Inspired by Omaha at Society 1854

One of Omaha’s newest restaurants, Society 1854, located in the new Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District ( serves up an array of dishes inspired by the city. With a focus on regional ingredients, the restaurant takes a modern twist on classic American cuisine.

As the holidays approach, the region’s staple ingredients are being showcased in exciting ways. At Society 1854, the culinary team, led by Executive Chef Brent Hockenberry, creates thoughtful, intricate dishes using ingredients from local farmers and producers, including Plum Creek Farms, Truebridge Foods, Squeaky Green Organics, Imperial Wagyu Beef, Le Quartier and more. This fall’s menu features dishes such as seared salmon with green beans, almond, shallot cream and radish citrus salad ($25); a 6 oz. Wagyu Imperial filet with béarnaise ($40); a baked ratatouille pastry appetizer with cipollini onion-tomato jam, arugula and goat cheese ($13); and, sides like bourbon braised kale ($8), crispy fingerling potatoes ($7) and Butcher’s baked beans ($8).

“Our commitment to farm-to-table style preparations can be seen in every dish we create at Society 1854. We take great pride in working with local farmers, butchers, creameries and brewers to bring our guests a powerful culinary experience,” said Hockenberry.

To highlight the season’s best ingredients, sous chef, Jon Seymour, who has been working in Omaha’s culinary world for many years, developed the following recipe for readers to try at their next autumnal dinner party. Note: the pickled green tomatoes and granola can be made in advance to save time cooking day-of. Home cooks can also substitute homemade granola for store bought.

Seared salmon with French green lentils, pickled green tomatoes, autumn herbs, granola:

Prepare the Pan-seared Salmon:

  • Four 6 oz. salmon filets, skin removed
  • 2 oz. of grapeseed or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Bay leaf (one for each filet)
  • Thyme sprig (two for each filet)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Ground white pepper or grains of paradise, to taste

Season the salmon filets with the salt and pepper and let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Heat a large nonstick skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and warm until it moves in the pan like water. Add the salmon and sear for about 1 minute. Add the butter and herbs, taking care, the thyme will pop. Using a deep-welled spoon, carefully baste the fat over the salmon filets.  Let them cook for about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the fillets over and continue to baste and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the desired level of doneness. Reserve on a resting rack in a warm spot until plating.

Cook the French Lentils:

  • 1 cup of dried French green or black lentils
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 20-30 oz. of chicken stock or water
  • 1 Tbsp. minced shallot
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a 3-quart sauce pan. Add the lentils and cook over medium heat until they turn lightly browned and take on an aromatic nuttiness. Add 1 Tbsp. of the butter, and the garlic and shallots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until translucent. Add the bay leaf, and 20 oz. of the stock (or water). Cover with a lid and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent scorching. Add more chicken stock if needed. Once the lentils are softened, add the remaining butter, and season with the salt and pepper. Remove pot from heat and set aside, until plating. Any excess can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Make Pickled Green Tomatoes:

  • 2 cups of unripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of sugar or honey
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Rosemary, 1 sprig
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. mustard powder
  • 1 star anise or 2 cloves

Cut the tomatoes in half and reserve in a large metal container. Heat the remaining ingredients in a medium pot until boiling. Cool slightly and then pour over the tomatoes. Using a plate or solid, food-safe item, weigh the tomatoes down so they are submerged in the liquid. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before placing in an air-tight container and refrigerating. Keep cold until plating. Note: Make these the week prior to save time (they last in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Home-made Granola:

  • ½ cup of thick rolled oats
  • ¼ cup of nuts (pistachio, almond, etc.)
  • 3 Tbsp. flax seed
  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup of grapeseed or canola oil
  • ⅛ tsp. kosher salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Roast for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool to room temperature and then pack into an air-tight container. Note: Make this ahead of time. Granola keeps for up to five days.

To plate your decadent meal…

  • 4 portions of cooked salmon
  • 1 ½ cups of warmed cooked lentils
  • ½ cup of pickled tomatoes
  • ½ cup – granola
  • 4 Tbsp. of autumn herbs (i.e., thyme, rosemary, savory, oregano, mustard greens)

Place a large spoonful of the lentils in the center of the plate. Place the salmon filet next to the lentils. Top the fish with a spoonful of the pickled tomatoes. Scatter the granola and herbs over everything.