Your Reading List

Food Day in Canada

RecipeSwap: Lentils and Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Spinach and Goat Cheese, Barbecue Sauce, Wild Cranberry Vinaigrette, Prairie Spice Cake

Food Day in Canada

Ever wondered why we get to spend next Monday sleeping in, watching parades, and setting off fireworks? We have Toronto City Hall — no, not the current installation — to thank.

Way back in 1869, the council of the day decided everybody needed “a day of recreation” and declared the first Monday of August a civic holiday.

Eventually, another bunch of guys stuffed into suits in far-away England’s House of Commons heard about it, and thought that a pretty good idea. Two years later, they declared their own bank holiday on the same date.

In Canada, most provinces eventually adopted the first Monday of August as their civic holiday.

More recently, a well-known food writer in Canada has called on Canadians to make the Saturday of the long weekend a feast day.

You may recall how, back in 2003, Ontario-based Anita Stewart got us pumped to take part in a big nationwide backyard affair she called the World’s Longest Barbecue, in support of the BSE-beleaguered Canadian beef industry, held on the August long weekend.

She eventually changed its name to Food Day in Canada, but her challenge each year remains — use this date to have a distinctly Canadian meal.

The whole idea is to celebrate the food we grow and eat wherever we live, says Anita. We already do. This weekend is feast day for a cold country, a high point of summer that often involves gatherings of friends and family around a barbecue to grill our favourite meat and fish, and feast on the fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables in season.

“This is the weekend that Canadians are celebrating their own food because the harvest is coming in everywhere,” says Anita.

This lady knows what she’s talking about. A prolific writer, cookbook author and speaker, Anita Stewart has literally eaten her way across the country. Ask what’s for dinner in the tiniest outpost of Newfoundland, or the remotest village in northern B.C. and she’ll know. She’s been there.

I checked out her Food Day in Canada website to see what she’s inspiring others to do this year.

One post from B.C. says they plan to put the “Brit” into British Columbia this weekend, serving Victoria gin cocktails, with B.C.-raised beef roasted on the grill, alongside chilled minted pea soup and homegrown berry trifle.

  • More Recipe Swap: The flat iron steak

At a farmers’ market in Halifax they’ve organized a Prix Fix (a multi-course meal served at a fixed price) that includes Atlantic scallops and blueberry tarts. A tree-planting crew’s cook in northern Ontario plans to serve a Mile High Black Fly Pie. Farm and Food Care will have 2,000 people sit down to Ontario’s Breakfast on the Farm in Avonmore, Ont.

You get the idea. You may also be turning the page about now. If you’re like me, this is the one holiday of the year when we don’t need to shop, plan or cook.

But here’s the thing. Most of us will probably sit down to a good feed this weekend. Maybe it includes a sizzling steak from your own grass-fed beef, or a favourite salad from your garden, or a dessert from the berries from the nearest U-pick. At any rate, whatever you’re eating likely is mostly homegrown.

Food Day in Canada is about all of that, and only that. Tell Anita about it. She’s hoping Manitobans will join with fellow food lovers across the rest of Canada to swap some recipes, and post the weekend supper menu details on her website. Find out more about Food Day in Canada plus its links to Facebook and Twitter on its website which has lots of great recipes to check out.

Here’s a few to get a taste.

Lentils and Barley Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Spinach and Goat Cheese

For the Salad

  • 1/2 c. dry green lentils
  • 1/2 c. pot or pearl barley
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 4-6 roasted or sun-dried tomato halves, sliced or left whole
  • 1 packed c. fresh spinach or Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 c. crumbled soft goat cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 c. walnut halves or pieces, toasted
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1/4 c. canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 c. balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup or honey

In a pot of boiling water, cook the lentils, barley and garlic clove for 40-45 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, combine the cooled lentils and barley, tomatoes and spinach. Shake up the dressing ingredients in a small jar or whisk in a bowl; pour overtop and toss to coat. Divide among shallow bowls and crumble goat cheese evenly over each; top with toasted walnuts and a grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes 3-4 servings.

Source: Canadian Lentils

Barbecue Sauce

Whatever you’re grilling this weekend, this barbecue sauce recipe will make it extra tasty. If you’ve got lots of mouths to feed, double or triple it.

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. ketchup
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Tabasco or to taste

In a saucepan heat canola oil over medium-high heat and sauté onion for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add brown sugar and continue to cook, stirring for 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes.

Yield: 2 cups.

Serving Size: 2 tbsp.

Source: CanolaInfo

Wild Cranberry Vinaigrette

Wild cranberries are foraged all across Canada’s north. If you can’t find wild, substitute commercially grown berries.

  • 1/2 c. wild cranberries
  • 1/2 c. red wine or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. liquid honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine cranberries, vinegar, canola oil, honey, cumin, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Great on mixed greens.

Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

Source: CanolaInfo

Prairie Spice Cake

This chewy cake can also be made in a fluted 8-cup (4-l) bundt pan.

  • 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour or multi-grain flour
  • 1/4 c. barley flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. flax
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. ground flax
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 2 eggs1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. honey
  • 1-1/2 c. lentil purée*
  • 1/2 c. raisins1/2 c. chopped dates

Broiler Icing

  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. margarine
  • 2 tbsp. cream or milk
  • 1/4 c. coconut
  • 1/4 c. walnuts or pecans

In bowl combine rolled oats, whole wheat flour, barley flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda, flax, baking powder and ground flax.

In another bowl mix together canola oil, eggs, vanilla extract, honey and 1 cup lentil purée. Mix and add remaining 1/2 cup of lentil purée. Combine flour mixture, raisins and dates to lentil purée. Spread mixture into a 9×13-inch cake pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes in 350 F oven. Ice with Broiler Icing.

To make icing: Combine all ingredients together in small saucepan. Heat and stir until hot and sugar is dissolved. Spread over cake. Return to oven until it bubbles well, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Yield: 16 servings.

*To Make Lentil Purée: Wash lentils. In a saucepan cover lentils with 3-3/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer until lentils are tender about 40 to 50 minutes. Drain, reserving the stock. Blend lentils, adding enough stock to make purée the consistency of canned pumpkin. As purée forms, stop and mix often until purée is smooth.

Source: CanolaInfo

About the author


Lorraine Stevenson

Lorraine Stevenson is a reporter and photographer for the Manitoba Co-operator with 25 years experience writing news and features. She was previously a reporter with the Farmers Independent Weekly and has also written for community newspapers in Winnipeg and Manitoba's Interlake.



Stories from our other publications