Lentil Salad with (local) Hazelnuts and Goat Gouda

I must admit, I’ve never been a huge lentil fan.  That being said, I look at my recipe demos as a great opportunity to change my mind about different foods.  When I saw this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, it addressed some of the issues that I have with lentils – mainly the skins popping open and the mushy-ness of it all – and I had to try it.

Cook’s Illustrated recommends a two-step process to cooking perfect lentils – you brine them first and then bake them in the oven.  I must say, these were so good that lentils may have found their newest fan!  I soaked them for an hour in a sea salt and water brine, and then covered them and left them in the fridge until the next morning (you can leave the brined lentils in the fridge for a couple of days before baking).  When I baked them, I used a mix of 50/50 water to broth, which I made using Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon – you can alternately use low-sodium chicken broth if it doesn’t matter if the dish is vegetarian or not.  I wouldn’t recommend using one of the liquid vegetable broths that we carry at the Co-op, as both Pacific and Imagine use ingredients that I don’t feel would meld very well with the rest of the recipe.

After I let the lentils cool (you can serve the salad hot or at room temperature) I mixed together the dressing and voila – delicious lentil salad!  We’re lucky enough to have a hazelnut orchard in our county, so I garnished the salad with Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards toasted hazelnuts (in bulk) and with shredded Benning goat Gouda.

I must tell you that this is already one of the top five most popular recipes I have ever sampled for customers – the salad is very flavorful with a tangy finish and garnered numerous enthusiastic responses from tasters!

Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Gouda © Sassy Sampler 2012

Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Gouda

Serves 4 – 6


  • 1 c French green lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 6 c water
  • 2 c low-sodium broth—chicken or veggie*
  • 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 c chopped curly parsley
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 oz crumbled or shredded hard goat cheese, like Gouda (about 3/4 c)
  • 1/3 c coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts

* for a vegetarian version, I recommend using Rapunzel vegan vegetable bouillon—boil 3 cups of water and add one bouillon cube and boil until it dissolves.  Measure out 2 c to use in the recipe (you should only have a small amount left over).  I don’t recommend using the pre-made vegetable broth from Imagine or Pacific Foods for this recipe.


  1. Place lentils and 1 t salt in a bowl.  Cover with 4 cups warm water (about 110°F) and soak for 1 hour.  Drain well (drained lentils can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days before cooking).  If you are using bouillon instead of chicken broth, you can prepare it at this point as it will also keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325°F.
  3. Place drained lentils, 2 c water, broth, garlic, bay leaf, and 1/2 t sea salt  (reduce salt if using bouillon cube broth) in a medium  oven-proof saucepan or baking dish.  Cover and bake until lentils are tender but remain intact, 40-60 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk oil, vinegar, and mustard together in a large bowl.
  5. Drain lentils well using a colander with small holes; remove and discard garlic and bay leaf.  Refrigerate for about a half hour if serving at room temperature.
  6. Add drained lentils, parsley, and shallot to dressing and toss to combine.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with goat cheese and hazelnuts.

Notes from Cook’s Illustrated:

“Why this recipe works:  The most important step in making a lentil salad is perfecting the cooking of the lentils so they maintain their shape and firm-tender bite. There turns out to be two key steps. The first is to brine the lentils in warm salt water. With brining, the lentil’s skin softens, which leads to fewer blowouts. The second step is to cook the lentils in the oven, which heats them gently and uniformly. Once we had perfectly cooked lentils, all we had left to do was to pair the earthy beans with a tart vinaigrette and boldly flavored mix-ins.

French green lentils, or Lentilles du Puy, are our preferred choice for this recipe, but it works with any type of lentil except red or yellow. Brining helps keep the lentils intact, but if you don’t have time, they’ll still taste good. The salad can be served warm or at room temperature.”

Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese PDF

Thanksgiving Recipes

We are nearing the biggest holiday in the grocery industry, and you can feel the excitement at the Co-op already.  The Shelton’s turkeys arrived today and are being priced as we speak, so that means only one thing – it is almost Thanksgiving!

In anticipation, I thought I might share some great recipes for the holiday.  I am a big planner when it comes to Thanksgiving – I have a folder at home with all my receipts, recipes, and time lines/checklists  from holidays past to aid in my planning.  I am a little obsessive about it, but it makes for a really smooth day when I’m using every inch of available space in my tiny kitchen!  I also like to make everything I can in advance, and the green bean casserole recipe can be made a day in advance and then just popped in the oven on the big day.

Here are some tasty recipes and handy tips.  Enjoy!

Carve Turkey like a Pro PDF

Let’s talk turkey safety PDF

Turkey 101 PDF

Brining a turkey – I usually use 1 cup  sugar and 1 cup of the least expensive salt that we have in bulk for a 12# bird.  I put the sugar and salt in a heavy plastic bag and mix in enough water to dissolve as much of it as possible (just squoosh it around in the bag).  I then add the turkey and enough water to cover it, put it in a large stock pot (in case the bag leaks) in the fridge.  I usually let it sit for 10 – 12 hours.  You can find some more information here.

gluten-free = GF

Classic Green Bean Casserole PDF (GF option)

GF Southern Cornbread PDF (from www.glutenfreecookingschool.com)

GF Cornbread Dressing PDF (from www.glutenfreecookingschool.com)

Wild Rice Stuffing PDF

Suzanne’s Old Fashioned Pumpkin Pie (GF if you make a gluten-free pie crust)

Apple Turnovers (The apple filler recipe can be used in an apple pie – see the original post for a recipe for a streusel topping.  The best GF pie crust I have found is made using Pamela’s Products GF Bread Mix Easy Pie Crust recipe)

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie (GF option if you make a gluten-free crust or use Glutino’s GF wafer cookies)

Cookie Crumb Pie Shell (from www.dianaskitchen.com)  You can use GF cookies in the recipe.

You can also try the GF Graham cracker recipe, but instead of making crackers, roll out the dough and treat it like pastry dough – the edges might fall if you make it too thin, but in theory I can’t see why it wouldn’t work as a pie shell!  It would be great for pumpkin pie (especially with the Vegan Pumpkin Mousse) or for chocolate cream pie…

Breakfast Pie

I wasn’t able to do a recipe demo yesterday at the Cordata store, but I figured I would still offer up one of my all-time favorite recipes.  It isn’t something that would be easily demo’d in the store, so this is the perfect opportunity to share it with you!

My husband and I developed this recipe from other similar ones we have made in the past.  It is a really easy weekend breakfast (that I will admit we make almost every weekend, and then I eat the leftovers for lunch).  It is very easy to add your favorite ingredients, but we have kept it simple and tailored it to our tastes.

This recipe can be made gluten-free and/or vegetarian.  The options are pretty limitless, just make sure you precook any extra ingredients you may add.  I make some suggestions for additions, and if you make this, let me know what your favorites are!

I use the Alexia Hashed Browns for the crust – I contacted Alexia and asked if their potato products were gluten-free and they replied that although they are not certified gluten-free, they process their potatoes in their own factory, and don’t use any wheat ingredients, so that is good enough for me.  If you have Celiac disease, then I wouldn’t recommend using these hash browns – the Cascadian Farms ones are great as well, you just may want to season them before pressing them into a “crust”.  I have never made this with fresh potatoes, and if you try it, be aware that you might need more butter (one of the original recipes called for a whole stick!) and it may change the cooking time.  When you add the milk, the size of the eggs you are using will dictate how much milk you will need – a large egg equals roughly 1/4c liquid, and you don’t want more than 2 cups of liquid or your pie will overflow!

Photo © 2010 Sassy Sampler

Breakfast Pie


1 package Hash Browns

4T butter

4-5 strips bacon

5 eggs

~3/4c milk

Sea salt

Black pepper

Garlic granules/powder

~ 1/4c Cheddar cheese, grated

Optional additions:

Any pre-cooked veggie (mushrooms, peppers, onions, etc.)

Any pre-cooked meat (ham, sausage, vegetarian sausage, etc.)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Thaw hash browns on counter (I usually spread them out on a piece of parchment paper).  Once they are thawed enough to work with (about 30 minutes) put them in a glass pie dish and press them into the dish to form the “crust” – remember to press them up the sides of the dish!

3. Melt 4T butter and pour over hash brown crust, making sure to coat the sides.  Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.

4. While crust is baking, cook your bacon.  I feel bacon is best baked in the toaster oven (about 400 degrees for about 10-15 min—keep an eye on it! and flip it a couple times).  Let cool.

5. In 2 cup liquid measuring cup, break five eggs and lightly mix.  Add about 3/4c milk to eggs (you should have no less than 1 3/4c and no more than 2c total).  Mix together with a fork or whisk and add salt, pepper, garlic, etc. to taste (I usually add about a 1/8t of salt, a couple good pepper grinds and a healthy dash of garlic).

6. Remove crust from oven and reduce temperature to 375 degrees.

7. Sprinkle cheese on bottom (and sides) of crust.  Next, add your layer of bacon (break it up into bits).

8. Slowly add egg mixture to crust, making sure to pour some over the edges of the crust.

9. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-4 minutes.

Great served with sour cream and hot sauce!

There are many places you can take this recipe, including adding vegetables and/or omitting the meat (if you are vegetarian) – just be sure you precook anything you add to the pie.  Any extra ingredients should be added before you pour in the egg/milk mixture.

April Meal of the Month – Carrot Ginger Soup

This month’s Meal of the Month recipe was submitted by our own Jean Rogers,Co-op  Board Administrator (although she wears many hats!).  The recipe is for a Carrot Ginger Soup that she makes all the time at home, and is an excellent recipe.  The recipe even includes a loaf of the Avenue Bread Rosemary Loavette – all for about $10!

This is truly a carrot ginger soup!  It is very spicy and a beautiful color.  It was easy to make, and smelled divine as it was cooking.  I used the Imagine Vegetable Broth when I prepared the recipe for my demo, and used about a half cup of cooking sherry (because that is what the Cafe had on hand!).  I also used about one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (the recipe calls for up to two).  This would be fabulous if you make your own stock, or if you have some bouillon at home, you could always use that in place of the pre-packaged stock.

This was my shortest demo yet!  The soup only lasted an hour –  it was a mob scene a few times around the demo table, and before I knew it the soup was gone (I did manage to save a sample for Jean, who was upstairs tallying all the ballots from our Board of Directors election).

Carrot Ginger Soup

April Meal of the Month – Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger Soup

Recipe courtesy Jean Rogers.


  • 3 –4 T butter/margarine
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c finely chopped fresh ginger root
  • 3 –4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 16 oz chicken or veggie broth
  • 4 c water (or substitute 5-7 c of homemade stock and omit store bought broth)
  • 1 c dry white wine or hard cider (optional)
  • 5 –7 carrots (1 1/2 –2 lbs), peeled and cut into 1/2” chunks
  • ~2 T fresh lemon or lime juice (1 small lemon)
  • Pinch curry powder (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 Avenue Bread Rosemary Loavette
  • Optional Garnish —chopped Italian Parsley or Coriander (cilantro), and/or a dollop of yogurt in each bowl.


  1. Melt butter/margarine over medium heat in stock pot.
  2. Sauté onion, ginger and garlic for 15-20 minutes (try not to brown the mix) in stockpot.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add stock, water, wine/cider (if using) and carrots.  Heat to boiling and then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 45 minutes, until carrots are tender.  (If you simmer without a lid, check from time to time in case you need to add more water).
  4. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.  Purée in blender or food processor (see note) or with immersion blender, and season to taste with the lemon or lime juice, salt, pepper and (optional) curry powder.
  5. Serve with or without the optional garnishes, and with the bread.


  • Never fill a blender or food processor with boiling hot liquid —it will explode out the top and burn you!  Always let it cool slightly and never fill more than half full.  Put the lid on (but not tightly), and cover the lid with a dry towel.  Be sure to “burp” the lid.  Use the slowest speed possible.  Puree in batches.
  • This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd.
  • Optional ingredients may bring the cost over $10.
  • To peel ginger, use the edge of a spoon.
  • You can also add a bouillon cube for more intense flavor.

Carrot Ginger Soup PDF

White Bean, Chard and Emmer (Farro) Soup

My husband recently challenged me to find recipes that use ingredients from as many departments in the Co-op as possible to demo in the store (I will admit that he had an ulterior motive for this since he is the Grocery Manager at the Cordata co-op).  Recently, the Member Affairs Committee had a retreat meeting at Ciao Thyme Catering, and they had a bunch of back issues of Edible Seattle that they offered up to us.  I took a few because I thought that they might have some great NW recipes in them, and indeed, that is where I found my challenge winning recipe!  It was published in the March/April 2009 edition, and it made my mouth water just reading the recipe.

White Bean, Red Chard and Emmer soup was a winner for many reasons.  It has ingredients that can be found locally in season, with the exception of the white beans, olive oil, and tomato paste (chicken stock can be made from WA chickens in your own kitchen).  This recipe has ingredients from six departments in the Co-op, which is why it was the winner:

  • Salmon Creek Farms pork shoulder from the Meat Department
  • Dry white wine, of course from the Wine Department (this gave the soup an intoxicating aroma!)
  • Tomato paste and chicken stock from Grocery
  • Organic red chard, carrots, celery, yellow onion, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and local garlic from Produce
  • Parmesan cheese from the Deli Cheese department (for garnish, yum!  I love the Reggiano from Italy the best)
  • Emmer and white beans from Bulk

Emmer is a pretty cool grain that most of us don’t have much knowledge of – it is an heirloom wheat variety that is grown by the Lucy family on Bluebird Grain Farm in the beautiful Methow Valley.  Emmer, or Farro as it is called in Italy, is a low-gluten, high protein wheat whose structure is so different from modern wheat that many people with wheat/gluten sensitivities can eat it (every body is different, and if you have Celiac or a high gluten-intolerance, you shouldn’t eat this grain).  I have only been “off the gluten” for a little over two months, so I won’t be trying Emmer myself for at least another six months or so, but I am excited at the prospect of being able to use the flour in baking if I am able to tolerate it!

I was told that the Emmer was a great addition to the soup because it “popped” when you bit into it and added good dimension.  I got very favorable responses from customers on the flavor of the soup, and its use of ingredients (did I mention the intoxicating aroma?).  One person said it was one of the best soups they had ever tasted, and another customer was floored because her husband (who doesn’t like chard) was enjoying his hearty sample!  All in all I say it was a great success with everyone.  You can easily make this vegetarian – just omit the pork shoulder and use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock.

photo white bean chard emmer farro soup

White Bean, Chard, and Emmer Soup © 2010 Sassy Sampler

White Bean, Red Chard, and Emmer Soup


  • 1 pound pork shoulder, chopped into 1” stew pieces
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2T olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped into half moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1T chopped fresh thyme
  • 1T chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1T tomato paste
  • 1 1/2c dry white wine
  • 8 c chicken/vegetable stock (not broth)
  • 1/2c emmer/farro grain (or short grain brown rice for GF)
  • 1c white beans, soaked overnight, or 2 cans white beans (I used Westbrae Great Northern Beans in my demo and they were great)
  • 1 bunch red chard (about 3/4 lb), chopped into 1” pieces (see below for instructions)
  • 1/2c chopped fresh parsley
  • grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat.  Season the pork pieces with salt and pepper.  When the pot is hot, add 1T of the oil, then add the pork and cook until browned on all sides, turning pieces only when they release easily from the pan.  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining T of oil to the pan, then add the onion, celery, and carrots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and tomato paste, season with salt and pepper, and stir for a minute or two.  Add the white wine, and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the stock, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the emmer (or rice), beans, chard, and reserved pork, and cook at a bare simmer, covered, at least one hour and up to three, until the grain, beans, and pork are tender.
  4. Before serving, stir in the parsley, and season to taste.  Serve the soup in big bowls with hunks of bread (or the Swan Bakery’s yummy GF rolls), garnished with Parmesan cheese and a swirl of good olive oil.

Vegetarian Version:

Skip step one, and add all the oil at the beginning.

To Prepare Red Swiss Chard for cooking:

  1. Wash chard thoroughly—two to three times.
  2. Slice chard along both sides of the stem and discard.
  3. Fold leaves in half, then fold them in half again (lengthwise) and cut into 1” pieces.

p.s.  I made the most amazing beef stew this weekend with the frozen, local, grass-fed beef from Bennett Cattle Company in Everson and some delicious gluten-free biscuits with the Swan Bakery’s Gluten Free Mix in bulk – expect a demo, or at least the recipes in the future!