A birthday picnic menu, a lentil salad, & a short journey in the future

It is April 2055. I have just celebrated my 80th birthday. I am sitting on a bench at dusk, reading this poem. And like Alice in Wonderland, I plunge into the rabbit hole that is memory lane.  I think of you, my son, love of my life, and that night 42 years ago, that night before we celebrated your 2nd birthday. It was the night before the storm, the whirlwind of party preparations, cooking and more cooking side by side with my mother, planning and organizing, listing and anticipating. The night before the cheers, the laughter, the hugs and songs, I remember a moment of calm, before the festivities, everyone asleep; I took in that moment, with all its thoughts, and tucked it away in a hidden treasure box, close to my heart. Tonight, I can open that box and treasure it once again. This moment of gratitude, of love, of acknowledgement of my life transformed for the better, of the many lessons already learned thanks to you, this moment of realization there really was so much to celebrate. Life is full of these treasure boxes. This one, I shall leave out, open, as it radiates the tranquil warmth that is the meaning of my life.

Menu for Pablo’s birthday party/picnic/bbq at the park

Four savory cakes (they could also be called “breads” or loaves): mixed herbs; ham & green olives; goat cheese, walnut, raisins; asparagus mushrooms.

Chicken gouda muffins

Ratatouille feta muffins

Tray of crudités (carrots, cucumber, tomatoes), with hummus and creamy feta dip with mint parsley pesto

This leeks, feta, lemon quiche with homemade spelt cream cheese crust

French-style grated carrot & parsley salad

Mixed quinoa salad (with beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives…)

Lentil shallot salad (recipe below)

Potato salad

Cheese platter with homemade bread

And some hamburgers too 🙂

Chocolate cake made by my good friend Elleni at Deer Eats Wolf

Fresh fruit platter

Lentil shallot salad

This very simple recipe is a staple in our family, we have it almost every week. It can be made ahead and keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. It’s an easy first course, and so delicious.

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Age for babies: 10-12 months (avoiding the raw crunchy shallots)

12 oz Du Puy Lentils (or green lentils)
1 onion
4 cloves (optional)
4 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large shallot
Dill for garnish (optional, substitute any herb you like or have on hand)

2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp walnut oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper

Rinse the lentils in a colander. In a large pot, place the lentils, the whole onion (pricked with cloves if using), whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, the thyme leaves and enough water so the onion is immersed.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. (Taste for consistency, should be soft but not mushy).

Meanwhile, prepare your dressing by combining all the ingredients and reserve in a bowl.
Dice the shallot.

Drain the lentils, discard the onion and bay leaves. Let cool to room temperature.

Then add the shallots and dressing, and combine. Add dill for garnish if desired.

Serve cold or at room temperature.