HE Prairie provinces are underappreciated in Canada,” says food writer and documentary food photographer CJ Katz. “We don’t rah-rah and toot our own horns, and that might be part of it.” so cooks can take advantage of farmers’ markets and gardens.
“It’s a non-traditional approach to Prairie cooking,” Katz explains. “You won’t find perogies and cabbage rolls.” The starting point is Prairie produce. “It’s very ingredient-driven. I look at the ingredients and try to do something fresh.”
Alberta beef becomes Korean flank steak, and tender Prairie lamb gets Middle Eastern flavours in orange-spiced kebabs. Bison, which Katz adores for its leanness and flavour, gets cooked up in a stirfry. Sweet strawberries are finished with balsamic vinegar and pepper. Spelt and hemp give a nutritional kick to favourite cookies.
Katz adds some in-depth research into food history and cooking lore. (Fun facts: Evidence of lentils dates to a Greek cave as far back as 11,000 BCE. The saskatoon berry is also called the serviceberry. Many of the wild mushrooms in our boreal forests end up on the tables of highend restaurants in Europe and Japan.)
“I love Prairie cooking. I love the wholesomeness,” says Katz. “This is the centre of Canada. This is where it’s grown.” To celebrate the rich and various tastes of our prairie harvest, here are three autumnal recipes from Taste: