After a day of way too much strawberry ice cream I needed a meal that was ridiculously, obviously healthy; there is no way this salad could be misconstrued as anything but colourfully nutritious. I have cucumber, radishes, strawberries, yellow sweet peppers, grated carrot, avocado, romaine lettuce, edamame, parsley, pepitas, chia seeds, and black sesame seeds. I made a salad dressing out of dark sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, minced garlic, 1 tsp. brown sugar, and grated ginger (basically, raiding my pantry for ingredients that would work well together). I dressed the salad and let it sit for about 10 minutes to get the crunch out of the chia seeds and because, well, I just happen to like my salad on the soggier side.
Simplicity is very important to me when it comes to workday dinners and lunches; while I will always have a soft place in my heart for recipes requiring patience and intricacy I am rarely in the mood to even consider them as dinner contenders after a long day of cheese selling. A meal such as this roasted tomato and Puy lentil salad is quintessentially easy; it’s very hands-off in terms of preparation, it tastes of caramelized summer tomato sweetness (whether you have summer tomatoes or not) and it keeps for up to 3 days in your fridge. The Puy lentils are a speckled sea stone grey backdrop for glowing Campari tomatoes that have been roasted until brightly sweet. Campari tomatoes retain their shape better than other varieties I have experimented with although grape tomatoes become deliciously chewy due to their low moisture content. The flat-leafed parlsey is haphazardly cut into the mixture with scissors, creating bursts of roughly shredded spring green with minimal effort while adding a fragrant and clean foil for the roasted Campari tomatoes. This salad can be enjoyed at room temperature or chilled, I especially like devouring a large bowl of it with a glass of well chilled Beaujolais and some strawberries.
roasted tomato and puy lentil salad:
1 cup of dried Puy lentils
7-10 Campari tomatoes, cut in half
An intensely green and fruity olive oil for drizzling
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, cut into smallish bits with scissors
2 shallots, cut into thin half moons
2 lemons, juiced
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Boil the lentils in salted water and begin checking for doneness after 15 minutes, they should be done at this point or may need another 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to stop any additional cooking from residual heat. Allow to drain completely.
2. While the lentils are cooking arrange the tomatoes on a baking tray cut side up on parchment or foil. For the roasting part of this recipe the oil doesn’t have to be the fruity olive oil, you can use a lighter olive oil or canola oil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, the salt will help draw the liquid out of the tomatoes. Roast for 30-40 minutes, you want the tomatoes to be slightly caramelized when they come out of the oven to ensure maximum tomato sweetness in the salad. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
3. When the tomatoes are cooled combine in whole pieces with the Puy lentils, shallots, parsley, lemon juice, the extra green olive oil and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve at either room temperature or chilled for lunch or a light dinner with a cold glass of sweetish red wine and fruit.
Perfect accompaniment: bright and beautiful.
Bibio – Saint Christopher
Ease of transportation: the deciding factor in my culinary choices lately. I can truthfully testify that this salad is good on a sandy Lake Huron beach with pane glass water and a sunset, on the couch watching The West Wing with your best friend, at the break table on your lunch on a Wednesday at work, and under a tree at Kits Beach reading a Sherlock Holmes anthology. The original recipe was posted on the Vancouver based blog Sweet on Veg, I have since made a few alterations but this is always the case with anything I’m cooking. I have added grape tomatoes, a jalapeño pepper, lime juice, and some fresh parsley; this is a very forgiving recipe and I’ve seen recipes where people add cumin, fresh ginger, and orange juice so I would encourage further experimentation after you make it for the first time. I like it cold but it’s also excellent at room temperature; either way, the quinoa needs to be cooled down completely and fluffed with a fork before adding the rest of the ingredients or the dressing won’t absorb properly. In addition, the mango used shouldn’t be so extremely ripe that it’s hard to cut into a somewhat fine dice. Mango and Black Bean Quinoa Salad is especially delicious when served with Spicy Tomato Soup, I make the recipe as instructed but I don’t strain it and I serve it chilled with pieces of cucumber as a garnish.
mango and black bean quinoa salad:
1 cup of quinoa
1 not-too-ripe mango, diced into small pieces
1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans (or other small bean)
1 red pepper, diced
About a half a cup of grape tomatoes, halved
1 bunch of scallions, both the white and green part
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced finely
About a cup of cilantro, cut or snipped into small pieces
About a half a cup of flat-leaf parsley, cut or snipped into small pieces
2 Tbsp. of vegetable oil
3-4 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar
The juice of 1 lime
Salt, to taste
1. In a lidded pot bring 2 cups of water to boil, add the quinoa and bring the heat down to low, cover and let steam for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to sit for another 15 minutes, then take off the lid and fluff with a fork. Allow to cool completely. (I sometimes make the quinoa the night before or in the morning and then use it for the salad at dinner time.)
2. Combine all of the fruits and vegetables in a large salad bowl and add the cooled quinoa, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, and salt to taste. Stir gently and serve for any portable lunches you plan on consuming in the next week.
This is one magical song performed by one magical band. I know the word magical is funny as a descriptor but I honestly believe that Sigur Rós deserves the title. This song makes me want to go to the Yukon and see the Northern Lights, it makes me think of cobalt 5:30 AM snow, and of driving to the airport watching the neon sun rise over a grey horizon. I’ve been feeling so inspired and happy this past month and thus my music choices have taken on corresponding sentiments.
Sigur Rós – Myrkur
At the beginning of January I have usually reached my limit of culinary hedonism and alcohol-fuelled Tuesday mornings (only in December do I find rye and gingers to be a perfectly acceptable breakfast food). While I thoroughly enjoy eating my own body weight in eggs Benedict and caramel croissant pudding I am now at the point where I’m beginning to feel revoltingly sluggish and disinclined to do much more than lay around on my couch watching all three Mission Impossible movies. So tonight I thought I would compose a salad (composing sounds so musical compared to “throwing it all together”) using the most colourful vegetables I could find. The brighter the vegetable the more nutritious I feel it must be, therefore making me feel instantly brighter (the placebo effect is not lost on me) even though I am still stuck languishing on the couch. I make an improvised dressing with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, some kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, and a good splash of vinegar, in this case a fig flavoured Balsamic vinegar. I always eyeball the amounts and in this case I never pre-mix. I like an extremely tart dressing with an oil to vinegar ratio of 1:3, but you can use any ratio you would like based on your own personal preferences. For a salad like this, especially one that is the focal-point of your meal, I think presentation is important because it makes me crave all of those amazing vegetables instead of a giant piece of cake for dinner. A good rule of thumb to consider is that of contrasting shapes which make the salad more interesting to look at as well as to eat. Seeds, in this case sunflower seeds, offer a nice break in texture as do nuts, dried fruit, cheeses, and beans. If you don’t have a salad-spinner (as I don’t), a good trick is to put your freshly washed greens in a clean pillow case and go out onto your balcony and spin the case around your head. Don’t make the mistake I did and perform this step indoors as everything within a 12-foot radius will be soaked and your boyfriend will wonder loudly what the hell you’re doing.
A Salad for the New Year (or after too many G&T’s in lieu of water) :
For the Salad:
A handful of kale, leaves washed and kept whole
1 cup of spinach, washed and dried
1/2 cucumbers, sliced
3 scallions, sliced diagonally
A handful of grape tomatoes
1/2 a medium-sized beet, julienned
1 carrot, julienned
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. fig flavoured Balsamic vinegar
kosher salt and coarse black pepper, to taste
1. Arrange the vegetables and seeds in a pleasing arrangement; drizzle the oil and vinegar over the salad and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
I make a lot of food bopping around to this song; I love The Feelies and this song in particular always cheers me up about a million per cent. If you’re suffering through dark early January with that awful feeling that you have nothing to look forward to – well, this song is for you.
The Feelies – Sooner or Later