Well September is here and I feel like I have permission to slowly return to my daily routine after an overly busy summer filled with change, a new home, numerous renovations, new adjustments, sporadic road trips, the company of tremendous friends, summer events, festivals and a lovely end of August vacation exploring Canada’s West coast. I’ve always found it pressing to have to let go of summer months and face another Canadian winter, but I’m learning to embrace what each season brings, as it is inevitable! With inspiration from the West Coast, a change in season’s, that brisk bite to the air in the evenings and a longing for the savory comfort foods that come with fall, I have created a dish that envelopes this all, Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek Mushroom & French Lentil Salad for my next recipe!
My husband and I spent over a couple of weeks via road trip with the good ol’ Flagstaff tent trailer not far behind, travelling and delving into the culture, food, seasonal produce, hiking and golfing scenes that British Columbia has to offer. We often try to stay off the beaten path and get recommendations from the locals on where we can find prime food, hiking, secret spots etc. I mean, sometimes you just have to do the touristy thing because it’s famous for a reason… but many times there is so much more to be found and treasured. Our countries beauty never ceases to amaze me and now more than ever I can appreciate the diversity and uniqueness of the bountiful produce Canada provides. I wanted my next recipe to be a representation of Canadian grown produce and I tried to captivate the beautiful seasonally available fresh picked mushrooms, fresh and wild caught cod as well as Canadian grown lentils. It all led to a healthy, earthy and nature inspired recipe that I know you guys will adore to celebrate the summer memories we created and to open our arms and minds to a hopefully warm and bright fall.
I’ve wanted to create a lentil recipe for quite some time now, than summer hit and the lentil inspiration fell off my radar! Then while hiking through the lush and green temperate rain forests on the West Coast Trail, my craving was re-ignited, after many kilometers of coastal forest and the salty ocean breeze, I was suddenly longing a nutritious, earthy, protein packed meal and I thought of lentils and the main fish catch at this time in and around Tofino and Ucluelet is white, flaky Cod. Then I was educated about the competitive and bountiful mushroom foraging scene near Tofino, chanterelle mushroom season (aka the white gold rush) starts in mid August, so I thought, why not throw some mushrooms in the mix as well, who doesn’t love mushrooms! I was able to get my hands on some chanterelle mushrooms while there for a pretty penny (I wasn’t brave enough to pick my own as apparently it is quite the competitive and territorial sport), but I wasn’t able to find them here in Calgary, so I went with lovely oyster and brown cremini mushrooms instead for this recipe.
Lentils are particularly impressive you guys, so packed with protein that they count as a meat alternative on the Canada food guide! I chose French Lentils for this recipe because they are, what I think, the gold standard of lentils, they have a unique speckling in colour and they absorb flavor so well, they are a little peppery with an earthy flavour. I found them at Planet Organic in the Bulk section, for I believe under 50 cents/100 gram. I also love that they are locally sourced, did you know Canada is now the world’s leader in lentil export to the global marketplace, 99% grown in Saskatchewan and that 1% in Alberta, woohoo! They are truly complimented by the garlic, Dijon and sautéed leeks, it’s so delicious!
This Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad is ready in under 30 minutes, it’s hearty, filling, packed with protein, classic flavors and it’s great re-heated for lunch or dinner. You can make it a vegetarian dish by omitting the fish or swap out your favorite protein like chicken, it’s so versatile. Now let’s get to cooking this end of summer and intro to fall dish!
Makes 4 servings:
2 cups dried French Lentils
4 pieces of fresh wild Cod – rinsed
1/2 tbsp avocado oil (or oil of choice)
2 cloves garlic – minced
1.5 large leek (white part only) – finely sliced (approx. 1 cup)
2.5 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme (or 1 tbsp. dried)
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
1 cup cremini brown mushrooms – sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms – chopped
3 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
3tbsp. seedy Dijon mustard
1/2 cup vegetable stock
For the fish (per fish fillet)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
course ground pepper to taste
Now, how to cook lentils, I personally soak my lentils prior to cooking, but it isn’t necessary. I find that when I soak them beforehand they cook quicker and I like to soak them in water with apple cider vinegar to help break down the starches, which then aids our bodies in digesting the lentils when cooked, it’s totally up to you whether you want to give these bad boys a soak beforehand. I soaked them for no longer than 8 hours which decreases the cooking time quite a bit. But again, this is not necessary. After the soak, I rinse them well and add them to a pot with salted water (3 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils) & 3 whole sprigs of thyme, let it come to a full boil then turn down the heat so a calm boil remains and cook for 20-25 minutes or until your desired consistency is met.
While you are cooking your lentils, in a large sauté pan add your leeks to heated oil, garlic, fresh thyme, paprika, salt & pepper and sauté over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes until the leeks soften, then add your chopped mushrooms, sauté another 5-8 minutes until your mushrooms begin to soften. Add the Dijon mustard and lemon juice, mix well, then add the vegetable stock and allow it to simmer and develop the flavours. Your lentils should be done, strain and add them to your mushroom/leek mix, mix in well.
Take your cod and sprinkle with salt, pepper, paprika and caraway seeds, make room in your pan and add your cod directly onto the heated pan over medium heat, cook cod for about 4-5 minutes per side or until opaque and flaking. You can cook your cod in a separate pan if you desire, but I’m all about less dishes… remove your cooked cod then dish out desired amount of warm lentil salad into a bowl and top off with cod! There you have it, your own Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad! I hope everyone’s post Long Weekend and intro into a new routine has been lovely, let me know what you think of this recipe! XOXO