When Marcia Moore serves you lunch, your taste buds sit up and take note.
In May, the teacher was one of the cooks on the Malibu Cook's Tour, an annual event that showcases fabulous local kitchens and features a different menu at each stop.
Moore made and served lentil salad, eggplant caponata, a little green salad and a charming cream cheese blueberry tartlet to finish. It was all vegetarian and all delicious. I lingered there far longer than I was supposed to.
I was dreaming about her lentil salad the other day when it was too hot to make a complicated meal. I just wanted those lentils on a bed of fresh greens, and I knew I would be a happy camper.
Moore is happy to share her recipes. She's been cooking and feeding people for as long as she can remember.
As one of the founders of the Malibu Cook's Tour, which raises funds for scholarships to , she was not only instrumental 25 years ago in getting it started, but also in its continuing success. Moore has often cooked at the event throughout the years.
"My youngest child is 28 years old, and it was started when he was in the nursery school [at Malibu Methodist]," Moore said. "All the money we raise goes to support scholarships for the school—for those who can't pay for daycare or nursery school."
Moore's children have grown up, but she continues to be passionate about the school and its mission.
Although she moved away from Malibu in the mid-1990s and now lives in Mar Vista, Moore has deep ties to the city. She began her 26-year teaching career at Malibu Methodist, and then worked at and as an art teacher. After taking a year off, she went to work as an art teacher at New Roads, where she remains 17 years later.
Come to think of it, her lentils are a work of art.
"I like to cook," Moore said. "I would call it a hobby more than anything else, but once you've worked on the tour as a cook, you know how to do it. It's not rocket science. You choose things people like to eat, and you portion it correctly so you don't run out of food."
She also thinks the food offerings on the tour should reflect the kitchens and the homes that are being showcased, and can rattle off her favorites from the past.
"One really great Spanish house one year, we did tapas," Moore said. "Then we had a little farmhouse, so everything we did was based on apples. It just had that look. The house we had on the first Cook's Tour had a built-in wok range in the kitchen and the homeowner loved Chinese food and was a wonderful cook. We made dumplings and shu mai."
Moore continued, "One house was a modern contemporary, streamlined home, and we did a goat cheese flan and a little salad. And then there was the house where the woman had a menagerie of birds and dogs, and we did a vegetarian menu. We did grilled vegetables and rhubarb crisp, and we couldn't keep people away from that crisp."
Well, I can't stay away from the lentil salad. With the warm weather we still have, this would make a perfect patio buffet offering or potluck dish. It has no mayo or other ingredients to spoil, and it is perfect at room temperature, so it can sit out without incident.
Marcia Moore's Lentils de Puy with Mustard Vinaigrette
Cook 2 cups of green lentils as directed on package until done, but not mushy. Drain. (This will yield something like 5 ½ cups of cooked lentils.)
While still warm, dress lentils with:
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 or 2 shallots, diced finely
A splash of good red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, stemmed and chopped
Serve warm or at room temperature.
This article was originally published on Malibu Patch.