzortzoglou’s rice, lentils and caramelised onions with pan-fried salmon and herb yoghurt sauce

Irini Tzortzoglou’s rice, lentils and caramelised onions with pan-fried salmon and herb yoghurt sauce

This dish is a great standalone meal as lentils, being rich in protein, are a good alternative to meat.  Adding the salmon adds makes it a more complete and fulfilling dish but the lentil base is equally delicious on its own and works as a vegetarian dish in its own right. You could also replace the salmon with trout, which contains less saturated fat, or tinned tuna. 

The recipe has been written for canned lentils, but I'd strongly recommend you buy dried brown or green lentils and cook them yourself — see below for instructions. 

This is a quick, cheat kind of recipe as it uses tinned lentils, meaning cooking time is reduced greatly.  The whole meal doesn't need to take you more than 15 minutes in total as you can cook the salmon and the onions while cooking the rice. As most packaged salmon comes in two fillets, this recipe has been designed to make two meals.  

Serves: 2 
Takes: 20 mins 


100g basmati rice 
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
1 medium/large white onion, peeled and finely sliced 
a few thyme leaves or pinch of dried thyme 
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
2 salmon fillets, around 135g each
2 tbsp yoghurt 
squeeze of lemon juice 
2 tbsp finely chopped herbs (parsley, coriander, dill, etc) 
1 tin of lentils


  1. Rinse the rice in a small colander, then tip into a small saucepan with a lid. Add 150ml water and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Bring the rice to the boil on a medium heat. Once you see bubbles on the surface, cover with the lid, reduce the heat to low and leave to cook for 10 mins. Take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for another few minutes, then uncover and use a fork to fluff up the rice.

  2. While the rice is cooking, put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan with a lid and bring to a medium heat.  Add the onion and stir to coat with the olive oil. Add the thyme, stir, cover and lower the heat. Leave the onion to cook until it caramelises. Finally, add the balsamic vinegar and give it a good stir. 

  3. While the onion is cooking, rinse the salmon fillets and pat dry. Season with some salt and pepper.  Bring a frying pan to a medium heat, add a couple of tbsp of olive oil and when the oil is smoking, place the salmon fillets in the pan skin side down and hold with your fingers for a few seconds to keep them flat. Cook the salmon for 3-5 minutes depending on their thickness. They should still be a little pink in the middle.   

  4. In a small bowl, mix the yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice, the remaining olive oil, a pinch of salt and a little pepper and half the chopped herbs. Stir to mix. 

  5. Drain the can of lentils in a colander and add them to the saucepan with the onions. Add the cooked rice, too, season with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining herbs. Spoon onto a plate and shred the salmon over it. Top with a spoonful of the yoghurt sauce.   

Cooking lentils from scratch
250g of dried brown lentils makes enough for two meals and even perhaps three if adding more ingredients to the lentils in the form of salad or soup.

  • Put 250g dried lentils in a pan and add 1 litre of water. Bring to the boil. Drain the lentils and put back into the pan with a fresh litre of water. Add 1 bay leaf and 1 clove of garlic and cook until soft — around 15-25 mins, depending on their size. The lentils should absorb all the water. Season with salt and pepper and put in an airtight container if not using immediately and transfer to the fridge. Use them in salads or vegetable soup, adding 2-3 tbsp of the cooked lentils 5 mins before the end of cooking time.   

Follow us on Instagram