This hearty version of traditional sloppy joes has a tidy helping of sleep-aiding dietary fibre, thanks to its payload of smoky lentils. Swapping out the doughy bun for sweet bell pepper ups the nutritional ante and visual appeal. It’s also superb as leftovers.
Smoke and fire
Chipotle peppers are ripened red jalapeno chiles that have been smoked and dried. In stores, they’re typically sold in a rich, smoky flavoured adobo sauce. They add fiery, complex flavour to sauces used for pasta dishes, tacos, and any version of sloppy joes.
In large saucepan, place lentils, brown rice, and 5 cups (1.25 L) of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until both lentils and rice are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well.
Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and eggplant, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add carrot and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Place tomato paste, chipotle pepper, mustard powder, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in pan, and heat for 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir balsamic vinegar into sauce. Stir lentils and rice into mixture, and heat for 5 minutes.
On microwave-safe dish, place pepper halves, cut sides up, cover with paper towel, and microwave on high for 5 minutes, or until tender.
Stuff peppers with lentil mixture and garnish with parsley.
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.