Hosting a dinner and not sure what to make? Go with lasagna.
“It’s the meal that will please the most people in the country,” celebrity chef Ricardo Larrivée said.
It’s one of the Food Network star’s recent findings. He’s a huge household name in Quebec and wanted to expand his foodie following across Canada, so he decided to survey over 3,000 Canadians about their eating habits, with the help of Leger Marketing.
The national survey found a few interesting tidbits. For instance, families spend an average of $167 a week on groceries and grocery shop twice a week.
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A majority (62 per cent) of Canadians frequently consult flyers but only a third (35 per cent) use the grocery store coupons in-store. Consumers on the Atlantic coast are most frugal, while Albertans spend more on food bills than any other province in the country.
Women are the ones who usually do the grocery shopping — except for in Quebec, where men dominate the grocery aisles. Quebec men (along with those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba) help with dishes more than those in other regions, as well.
A couple other things you may not have known about Quebecers: they don’t cook pumpkin, Larrivée said, and they cook a big chicken for Thanksgiving. Turkey is reserved for Christmas.
The French province is also where people spend more time at the table and drink the most wine with their food. Ontarians enjoy the least family table time and wine-pairing, but have the most cooking confidence.
“They have the most self-esteem in the kitchen. They are convinced they know,” Larrivée said.
The rushed life (and traffic) of Toronto means residents tend to eat later (around 7 p.m.) than the rest of the country. The more relaxed Atlantic provinces sit down to dinner the earliest.
On the opposite coast, you’re likely to find the most vegetarians. British Columbians are all about the fish, beans, legumes and tofu. They love organic food, according to Larrivée.
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“If you look at Alberta, they are the kingpin for slow cookers.”
Here are a few more of Chef Ricardo’s food findings, along with a recipe for his Slow Cooker Lasagna (sure to please Albertans and the rest of Canada).
Slow Cooker Lasagna Recipe
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 4 hours
1 lb (454 g) Italian-style sausage meat, mild or spicy (about 4)1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated1 stalk celery, finely chopped4 oz (115 g) mushrooms, finely chopped2 cloves garlic, finely chopped4 cups (1 litre) tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought12 uncooked lasagna noodles1 cup (250 ml) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese1 container 475 g ricotta cheese1 1/2 cups (375 ml) grated mozzarella cheeseSalt and pepper
- In a bowl, combine the sausage, carrot, celery, mushrooms and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Spread 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the tomato sauce at the bottom of the slow cooker. Cover with a layer of noodles. Feel free to break them, if necessary.Cover with one third of the meat mixture. Cover with 250 ml (1 cup) of tomato sauce and sprinkle with 75 ml (1/3 cup) of Parmesan cheese. Cover with a layer of noodles and add the ricotta cheese.Follow with a layer of noodles. Add one third of the meat mixture. Cover with 250 ml (1 cup) of tomato sauce and sprinkle with 75 ml (1/3 cup) of Parmesan cheese.Cover with noodles and repeat with the remaining meat, 250 ml (1 cup) of tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Finish with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.Cover and cook on low for about 4 hours.
Depending on the type of slow cooker, cooking time may vary. When the pasta is tender with the tip of a knife, the lasagna is ready. Larrivée does not recommend keeping the lasagna in the waiting mode (WARM) after cooking; the pasta will become too soft.
For more of Larrivée’s recipes and the full food survey, look for the spring issue of the RICARDO magazine on newsstands now.
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