THE CRUSADE: Food Day Canada champion Anita Stewart teams up with Canadian Lentils to launch a country-wide campaign to laud the humble lentil — versatile, protein-packed, and a huge crop for Saskatchewan farmers. She calls it “the homegrown ingredient of this century.” Phew! Heady stuff.
THE BATTLE: 24 chefs throw down the gauntlet, each whipping up a signature lentil dish that stays on the menu for the full month of June. Ottawa has four competitors. They made the dish! They made a video of them making their dish! They need your vote to win!
THE OTTAWA COMPETITORS:
Patrick Garland, Absinthe: Moroccan lentil hararira with a bacon-wrapped quail stuffed with dried fruits and pistachios
Marc Lepine, Atelier: Red lentil fritter with duck, carrots, and beluga lentils
Steve Mitton, Murray Street: Lentil vegetarian shepherd’s pie
Chris Deraiche, The Wellington Gastropub: Stuffed and roasted saddle of rabbit, lentils braised with Beau’s Lugtread, pickled carrot, and mustard sauce
Atelier. Almost goes without saying. Chef Marc Lepine’s carrot rollercoaster frames a perfect lentil fritter and a little pool of lentils in their natural state, cooked in a mirepoix. The duck’s just a bonus. The combination of flavours? Sublime.
Murray Street. No surprise that variations of Chef Steve Mitton’s veg-herder’s pie are on permanent rotation on the menu. The lentil version sees them combined with ground mushrooms and quinoa for a truly brilliant texture.
BEST WAY TO INTRODUCE RABBIT TO THE MENU:
The Wellington Gastropbub. Sure, it’s all about the lentils, but Chef Chris Deraiche has also used the opportunity to get locals to try the under-appreciated rabbit (he sold over 100 portions in the first 15 days of June), perching it atop a small hill of lentils braised with beer. In the process, he creates a classic gastropub dish that manages to be simultaneously high-brow and unsnobby.
BEST UNDERSTANDING OF THE “SPONGE EFFECT”:
Absinthe. Lentils are flavour sponges, soaking up the seasonings around them. Chef Patrick Garland takes full advantage, designing a divine Moroccan lentil hararira redolent with ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric.
But don’t take our word for it. Go try them for yourself and vote for your favourite!
**The Fundelentils tour is promoted by Canadian Lentils, a division of Saskatchewan Pulse Growers, a farmer-funded organization that works to advance the pulse industry in Saskatchewan.