by Agnieszka Harkins
Last week I made a salad for my clients. Tuscan Lentil Salad. They asked me for protein-rich, healthy, and low-carb meals.
Since I cook for each client once a week (for the most part), I have to come up with a practical menu where the food is easy to eat straight from the container (on a lunch break at work), and most importantly – easy to reheat later in the week. Usually I put some kind of soup on the menu, like Tomato Bisque with Quinoa, or Creamy Cauliflower Soup with chunks of the veg floating joyfully inside, or another health miracle, my Beet Soup, also known as a liver cleanser. Most of the soups I make are loaded with variety of good stuff while staying very light in the calorie department.
It’s very important that there are fresh vegetables on the menu, but a regular green salad lasts a day. Hence, for my clients I opt for hearty salads that will stay fresh for up to three days. I play with grains like a 6-year old with LEGO blocks. One day it’s Wheat Berry mix, another Quinoa blend, Barley, Farro, you name it. Last week, however, I used a recipe by Julie Daniluk, a Canadian nutritionist and the host of Healthy Gourmet (a TV show) simply because it looked divine.
When I was mixing all the ingredients at my clients’ kitchen, they both peeked over my shoulder and instantly requested a taste of the wonder. Let me just say that it didn’t end on a simple one bite tasting. An entire portion planned for one of the meals later in the week disappeared from the counter. A few minutes later, the husband returned to the kitchen with an empty container in hand, still licking his mouth.
“THAT WAS DELICIOUS.”
The wife only said:
“CAN WE PLEASE HAVE THIS SALAD EVERY WEEK?”
Your wish is my command. The salad became a staple on their menu. I also tested it on Jason and he loved every bite. Well, not the olive bite. I tried so hard to sneak some succulent, delicious olives into his bowl, but his olive detector would not be fooled. There are only few edible things Jason is on non-speaking terms with, and olives just happen to be one of those misfortunate bastards.
Since the Lentil Salad was such a success, I had to give credit where it was due. Julie Daniluk is a walking encyclopedia of food knowledge. Put any type of produce, nut, meat, you name it in front of her eyes and she begins to recite all the attributes of the food like a poem.
I will have you know also that Oprah Winfrey got a whiff of the Healthy Gourmet show, and with no avail had her people load all the goodies up on her new network’s website. Aha, just look at the web address when you visit the show’s web page.
I’ve studied nutrition for my own benefit over the years. However, I never went to school to bring that knowledge up to more comprehensive and organized level. Julie is the reason I started looking into various nutrition programs around the country that offer either the traditional, thus purely scientific approach, or more holistic one that produces life coaches. Keep your fingers crossed! I’m very excited about this project.
Pst, one more thing. It occurs to me that I have more in common with Julie beyond the affection for healthy and whole foods. Me thinks there’s Polish blood flowing in her veins…
To Be Investigated!
Tuscan lentil salad
This hearty new spin on an old classic makes a great, fast meal and packs well for lunch the next day. Expect steady, long-lasting energy from this vitamin- and mineral-charged dish.
8 sun-dried tomato halves, packed in oil, drained
1 cup fennel bulb, finely sliced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1/2 cup water-packed artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup olives, preferably black
1 cup red pepper, julienned
19 oz (540 mL) can green lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Sea Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1. Finely chop sun-dried tomatoes. Slice fennel into thin strips. Coarsely chop fennel fronds (the feathery green tops). Quarter the artichokes. Julienne the red pepper by slicing into matchstick-size slices. Wash and chop parsley.
2. Mix all dressing ingredients in a separate bowl.
3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and top with dressing. Mix well and taste to adjust seasoning. The flavour improves as the salad marinates, so consider making it ahead. Can be refrigerated for up to three days.
Agnieszka brings all her passion for food and her cooking expertise to a city where food lovers unite, Austin! She takes advantage of the abundance of high quality local ingredients and appreciates Austin’s demand for the best food money can buy.
“I just love to feed people” says the girl who as a child would pull out a cook book for kids and surprise her mother with stuffed eggs or a boat sandwich for supper. “I still feel like that 8 year old every time I serve food and wait for that first sign of joy amongst the guest at the table.”
from Just A Pinch Austin