Category: Grains and Legumes

Roasted Carrots with Lentils and Soft Cheese

I made soup last week and bread this week. Fall is definitely here. I’m still not quite ready to go full on “braise” but roasted veggies, especially over something hearty but still healthy… yup, I’m down with that.

I was at Costco last week and bought a “YUGE” bag of carrots for, like, zero dollars and went decidedly French by pairing them with Puy lentils. You guys, if you haven’t added those tiny, green French lentils to your repertoire you are missing out. They are so easy to cook properly if you soak, then steam them (just say no to mushy lentils) and they are delicious warm or cold. Use them as a base for almost any roasted vegetable as I did here, or toss them in a salad. (Or simply season them and add a fried or poached egg on top… oh yes I did!). And they’re healthy. I almost hate to say that because it’s beside the point. They are delicious… just go with that.

This dish is hearty enough for a vegetarian main but it can also be served alongside some protein (or that egg we just discussed). I served mine with a couple pieces of chicken confit I had in the fridge which I simply reheated by adding to the tray of carrots when I removed the tinfoil. Anything to save washing another dish!

1 1/2 cups green French Puy lentils

2-3 pounds of carrots, washed or peeled and halved lengthwise
1 tsp cumin seeds, roughly ground with mortar and pestle
1 tsp coriander seeds, roughly ground with mortar and pestle
1 tsp dried thyme leaves, roughly ground with mortar and pestle
1 tsp kosher salt
Red chili flakes, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
1 whole lemon, peel zested and lemon halved

2 TBS red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp anchovy paste
pinch of salt and few grinds of fresh black pepper
1/3 cup good fruity olive oil

To finish:
fresh chopped basil or other herb of your choice (optional)
1 8-oz ball of fresh mozzarella (optional, but seriously…)

Make dressing by combining all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking until emulsified. Set aside.

Cook lentils to your liking. I soak mine for at least a few hours or overnight, then steam for 15-30 minutes (depending on how long you have soaked) until just tender but not falling apart. Put drained lentils in a larger wide bowl (enough to accommodate the carrots) and stir in 3 TBS of dressing while they are still warm so the lentils absorb the flavour. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine your spices in the bottom of a bowl along with minced garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and lemon zest. Add carrots and toss to coat. Place on oiled cookie sheet along with your zested lemon halves (cut side down) and cover with a piece of tin foil. Roast for 20 minutes. Uncover, toss and roast another 15-25 minutes until carrots are tender and browned in spots. Remove from oven, squeeze over juice from roasted lemon.

Putting it together:

Taste and re-season lentils if necessary (they may need more salt, especially if you skipped the anchovy paste). Tip carrots over lentils and gently toss. Tear fresh mozzarella over the dish and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste. Scatter fresh herbs on top if using and dish up!

Summer Potato Lentil Salad

I just got back from traveling AND EATING for almost a month and am trying to get over jet lag along with a terrible cold I picked up somewhere between Rome and San Sebastian (aka pasta and pintxos heaven). The last couple days of traveling and the flight home socked me good. But I’m still hungry! Have I mentioned before that when I get sick I’m not one of those people who eats a half piece of toast and “can’t eat another bite”? I hate those people. Nope, when I’m sick I NEED ALL THE FOOD!

One night in San Sebastian I had a pintxos (basically a small snack served on a slice of baguette alongside a drink) of a beautifully rare bite of steak sprinkled with salt. Yesterday I was craving that steak but not the heavy potatoes and sour cream that usually accompany it. What did I think about a lightened up potato salad? Salad sounds good. What about adding healthy French lentils to counteract the eating of the last month? I could go for that. And how about elevating it with something punchy like chopped gherkins or pickled onions? Suuuuure! And should I throw in some radishes and peas from the garden? Why not?! Anything else I need to use up? I do have those garlic scapes…

As you can see, I’m simply using what I have on hand. I love to cook this way in the summer. Use the potatoes, lentils and vinaigrette as a base and add whatever is available to you. Little tomatoes would be delicious. Fresh green beans that have been cooked to just tender-crisp. Oooooh, maybe some olives to make it a bit “nicoise-y”. Or some hard-boiled eggs for a more traditional potato salad. Oh, and wouldn’t the salty bite of some goat or sheep feta be lovely??? The world is your oyster (mmmmmmm, oysters). ;)

2 TBS white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp anchovy paste (you know you want to!)
few grinds of fresh black pepper
1/3 cup good fruity olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients and set aside.

1 cup dry French (Puy) lentils
1 lb small new potatoes
handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 chopped sour gherkins and/or sweet pickles (optional)
1/4 cup pickled onions (optional, but HIGHLY recommended)
handful of radishes, washed and sliced (optional)
handful of sugar snap or snow peas, chopped (optional)
Garlic scape, tender bits thinly sliced (optional)

Cook lentils until tender but not mushy, using your favourite method. I soak mine for about 4 hours then steam them until tender… 15-30 minutes depending on how old the lentils are. Drain and turn into a large bowl. Stir in 1 TBS of the vinaigrette to season the lentils. Set aside.

Scrub new potatoes. Leave whole if small or cut in half if larger and cook in simmering water for about 15 minutes until just tender. Drain and cut in half (largish bite-sized pieces). While still warm, place the cut potatoes in the bowl with the lentils. Fold in 3 more TBS of the remaining vinaigrette and let sit so the warm potatoes and lentils absorb more of the dressing. Salad can sit at room temperature for a couple hours.

When you are ready to eat, add the chopped parsley and your other additional ingredients from the options above or your own choices. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and gently stir to combine. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary. We ate this with BBQ steak and grilled asparagus. Sooooo good.

Quick & Dirty: Chickpea Dip

I have been making this dip for years and never thought to write it up because, well, I’ve always just thrown it together. People love it and always ask how to make it so I give them the 30,000 foot view “you take some chickpeas, mash them up, add some stuff, serve with nacho chips”. And I was asked again last night after serving it as an appy at a dinner party so now I’m going to actually write it down to share with you.

As with all my Q&Ds, it is infinitely adaptable. My version below is on the salty side and zesty enough for, in my opinion, the perfect burst of flavour on a cracker but you should adjust the recipe to your taste. I also sometimes sprinkle in some hot chili flakes. You could also add diced bell pepper, artichokes or fresh tomatoes. For a more “salad-y” route try diced carrot and celery. Smoky paprika would also be delicious. Shower with fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino instead of feta. And I have to admit I have wondered about adding a sweet note… raisins? Cranberries? A touch of curry powder?

See?!?! Adaptable :)

One more thing… I’m a huge fan of preserved lemons. They add a salty, briny, intense “je ne sais quoi”. You should be able to buy them in almost any Mediterranean market but you can also easily make them at home like this! Fresh lemon, of course, works almost as well.

1 1/2 cups of dried chickpeas to make 3-4 cups, or 2 cans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 medium red onion, finely diced
1/2 – 1 cup Moroccan dried cured olives (the wrinkly black ones) or other olive of your choice, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
1 whole preserved lemon (peel only), finely diced (or use the zest and juice of a whole fresh lemon)
1/2 cup Italian parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
couple glugs of good fruity olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 ounces crumbled feta to garnish

Boil your chickpeas (I like to do mine in stock or add a whole smashed clove of garlic, bay leaf and a pinch of salt to regular water) until quite tender but not mushy, or rinse and drain 2 cans of chickpeas. Put the chickpeas in a large bowl and mash them into a nice chunky texture. I use a pastry cutter to do this but you could use a potato masher or a just a fork. Add in your other ingredients (except feta) and stir to combine. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. Garnish with crumbled feta and serve with nacho chips or toasted pita.

Quick & Dirty: Fennel Orange Salad

I haven’t always been a fan of fennel. The thought of that licorice-y flavour in my food just seemed, well, weird. In the past year, though, it has not been uncommon to find it in my crisper. Why? Because I tried it. Yep, me who preaches about trying everything really didn’t try fennel. I really started using it regularly after I made this… then this. Last week I made a yummy sausage, fennel and white bean spring stew. And last night instead of cooking the sucker I made a salad that I know will become a regular around here… fennel orange salad. I dare you.

This is a Quick & Dirty recipe so I didn’t measure exactly. And except for the two main ingredients (fennel and oranges) I really just tossed in what I had in the fridge. I had a large bag of oranges sitting on the counter but you could even substitute canned if that’s what you have. And I forgot to sprinkle the couscous over the first serving of the salad (Husband going up for seconds: “What’s in the pot?”… arghhhhhh) so I’m calling that optional. You can switch out the the arugula for another salad green, change the pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to another seed or nut, sub in a different cheese, and/or switch the grain to farro or quinoa. Whatever floats your boat.

I had planned on serving this with grilled squid for some protein but ended up searing a sous vide smoked pork shoulder steak that I had in my freezer and adding a couple slices on the side. Sausage would be yummy as well.

Throw the fennel, oranges, arugula, mint and cilantro into a large bowl. Toss with about half the vinaigrette, adding more to your liking. Sprinkle over pepitas, feta, and couscous. Serve with a protein to make a meal.

handful of cilantro leaves
TBS or so chopped fresh mint
2 large handfuls of baby arugula
3 oranges, zested (set aside to add to vinaigrette) then peeled and sectioned, each section cut in half
1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup pepitas
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 cup cooked couscous (about 1/3rd cup from dry)

Orange Lime Vinaigrette
juice from whole juicy lime (2-3 TBS)
1 TBS orange zest, more or less to taste
1-2 tsp honey, more or less to taste
1 tsp dijon mustard
salt & pepper, to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (I used Korean gochugaru which has a lovely fruity element)
good quality olive oil to emulsify (about 1/3rd cup)

Put all ingredients except oil in a bowl, whisk in oil in a thin steady stream until dressing starts to thicken. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Quick & Dirty: Warm Fried Chickpeas With Tons of Herbs

Welcome back to Q&D! After eating meat a couple nights in a row I had a craving for something fairly healthy and lighter tasting. I love cooking up dried beans in my pressure cooker so I whipped up a batch of chickpeas. When I cook my chickpeas I add a teaspoon of Better than Bouillon to the water along with a couple smashed garlic cloves and a bay leaf. It adds a bit of flavour to the chickpeas and the extra broth drained from the chickpeas at the end is delicious. I freeze it and use in place of stock or broth for soup, stew, cooking grains and rice, etc.

Sooooo, quick & dirty! Make sure your beans are well dried. I put mine on a sheet pan lined with a clean tea towel and let them sit for a couple hours, shaking the pan a couple times to move them around. They won’t crisp up in your frying pan if they are wet. Wash your herbs and green onion, chop ’em up and toss them in a big bowl. Melt some sort of fat in a non-stick frying pan. I used leftover fat drained from the beef ribs I smoked the other night which added a nice flavour. Add your cooked or canned chickpeas (or other beans!) to the frying pan and fry over medium to medium-high heat for about 15 minutes (tossing every few minutes) until they start to get crispy. I had a lot of beans. If you have less it may not take 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, lemon zest, chili flakes and salt to taste. Tip the beans into your bowl with the herbs and squeeze over the lemon juice. Toss and re-season to taste. We ate these “as is” but if you want to make a real meal of it top with a fried or poached egg. I wouldn’t say no to a nice big piece of soft bocconcini or burrata torn over the top either, or even crumbled feta. Go for it :)

1½ cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water then simmered until tender
– OR 2 cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas, WELL DRIED
2 cups (more or less) chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, mint
1-2 green onions, sliced diagonally
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
couple shakes of chili flakes
1 lemon, zest and juice
about 1/4 cup vegetable or olive oil or some other sort of fat (schmaltz would be yummy as well)

French Lentil Sausage Rapini Stew

I have something to tell you guys. I did something a few nights ago that scared the heck out of me. Are you ready?… I catered my first dinner. I mean for real! SOMEONE ACTUALLY PAID ME TO COME TO THEIR HOUSE AND COOK FOR THEM! And it was a big success! I still can’t believe it. It was sooooo much work and so stressful and even if I never do it again I feel like I left my safe little world and wandered out into the dark night and KICKED BUTT!


And now we return you to our regular programming…

I am still recovering from cooking for 3 days straight so I decided to do a one-pot dinner last night and holy, it was gooooood! I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen (love the Deb) as my inspiration but made my usual tweaks.

I reduced the oil to fry the sausage because isn’t sausage “self-oiling”?? I used chicken stock instead of plain water and reduced the amount of liquid to make a thicker stew rather than soup. I amped up the flavour with cheese rinds* and used French lentils because I love the way they keep their shape after cooking and don’t go mushy. Oh, and the biggest change, rapini instead of chard… hello! I LUUUUUV me some rapini. The tasty green bitterness makes my mouth happy. And think of finishing almost any soup or stew with a squeeze of lemon as pixie dust, just a little bit o’ magic to take it over the top.

*(You ARE saving your cheese rinds from your Parmesan and Pecorino, aren’t you? Throw those suckers in the freezer and add them to your soups and stews!)

one glug plus 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 large links of Italian sausage (I used one hot and one sweet), casings removed
1 medium onion, diced (or 1/2 onion plus 1 shallot)
1 celery stalk, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup French green lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can good quality whole tomatoes (Italian plum or San Marzano)
4 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
parmesan or other cheese rinds, if you have them
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 bunch of rapini, stalks separated from the leaves, everything chopped into 2″ pieces
Grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
1/2 fresh lemon to finish

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat and add sausages, breaking up until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, and a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, stock or water, cheese rinds if using, and more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a VERY gentle simmer and allow to cook uncovered until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30-40 minutes. If your soup starts to get dry or too thick, add some water.

When the lentils are cooked, taste and add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you would like more spice. Add the rapini stalks and cook for 2 minutes until just tender. Add the leaves and stir until they are softened, just a minute. Discard the bay leaves and any cheese rinds that haven’t melted into the stew.

To finish, put the 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves in a small skillet over medium heat until the garlic softens and barely starts to brown. Ladle the stew into bowls and drizzle the garlic oil over the top. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and garnish with the grated cheese. I like to serve with grilled bread or toast.

Chicken and White Beans: A One Pan Miracle

chicken white bean6We were at a friend’s place for dinner last year where another guest regaled us with the story of a previous thanksgiving fiasco when he had been put in charge of roasting the turkey on the BBQ but instead of watching the bird, decided to work out instead. When he returned the turkey was burnt to a crisp and it was about 2 hours before their guests arrived. Wife was still at work and would not be amused. He ran out to the local grocer and paid waaaaay too much money for another turkey and long story short, they didn’t eat until midnight. I wanted to ask why he didn’t spatchcock the bird but that wasn’t the point… it was a funny story.

But, seriously, why didn’t he spatchcock the bird? I cooked a 12 pound turkey for thanksgiving last year in 90 minutes. It’s not magic!

Spatchcocking (or butterflying) is a technique used most often for grilling but it’s ideal for roasting as well. A whole chicken or turkey in its natural form takes a long time to cook because the inside must reach a certain temperature to safely eat. The problem with this is the exterior (and especially the breast) often becomes overdone and dry before the inside is cooked. Opening it up and laying it flat by removing the backbone positions the breast at the centre of the meat which protects it while the darker meat takes most of the heat. It doesn’t make for a very amusing story, but it produces a heck of a tasty bird!

chicken white bean1

The balance of this dish is really just another attempt by me to use up some of my garden vegetables along with another healthy filler… beans. My first thought was to use chickpeas which I think would be a great substitute, but I usually cook my chickpeas from dried (I think they taste better) so I didn’t have any canned in the pantry. I did however have some canned white beans. And, as always, use whatever vegetables are handy. Squash would be great, sweet potatoes, peppers, zucchini, brussels sprouts in the winter. You could substitute rosemary or sage for the thyme. It’s very adaptable. If you’re not using harissa as I did (which has a nice spicy kick), sprinkle over a few red pepper flakes as well.

The miracle part of this recipe is laying the chicken over the vegetables to cook which bathes everything in those rich drippings and multiplies the flavour of this meal by, oh… I don’t know… a thousand?!!! And having only one dish to wash after making dinner?!?! It’s a festivus miracle times two. :)

1 small 2 1/2-3 1/2 pound chicken
1 tsp harissa spice mix
1 tsp za’atar
1 tsp salt
(Or substitute 1 TBS of your favourite rub for the 3 spices above. You could use organo for Greek flavour or a rub with smoked paprika and cumin for southwestern BBQ. Just make sure 1/3rd of your rub is salt.)

olive oil
a few cups sliced mixed veggies (I used carrot, baby golden beets, a leek, shallot, a few little potatoes and the greens from my beets)
few sprigs of thyme
1 pint small tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 can cannellini (white) beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
salt and pepper

cilantro, chopped

Place chicken, breast side down, on a work surface. Starting at the thigh end, cut along one side of backbone with kitchen shears. Turn chicken around and cut along other side. Discard backbone or save for stock. Flip chicken and open it like a book. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten. Sprinkle both sides with your rub and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400F degrees.

Separate veggies into two groups, veggies that take longer to cook (carrots, beets and potatoes) and veggies that don’t take as long (leek, garlic, tomatoes).

Put the longer cooking veggies in your cooking vessel along with the sprigs of thyme, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 15 minutes.

chicken white bean2

After 15 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and add the softer vegetables (except beet greens), tomatoes, white beans, and wine. Re-season with salt and pepper and stir. Brush or drizzle the chicken with olive oil and place, skin side up, over the vegetables and return to oven to roast for about 20 minutes.

chicken white bean4

At this point I like to gently lift the chicken with some tongs and give the vegetables a stir to ensure they are cooking evenly. Return the pan to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (internal temperature should be 165F). I check the internal temperature every 10 minutes and once it’s getting close, I stir in the beet greens. When the chicken has hit desired temperature, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut up the chicken and serve family style or in individual bowls garnished with a wedge of lemon and chopped cilantro.

chicken white bean5

Summer Stew

veg stew4Well that doesn’t sound very tasty. Summer stew? Hmmmph.

Wait! Don’t go yet!! It’s not as dull as it sounds!

My garden is overflowing with gorgeous little tomatoes as sweet as candy, summer squash, carrots, garlic, leeks and a variety of herbs. I wanted to use up a bunch at once and I’m sort of over grilled vegetables for a while. This stew was just the ticket. It is very lightly seasoned which allows the fresh vegetables to shine. I had some leftover bits (a few mushrooms and a cup of corn kernels) hanging around the fridge which I threw in as well but those ingredients are optional… use what you have! We ate this spooned over quinoa and it was a lovely summer meal, even if it was *stew.

*this reminds me of a story. I invited a friend over for dinner many years ago and told her I would make curry. She told me she hated curry. Really? Why do you hate curry?! It turned out that when she was little her mother would clean out the fridge every Friday and throw all the leftovers into a pan, heat it up, and call it curry. My curry was not THAT curry, and this stew is not a mash of overcooked vegetables… really.

veg stew1

1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
2 TBS olive oil
2 yellow squash (or zucchini)
1 red onion
1 red pepper
1 large or 2 small carrots
1 leek
2-3 garlic cloves
1 generous pint of small tomatoes
couple sprigs of fresh dill (to taste)
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground fennel
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
handful of fresh chopped herbs (I used basil and shiso leaf)
grated pecorino or parmesan to garnish
mushrooms (I had a few hanging around my fridge)
Corn kernels (I had about a cup leftover from making this salad the previous night)

Cook quinoa according to package directions (I usually use 1:1 seed to water or stock ratio, plus a quarter cup of liquid “for the pot”).

Cut squash, onions, and red pepper into bite size chunks. Slice carrots, leeks (and mushrooms if using). Mince garlic and chop fresh dill.

veg stew2

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a frying pan. Add carrots and red onion and fry until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add red pepper and leeks and continue to fry until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add squash (and mushrooms if using) and continue to fry until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, dill, stock, and spices and continue to cook until tomatoes have started to break and release their juices and veggies are done to your liking… mine took about 5 minutes more.

veg stew3

At this point you can also throw in any leftovers you have in your fridge to re-warm. I had a cup of corn kernels. You could also add leftover bits of protein such as sausage or shrimp, etc. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Spoon over quinoa, garnish with cheese and herbs and serve.

Southwestern Corn Salad

SW corn salad 3Me: Are you getting full?
Husband: (somewhat defensively) There’s a lot of nutritional value in this!

I really wasn’t dissing him for having to take a break from eating! There IS a lot of nutritional value in this salad (in other words, it’s pretty filling)! Even better, there are bucketloads of flavour… BUCKET! LOADS! I have been doing various riffs on this for a couple years and I think I finally nailed it. In past attempts I have used avocado, cucumber, green onion and probably a few other things I can’t remember. You can add what you want but I think this version is pretty amazing. (Although I noticed at the market last weekend that peaches are perfectly in season so one day very soon I might try omitting the honey from the dressing and adding diced peaches for the sweetness… anyone?!)

Now I get to pass along one of my first culinary tips to you. Generally in a single dish you want everything to be of similar size. There are exceptions to this, of course, but most of the time the dish is more visually appealing and easier to eat if everything is a similar size. In this salad, we can’t change the size of the corn or the beans so we are cutting everything else quite small. This is why the cherry or grape tomatoes are quartered, and gives you a guideline of how small to dice the peppers.

And finally (note to Husband), you really don’t have to finish the entire dish just because it’s there. This recipe should feed 4-6 people and leftovers will keep very well in the fridge for a day or two. Just sayin’!

3 cobs corn, shucked
1 yellow bell pepper, quartered and seeded
1 jalapeño or other medium spiced pepper
glug of olive oil for grilling
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
2 ounces crumbled feta
handful of chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used basil and shiso leaf)

2 TBS fresh lime juice
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 TBS good fruity olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat BBQ grill to high. Rub corn, bell pepper and jalapeño with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Grill corn, turning every couple minutes, until just starting to char. Cook peppers, skin side down (grill jalapeño whole), until skin is blackened. Remove from grill and let cool. Cut corn kernels from cobs with a sharp knife. Remove skin from peppers (seed jalapeño pepper) and cut into smallish dice. Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl.

SW corn salad 1

SW corn salad 4

SW corn salad 5

Add the first 5 dressing ingredients to a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Dressing will be a bit thin, this is ok. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Pour over salad and gently stir.

SW corn salad 2

I served this with Korean beef kalbi and grilled bread. The great thing is you don’t need to serve much meat, if any. A few grilled prawns thrown on the side would also be perfect. The salad is so filling that you should consider it the main portion of your meal… the rest is just garnish.

Wheatberry “Risotto” (with mushrooms and blue cheese)

wheatberry risotto4Let’s be honest – this is not risotto. And let’s be even more honest – I would probably not be eating a lot of wheatberries if they weren’t healthy. I don’t mind them once in a while, but they do not impart the same starchy creaminess that you find in real risotto. However, I have to admit that married with the earthy, silky loveliness of braised mushrooms and then amped up with blue cheese, you can’t help but fall a teeny little bit “in like”, if not love. They also have a satisfying chewiness that makes me feel like I’m eating more than just “healthy”. And bonus, Husband really enjoyed this (albeit 2 hours late and at room temperature) and that’s always a plus for me!

I have noted in the recipe to sauté the veggies in olive oil but if you’re anything like me, you will have that glass jar in the refrigerator which you are constantly topping up with drippings from bacon, fat from slow roasting pork, and what’s left in the pan after frying sausages, etc. Use it! Pork fat is all about flavour and, after all, everything else about this dish is pretty healthy.

I also used a cup of beef stock to deepen the flavour but feel free to use all poultry stock or make it vegetarian by using all vegetable stock. Whatever floats your boat! :)

½ ounce (1/2 cup, approximately) dried mushrooms (porcini or a mix)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
1 cup beef stock (or another cup of poultry or vegetable stock)
1 tsp salt
1 cup uncooked wheat berries
2 tablespoons olive oil (or other fat)
1 medium finely chopped onion (approximately 1 generous cup)
12 ounces white or brown mushrooms cleaned, trimmed and sliced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (or other herb like sage or thyme)
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 ounces of your favourite blue cheese
handful of chopped fresh parsley

To speed up the cooking process you can soak the wheatberries in a bowl covered with hot tap water for 4 hours or overnight.

Put dried mushrooms in a bowl or measuring cup and cover with 1 1/4 cups of boiling water and let sit. Agitate the mushrooms at around 15 minutes to loosen any grit. After 30 minutes remove and finely chop mushrooms. Strain liquid to remove any grit. You should have 1 cup.

wheatberry risotto1

Put all stock in a saucepan (chicken, beef, and mushroom broth) and bring to simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt.

Heat the olive oil or other fat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they begin to sweat and soften (about 3 minutes). Add the fresh mushrooms and continue to cook until they soften (about 5 minutes). Add a pinch of salt, the garlic and rosemary and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to brown (about 5 more minutes).

Add the wheatberries and reconstituted mushrooms. Stir in the wine and cook until most of the liquid as been absorbed, scraping the bottom of the skillet to remove any brown bits. Add 3 cups of the heated stock to the pan. Cover and maintain at a low simmer for 60-90 minutes. The timing will depend on your wheatberries. At the 60 minute mark check every 10 minutes or so until the wheatberries have reach desired doneness (ok, that may not be a real word but I’m using it anyway), adding more of the reserved stock if necessary to keep the dish from drying out.

wheatberry risotto3

When the wheatberries are done to your liking, taste and re-season with salt and pepper (remember you will be adding more blue cheese to don’t go crazy with the salt). Stir in the chopped parsley. Remove from heat, crumble blue cheese over the pan and top with the rest of the parsley. Serve and enjoy.