Summer Lentil Salad

lentil summer salad #voraciousvander

What’s your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

On a rainy Sunday are you inclined to a.) curl up on the chaise lounge with a good book b.) scribble in your journal for an hour or two c.) have a movie marathon d.) bake something that fills the house with a crazy-good smell of butter and sugar and spice (?)

I’m not very inventive when it comes to the lazy Sunday. I’m all about tackling a TV series or two. I mean, this is really the only way to watch Homeland, in my opinion. Downton after Downton episode? Oooh yes please.

Catfish? Ugh, I might be addicted in a this-makes-me-nervous-and-I-can’t-stop-watching kinda way.

I also enjoy copious amounts of cookies and tea with my embarrassing entertainment  choices. And maybe a lunch that involves a baguette, at least two types of cheese and some sort of pesto.

I love when I can fully enjoy being lazy. Not feeling like I should be doing anything else besides hanging out on the couch with my man.

This Monday, I’m starting the first full-time office job I’ve had in a long while. Of course, I’m a little nervous. I’m concerned about what to wear, wondering what my co-workers will be like, and just plain eager to get that first day behind me.

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Prawn Saganaki

That just-showered post-beach feeling.
Listening to your favorite album on repeat.
A frosty glass of beer on a hot day.
Watching Marie Antoinette in bed while eating squares of dark chocolate.
Finishing a good book.
Coffee, just the right amount of milk and sugar.
Fresh herbs picked off of your own balcony.

You with me here?

I’m painting a picture of contentment.

My picture, anyway.

Perfectly toasted, garlicky slabs of sour dough slathered with a simple combination of fresh summer tomatoes, salty feta, and pink prawns.

Oh yes. I would put that in my sálon.*

I’m so glad prawn saganaki came into my life. It’s the perfect balance of fresh and warming flavors and it demands to be eaten with good bread.

And good bread is the key contentment. Always.

*Andre Leon Talley, I’m stealing your catch phrase. Count it.

Prawn Saganaki (serves 2)
Recipe adapted from Chef Greg Everett’s recipe at Box Fresh

- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– 1 medium yellow onion, diced
– 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– about 350 grams (3/4 lb.) of prawns, peeled and deveined
– 1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
– pinch of red chili flakes
– 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
– salt & pepper
– 2-3 tablespoons feta cheese, crumbled
– 1/4 cup combined fresh basil and parsley, roughly chopped
– good bread, sliced, toasted or grilled, and rubbed with a garlic clove, to serve

Heat oil in a medium-sized pan over a medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Add prawns, olives and chili flakes and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the prawns turn pink.

Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until they just start to break down. Season with a pinch of salt and a grind of fresh pepper, to taste.

Reduce heat to low. Sprinkle with feta and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 2 minutes until feta is melted.

Transfer to a serving dish and top with fresh herbs. Serve with garlic-rubbed toasts.

Notes:
This is meant to be made in a skillet of sorts, but I just used a pan with a heat-resistant handle. If you’re using a skillet, you can pop the entire thing into a hot oven for 2 minutes to melt the feta instead of covering over a low heat. 

Kalamata Chimichurri with Grilled Vegetables

There’s a lot to like about chimichurri sauce.

Mostly because there are endless variations of the traditional Argentinian sauce, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a version that you like. The basic recipe has parsley, oregano, garlic, vinegar and olive oil. But it’s not unheard of to involve tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and my favorite addition, paprika. The constant in chimichurri for me is the paprika – no matter what herbs are thrown in I must have olive oil, garlic and paprika. I love the deep orange tint and rich, full flavor it gives.

Another excellent rendition is this kalamata olive chimichurri, from Bon Appetit’s 2012 cleanse menu. The salty olives are a perfect foil for the fresh parsley and smokey paprika.

This sauce was intended for a nice piece of grilled beef, which I still plan on using it with, but I also thought I would try it out on some fresh grilled vegetables. To me, the kalamatas are meaty and the paprika is reminiscent of chorizo, so I didn’t even really miss the beef. That said, this makes for a beautiful side to grilled fish, steak, or a seafood paella. You could also serve it over brown rice for a satisfying and colorful meat-free meal.

Kalamata Chimichurri
(adapted slightly from Bon Appetit)
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 1/4 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
– 1 bay leaf, broken in half
– 1 medium sized shallot, finely diced
– 1/4 cup fresh parsley
– 1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
– 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
– 2 teaspoons paprika
– 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
– salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium sized skilled over a medium heat. Add garlic, chilli flakes, and the bay leaf and cook for 1 minute.

Add shallots and cook for about 2 minutes, until translucent. Stir in paprika and cayenne and remove from heat. Stir in parsley, olives, vinegar, and a teaspoon or two of water.

You can prepare ahead and let stand at room temperature until you’re ready to use. Add more water in very small amounts if the sauce needs thinning.

For the Grilled Vegetables:
Ideally, I would do this on a BBQ, but I did a quick pan “grill” session, to speed things up.
All you need is a little olive oil in a pan over a medium-high heat, season the veggies with some salt and pepper and you’re on you way. I used:
– Red pepper/capsicum, cut into thin strips
– Broccoli florets
– Zucchini, cut into thin strips

Add the vegetables that take the longest to cook to the pan first. I put the red peppers in first, because they take a little while to soften but also because they give off the most aromatic flavor of the bunch. Then in went the broccoli for a minute or two, and the zucchini last. I covered the pan to trap a little steam in there to move things along. All up, my veggies took about 10 minutes total.

Spoon chimichurri over the top to serve.