Feed your gut bacteria with a healthy lentil and salmon dinner

Food guru Tim Spector shares one of his favourite recipes Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth

I love this recipe because it features a wide range of healthy plant ingredients and is quick to prepare. The onions, garlic, spinach and lentils provide plenty of fibre for our gut microbes, and the red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, tomatoes and spices give us extra polyphenols  (powerful antioxidant chemicals).

You’ll get protein from the lentils, and extra protein and healthy fats from the salmon. Plus, this recipe results in great chemical reactions — caramelizing the onions and browning the fish boosts flavour and aroma molecules.

Tim Spector, author of The Diet Myth, is featured in Food for Thought, a documentary from The Nature of Things.

Serves 2.


Extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar
1 white onion or shallot
1 garlic clove, crushed
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ bullion cube of vegetable stock
1 can red or yellow lentils, drained
Smoked paprika, to taste
Ground sumac, to taste
Turmeric powder, to taste
A couple of large handfuls of baby-leaf spinach, washed
2 small salmon fillets
Salt and pepper, to taste
Small bunch fresh parsley, chopped


Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).

In a small pan medium over heat, add red onion and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar to the pan. Turn up the heat and add sugar and a teaspoon of water. Stir and cook for 1–2 min, then set onions aside.

In a larger, deeper pan medium heat, add white onion or shallot and a splash of extra-virgin olive oil. Cook until soft, about 4–5 minutes.

Add garlic, cherry tomatoes and spices to the pan. Stir for 1 minute, then add bullion cube, 200 ml of water and lentils. Stir and cook for 2 minutes.

Add spinach to the pan and cook until soft, about 2–3 minutes.

Add reserved caramelized onions to the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Remove pan from heat, cover and set aside.

In a separate pan over high heat, sear salmon fillets, skin-side down, in a splash of extra-virgin olive oil for 1 minute.

Transfer salmon to a baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes.
*Health Canada recommends cooking fish to a temperature of 70°C.

Assemble by dividing lentil mixture between two plates, topping with salmon, skin-side up, and drizzling with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Available on CBC Gem

The Nature of Things: Food for Thought

Nature of Things