Halloumi, a Greek-style cheese with a firm, chewy, almost meaty texture that makes it the ultimate—and literal!—cheesesteak option for the grill because it can withstand the soaring heat without melting. The intense heat of grilling also brings out the sweetness of the salad’s red peppers and zucchini, while a tomato dressing brightens up the whole meal. Farro, spelt, and quinoa are good alternatives to freekeh, but you can also make this salad grain free if you prefer.
Freekeh is durum wheat that’s harvested while young and green. After being roasted over an open fire, its straw and chaff is rubbed off, leaving behind a smoky-tasting tender grain that is higher in protein and fibre than most other whole grains.
In medium-sized bowl, stir together tomatoes, olives, mint or basil, garlic, lemon zest, and salt (if using). Stir in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Let dressing sit for 30 minutes.
In medium saucepan, place freekeh, 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) water, and a couple pinches of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until freekeh is tender, about 20 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Set aside for 5 minutes and then fluff with fork.
Slice halloumi lengthwise into 4 slabs. In small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning or za’atar and olive oil. Brush mixture over halloumi slices. Heat grill to medium and grease grates. Cook halloumi slices until tender and grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Brush pepper and zucchini slices with oil and lightly season with salt (optional). Grill until tender and slightly charred, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill. Peppers will likely cook faster than zucchini. When cool enough to handle, slice peppers into strips and zucchini into half moons.
To assemble salad, divide greens among serving plates and top with freekeh, vegetables, halloumi, and tomato vinaigrette.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.