Spiced Cod on a Warm Leek, Mushroom & French Lentil Salad

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.

The Rainforest Loop outside of Tofino.

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.

The Lighthouse Trail in Ucluelet.

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:

Ingredients:

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)

2tsp paprika

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

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Two In One – Jicama Mexican Slaw & Shrimp Tacos!

Hola on this gorgeous day! You guys, all these recipes keep coming to me after experiencing Mexican cuisine and overwhelming my head (and grocery bill!). I’ve tried and tested quite a few of my recipe creations and this two in one idea of Jicama Mexican slaw turned into shrimp tacos were a home run, I must share with you this deliciousness and bring to your home some Mehicooo influence! A creation fitting for Taco Tuesday I’d say, a fresh Mexican Jicama Mango Slaw with a light Sweet Chili Lime Dressing, which makes for an impeccable base for a darn tasty Shrimp Taco with Jicama Mango Chili Lime Slaw. I love two in one, versatile dishes so darn much, creates two dishes for the week in one preparation, packs well for lunches and a perfect vibrant and light dish for all those upcoming gatherings and BBQ’s!

While in Mexico, every meal, buffet, market, side street served up Jicama (pronounced hee-cama), it is a Mexican root vegetable native to Mexico, a large light brown bulb, after one bite, I couldn’t believe I had been walking past this in the grocery store all my life. Jicama is similar to a turnip of sorts but has a much sweeter flavor, comparable to a mild apple, it has a tough peel which needs to be removed and a gorgeous crisp white flesh. It seriously is such a fresh and tasty snack, usually served simply, sliced into sticks with a dusting of salt, chili powder and a squeeze of lime juice, I had a plate a day! You can find it in almost any grocery store! I love slaws of any variety and had a light bulb moment, Jicama would make a far better slaw base than boring cabbage! Keeping the integrity of the Mexican simplicity in flavors, I brought together Jicama, ripe juicy mango, crisp red pepper, fresh cucumber, sweet carrots and a handful of fragrant cilantro for the slaw, delicious! The fresh Sweet Chili Lime dressing is a simple marinade of lime juice, chili powder, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, avocado oil and diced jalapeno! This Mexican Jicama Mango Slaw is a breeze to make, serve as a side, top with your favorite protein or enjoy my favorite way… shrimp TACO style!

Well, my lovely, spunky spin teacher always reminds me of Taco Tuesdays on Tuesdays and uses it (yells at us) as inspiration to get through a sweaty class… I’ve adapted naturally to this sort of persuasion through food (healthy food!) while dying on the bike. So let’s honor Taco Tuesday and treat ourselves to these well deserved, delicious, Shrimp Tacos with Jicama Mango Chili Lime Slaw. I was chowing down on the slaw one night and then BBQ’ed a skewer of Chili Lime Shrimp and threw it on top, then it dawned on me, why not have fun with my food and create a shrimp taco, lightened up with lettuce as the boat instead of tortilla, how Mexican of me… 🙂 So, I had some gorgeous butter leaf lettuce waiting to be filled with Jicama Mango Slaw, succulent shrimp and topped off with my favorites, avocado, jalapeno, cilantro and red onion. That’s the beauty of tacos, you get to play around with toppings and flavors to create your perfect little taco, mmmm. So simple yet looks like a Mexican fiesta on a plate! All in one preparation, make the slaw as well as extra Sweet Chili Lime Dressing to marinade your shrimp in, dinner under 30 minutes is served!

I hope I’ve inspired you and diversified your kitchen recipes on this Taco Tuesday! Thank you for everyone’s ongoing, incredible support of my creations and the feedback I receive everyday is invaluable. SO, why not make some shrimp tacos for you and the fam tonight! Also, a FYI, my husbands believes that food from the sea is not for him, I made these tacos for him the exact same way but added steak strips with the same Sweet Chili Lime marinade, he said it “was better than Mexico”! Go get your taco on! XOXO

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Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp

Long weekends rock, especially May Long here in Canada, camping commences, spring is in full bloom, and grills are a blazin’! Let’s get grilling my Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp this long weekend, it’s undeniably mouth-watering and freshly inspired by my recent jaunt in cuisine cultivated Mexico! I was exhilarated by Mexico’s vibrant food scene and distinct flavors, the unique market’s, fresh and wholesome produce, beautiful seafood, indigenous spices and ingredients. These items ignited a need to create a sauce that embodied their flavor culture through my eyes!

Everyday, even if it was dining at the resort’s buffet or meandering the streets and restaurants of Mexico and its island’s, I was exposed to their vastness of gorgeous produce as well as perfectly balanced and layered bold spice profiles. It quickly became apparent that seafood is abundant and fresh on the coasts, staples such as corn, beans, rice, avocados, tomatoes, squash and melt in your mouth tropical fruit was plentiful! The variety and multitude of preparation in chilies were inventive and the countless palatable spices had my taste buds dancing with every bite. For me the combination of fresh herbs and avocado over seafood was a combination I couldn’t get enough of, I had to create a sauce that embodied it all!

The concept of a Chimichurri sauce with a Mexican make over was exactly how I wanted to showcase the vibrant and earthy Mexican food culture in a dish. I mean who doesn’t love sauces! Chimichurri is traditionally an Argentinian sauce that pairs well with meats, I decided to amp it up with some Mexican flair.  This Mexican Style Chimichurri sauce is packed with fresh herbs, tangy acids, creamy avocados, spicy jalapeno, it truly compliments pretty much everything you smother it on… trust me, I explored it on many ingredients! From fresh seafood, to vegetables, chicken and steak, this sauce offers a real punch to anything you try it on. I have a major love affair with succulent, sweet shrimp (ask those that watched me mow down on shrimp in Mexico :)) and thought this bold and spicy sauce would pair beautifully well with shrimp, yep, sure did!

You guys, I have literally been basting all my meals in this Mexican Style Chimichurri, the outstanding part of this recipe is it takes no time at all to whip up, it keeps so well in an air tight container and flavors are even more elevated after a few days! It has been keeping my Mexican flavors and cuisine withdrawal symptoms under control I’d say, not to mention makes for a damn tasty and quick meal every time. I simply marinade anything I’m craving (of recent, Mexican Chimichurri eggplant and shrimp was my choice for dinner) in this mucho Mexican Chimichurri and the grill also enhances those flavors, lending a smokey hue!

I hope I delivered a little bit of Mexico to your May long weekend grilling plans, the perfect sauce to pack in that camping cooler! Happy May Long everyone, stay safe and pop those delicious Mexican Style Chimichurri Grilled Shrimp in your mouth! Let me know what you think of the recipe and showcase your creations by tagging your photos on Instagram @apinchofnurse. Watch for a soon to come travel blog post on my recommendations and ventures through Isla Mujeres, Mexico!

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