The 2nd Year and a Roast Carrot, Lentil & Avocado Salad

by Michael on September 20, 2012 · 20 comments

It was a little over two years ago when my wife suggested I start a food blog. My food background and love for food runs deep and she figured it would be the perfect venue for my writing and a great space to document new recipes and stories. It made perfect sense really. It was precisely two years ago today that I sat down at my desk and recapped the following night’s dinner party held at our house. I went through course by course and included a few pictures. I quickly looked over it and hit publish and sat back. I’m not sure what I thought would happen back then but I didn’t envision year 2 and the things to come. Good and bad.

At times it’s been trying. But worth every self-doubt lingering in my mind. At times I hit blocks. Other times I contemplated putting this little space on the web to rest. It became a chore, almost a burden too much for me to handle because it started to feel like work. And for one fleeting moment, I lost my love for the process and the journey. Mainly because I stopped looking at it with the same eyes of affection I had at the beginning. It’s not about numbers or stats or anything like that. It’s about sharing my love for food and the stories that happen in my life because of it.  It is about making food that you’ll enjoy and share with your loved ones. And it’s about you. All of you that have left such kind comments over these years and keep coming back.

I never knew this community was as big and supportive as it is. I have met some great people because of it. Everyone looks out for each other and supports one another, through loss and love and success and failures. I’m just thankful I’m part of such a great group of people. And I’m thankful my wife set me on this course two years ago. And for supporting me all the way here. Like she does.

Thank you.

Now that the dawn of fall is upon us and the brisk days and cool nights have become routine, it felt fitting to make something both healthy and warming. Changes come in all forms. And right now I see change all around me. At the markets, nearby farmhouses, my neighbourhood and the trails and paths that run through this small city. And it was felt hours away and a province away on our recent trip. The leaves littered the ground everywhere we went and the colours underwent a transformation, the first of many.

We decided to get away for a week last week. We hit the open road for Ottawa and spent a couple of nights sightseeing, taking in a concert and shooting a maternity session. Then we followed the beautiful landscape to the mountains a couple of hours north of Montreal. We spent a couple of days in a chalet high atop the Laurentians where the air was pure and the scenery breathtaking. And then, for our last couple of days, we stayed in Montreal, exploring the shopping district, eateries and the beauty and charm of Old Montreal. And all the while we indulged.

So after that journey was complete, we were both exhausted and full from the memories created with each other. And we needed some exercise and good, nutritious food. After we settled in and felt the need for some exercise and time with nature. We hit the trails and spent some time recollecting. It felt like the perfect opportunity to make a salad like this.

We had just returned from a walk through the fields out back and the chill outside had crept its way inside through the cracks in the window foundation. We threw on warm sweaters and I turned on the stove. I grabbed some heirloom carrots picked locally and roasted them. The warmth from the oven and the aroma slipping out were the perfect answer to a day like this. While the oven was at work I washed some fresh arugula and mescaline, warmed up some lentils on hand and allowed the goat cheese to soften. I cut up some avocado wedges and pulled some sprouts and then started on the dressing, a simple roasted orange vinaigrette.

By the time the carrots were out, the house started to gain some of the residual warmth left from the oven. I let them cool slightly and then plated everything. We sat over our kitchen table and looked out back to see the leaves slowly falling end over end to the ground below. Fall has come early. And we’re both prepared and ready. Arms wide open.

Included are just a few photos from our recent trip. Thanks, as always, for dropping in.

From my kitchen to yours,

Thank you.


Roast Carrot, Lentil & Avocado Salad


  • 1/2 pound heirloom carrots, quartered
  • kosher salt & cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 orange, halved
  • 1 avocado, ripened and cut into wedges
  • 3 cups mixed salad leaves (mescaline & arugula), washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sprouts
  • 1/4 cup lentils, cooked 
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Combine the smoked paprika, salt & pepper, garlic and rosemary leaves in a pestle and smash until you have a thick paste. Add in the sherry vinegar the olive oil and juice from half the orange and the zest. Combine and set aside. 
  3. Place the carrots in a roasting pan and pour the marinade over top, stirring until all the carrots are coated. Place the two orange halves in the pan for the dressing. Place in the oven and cook for roughly 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and let cool slightly.
  4. To build the salad, start with 4 carrots on the bottom. Using your hands, grab a small handful of the salad mixture and place over the middle of the carrots. Top with a couple avocado edges, some sprouts and some lentils. Sprinkle some crumbled goat cheese over top and place one final avocado wedge over top. Pour some of  your vinaigrette dressing over top and serve. Repeat for the next plate.
  5. Serves 2.
Orange Vinaigrette Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. orange juice (from the roasted orange)
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a mason jar and close the lid tightly. Shake until combined. Keep in fridge until needed. 


Leave a Comment

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

natalie@thesweetslife September 21, 2012 at 8:29 am

I used to go to Ottawa for business all the time and as soon as I saw the pictures in this post I recognized the city! Congrats on another great year of blogging–I love coming to this site and enjoying both the recipes and the words that accompany them!


Michael September 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Thanks Natalie! I hadn’t been to Ottawa in years and forgot how beautiful it is. And thank you for the kind words and for dropping in again!


Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic September 21, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Happy blog anniversary! It goes by so quick, doesn’t it? I’m looking forward to reading more in the coming years :)


La Cuisine d'Hélène September 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Congratulations on 2 yrs. Blogging is not easy at times, but don’t feel the pressure to post if you don’t feel like it. It should be something you enjoy doing. You came to Ottawa, it’s where I live now. Nice city.


Kristen {bites & sights} September 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Congratulations on your two year blog anniversary!


Brian September 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Happy blog anniversary! So happy for you! Your trip sounded amazing and this salad looks fabulous!


Martha in KS September 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Mike, thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. I need to visit Canada soon!


Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen September 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

Congrats on two years and here’s to many more to come. It’s always a pleasure coming here, your words and your photos are both truly beautiful.


Denise September 24, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I am happy that you have not put this space to rest. I love taking a break during the day to read about what is happening up North or to hear stories of the past. Keep writing, cooking and of course shooting. Happy 2nd.


Cookin' Canuck September 24, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Two year – congratulations! You always exude such joy for the little things in life and for that reason, as well as your gorgeous pictures, mouth-watering recipes and engaging writing, I always enjoy visiting your blog. Thank you for sharing it with all of us.

I was born in Ottawa, but haven’t been back for many years. My aunt and uncle just moved there, so I am hoping to make the journey and spend some time getting to know the city.


Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 30, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Congrats on 2 years of blogging… So glad that you decided to start writing a blog, because I certainly love reading it! It’s always a pleasure. And, this post is no different. Love the look of that salad, too.


sippitysup October 1, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Gorgeous carrots. Delicious sentiments. GREG


Alice @ Hip Foodie Mom October 2, 2012 at 10:42 am

OMG, I love all of your photos! so beautiful . . you capture the essence of Montreal, love it. Your wife is awesome for having encouraged you to start this blog. . I just found it today!
I just started mine at the end of last year and have been REALLY putting time into it just recently. . love what you said about it not being about the numbers or stats but about sharing your love for food and the stories that happen in your life. Word. nicely said.


nicole October 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

New to your site, but just wanted to say ‘congrats’ on 2 years, and I’m so glad I stumbled across this url! Your words, and photos, are just lovely. Thank you for sharing.


Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings October 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm

This is quite the awesome Fall salad! Will definitely try making this at home :)


Kathleen November 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

BEAUTIFUL prose, photographs and food! Thank you for your passion and for taking the time!! It is appreciated


Michael November 5, 2012 at 11:20 pm

thanks so much for the lovely comment!


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