When I was in culinary school full time, I was also holding down two jobs, a volunteer position, and about a million extra-curricular school activities. I’m not sure how this happened because my prior go at post-secondary education had me focusing strictly on academics as a method of survival. Anything extra while class was in session seemed un-necessary, and frankly, a little too much for me to handle. The workload was different with culinary school, and because I felt like I was really in my element, I said yes to pretty much any learning opportunity that came my way.
One of those jobs afforded me a little bit of leisure time in the form of internet browsing/total click hole submersion. This was around the time that I discovered the Oh She Glows blog. I was a new-ish vegan and just so excited to find this resource of recipes and general lifestyle/health and wellness inspiration. It was the first blog that I read with frequency because a) blogs were still new to me, and b) Angela was so relatable and generous with everything she offered in her space. Up until then, I had been seeking out my plant-based cooking inspiration almost entirely in the form of books. Oh She Glows opened up a whole new world to me, and no doubt majorly inspired the work that I do now. I think a lot of plant-based and health-conscious bloggers can say that!
Angela and I share a few things in common: we’re both based in southern Ontario and we have the same publishing team for our books. Her first book is pretty much my go-to for desserts, or inspiration when I need a bit of a kick in the butt to eat better. When the team at Penguin Canada asked me to offer a cover quote for her new book back in March, it was quite significant for me. It felt like something had come full circle in that moment. The opportunities that come my way–I never take them lightly. I feel genuinely blessed (not just hashtag #blessed) to do what I do and to live this life, always. But I also realize that a lot of these things never would have come into fruition if I hadn’t been exposed to the work of people like Angela.
It’s always been hard for me to take ownership of my career when people ask what I do for a living. When I try to unpack exactly what I do for people, without also boring them to death, sometimes I know that all they’re hearing is “stays home and Instagrams pictures of food all day.” This insecurity led me to hang on to a restaurant job longer than I should have because I wanted people to know that I also had a “real” job. When I came back from Hawaii last March, finished up the first round of my own cookbook edits, and then was asked to take a look at Oh She Glows Every Day, I knew that I needed to start owning this blog, the book, and all of the other work that spills out from both. It was a pivotal moment of swirling energy and emotion that was telling me to go all-in to the tune of 110%.
So for ALL of that, I have to thank Angela. And I also have to thank her for the incredible new book and this marinated lentil recipe. My tendency is to always overcomplicate food, even if it doesn’t seem like it here. Sometimes a recipe serves as a potent reminder to just let things taste of what they are with extra freshness. This dish comes together so fast. While the lentils cook, you make the marinade and chop some herbs. Toss it all together and lunch is pretty much sorted for the week. Easy, delicious, and totally energizing food–my forever-favourite. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but the recipes in this book will keep me in there even more. Ashley McLaughlin‘s photos are so crisp and appetizing throughout, and literally every recipe feels like it’s within reach at a moment’s notice. A few things I have bookmarked: the all purpose vegan cheese sauce, the peanut better balls, golden French lentil stew, Angela’s version of shepherd’s pie, and the apple pie overnight oats. Not sure if it’s obvious, but I’m ready for the cozy, autumnal food times to begin ;) This book will help you get into that sweet spot where comfort meets high vibes AND accessibility. A total, total slam dunk.
THE BEST MARINATED LENTILS RECIPE
From Oh She Glows Every Day. Copyright © 2016, Glo Bakery Corporation. Reprinted by permission of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
SERVES: Makes 4 cups
NOTES: For this post, I did mine up as a little Mediterranean-style plate because I had some tasty homemade hummus and some well-suited vegetables on hand. But I also ate these lentils on kale salads, scooped up with Mary’s Crackers, and with some sautéed broccoli and a little topper of ripe avocado. So diverse! One little thing worthy of mention: I used my own slow-roasted tomatoes instead of the sun-dried tomatoes–just because I had them on hand and knew they would be so tasty here.
1 cup uncooked French green lentils
1/2 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions (about 1 medium bunch), dark and light green parts only
1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves, minced
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
Pick over the French and green/brown lentils, discarding any debris. Rinse and drain the lentils and put them in a medium saucepan along with 4 cups (1 L) of water. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes, until tender.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Stir in the green onions, parsley, and tomatoes.
Drain the lentils very well. Spoon them into the bowl with the other ingredients (it’s okay if they are still warm) and stir well. Season with additional salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, or let cool slightly and then cover and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Stir well before serving. This dish will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or you can freeze it in a freezer-safe zip-top bag with the air pressed out for up to 1 month. After thawing, I recommend adding extra dressing and salt to liven it up again.