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Artful Food with Lauren Lane Culinarian

How She Followed Her Passion + Burst Into the Local Culinary Scene at Age 50

Lauren Lane Culinarian is an auburn-haired dynamo who refuses to be frozen in amber. Only two years ago at age 50, she burst forth into our kitchens as a bold new brand whose warm presence felt right at home. 

After 25 years in the corporate world at Hallmark, she quit her job and followed her passion into the culinary arts. With no formal chef training, Lauren Lane Culinarian was born. She’s cooked at the KC Taste Event alongside professional chefs and celebrities. She’s exploded onto social media as a natural-born influencer. Her food creations, recipes and entertaining secrets are as bodacious as her charcuterie boards; yet simple, practical, accessible, thrifty and lovely—just like she is. 

“It’s never too late to reinvent your life,” Lauren says. “If you love doing something, then do it. A lot. Then figure out a way to do it more, and success will follow.”

And it is. Hired for the second year as a brand ambassador for KC’s own Cervasi (Italian food/products), Lauren has taught at the Culinary Institute, hosts sold-out dinner parties, makes TV and press appearances and often travels as a personal chef, sourcing markets in Insta-worthy locales. 

Constantly honing her skills in blogging, photography, food styling and recipe development, Lauren rises early to keep up with the speed of her thoughts because her goal is to slow down that evening with her husband, friends or guests over delicious food and wine.

“Our friends always know my kitchen is open, and food will be served with laughter and love,” Lauren says. “My all-time favorite compliment was ‘Hospitality is love in action, and your home exuded that tonight…we all left better than we came in.’” 

At first, Lauren didn’t know how to run a business, create a brand, or become an influencer, but she took classes, researched, and made mistakes—learning to leverage her art degree and creative/marketing experience from Hallmark as she built her website, shot professional photos and blogged. She now loves the creative freedom to work from anywhere, to choose daily inspirations and to pursue business relationships that feel right.   

Her favorite memories always involve food and loved ones, including her mom’s pot roast Sunday suppers—especially meaningful since Lauren’s mother passed at Thanksgiving. “I cherish those memories. They led me to my current profession.”

Lauren’s dream is to someday cook with Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa (“What a wealth of knowledge!”) Or maybe have a TV show… dream big, right? Till then, Lauren is working on her own product line, book and videos, aligning her brand with compatible companies and considering how to broadcast her cooking classes to reach more people.

To banish negativity, Lauren meditates daily, quieting herself to get clarity. 

“I believe that I was created for a specific purpose (I think we all are) to share my talents and passions with others. I absolutely deep down believe that the next great thing is right around the corner.”

Instagram: @lauren_lane_culinarian
Facebook: Lauren Lane Culinarian

 “I’m proof that it’s possible to reinvent yourself, start over and follow your passion.”

8-Minute Salmon with Warm Orzo Salad (serves 4)

Orzo Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Cervasi recommended)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups orzo (Cervasi recommended)
  • 2 ounces fresh baby spinach or baby kale (about 3 cups not packed)
  • 1 ½ cups roasted cubed butternut squash or substitute other roasted vegetables - Brussel sprouts, carrots, broccoli or grape tomatoes.
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, chopped dates or raisins
  • ½ cup pine nuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) crumbled goat cheese or feta

Salmon

Ingredients

  • 4 5-ounce skinless salmon fillets
  • Olive oil, for coating fish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chopped green onions (green part only) for garnish

Method

In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar, green onions and garlic together. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook, stirring often for about 8 minutes or until tender.

Drain the orzo in a sieve and toss the warm orzo, spinach, vegetables, cranberries and pine nuts (if using) with the vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper. The heat of the orzo will wilt the spinach slightly. 

Mound the salad in the center of a large serving platter or four dinner plates. Sprinkle with the goat cheese. Top with the salmon, sprinkle with the green onions and serve.

For the Salmon

Preheat broiler and set oven rack to 6 inches below broiler element.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or coat baking sheet with olive oil.

Season salmon over surface and sides with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Broil salmon until browned on top and the center registers about 125 degrees F. for medium-rare to medium, approximately 5-8 minutes depending on oven temperatures. If salmon becomes well browned on top before finished cooking, set oven to 425 degrees F. and continue cooking until done (approximately 1-2 minutes).

Leek and Spinach Frittata

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Cervasi recommended)
  • 1 cup chopped leeks (white and green parts only) halved lengthwise, sliced 1 ½ inch thick and rinsed
  • 3 cups chopped spinach or kale, not packed
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled goat cheese (Cervasi recommended)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Add olive-oil to oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté leeks for about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, lightly beat together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables once they are tender. Sprinkle goat cheese and parmesan over the top.

Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake until the top is lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Ovens vary so check to see if the eggs are cuffed and set. It’s okay if the middle of the frittata still has a little jiggle to it—the eggs will continue to cook for several minutes once you remove from the oven. Slice and serve warm.

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Cervasi recommended)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons basil, dried
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can white kidney (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 parmesan rinds (optional)
  • 7-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup small pasta soup shells, dry (Cervasi recommended)
  • 4 large handfuls of spinach or kale, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped (optional but delish)
  • Italian crusty bread loaf for serving

Method

Preheat large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot on low-medium heat. Swirl olive oil in bottom of pan to coat. Add onion, celery and garlic. Sauté until tender, stirring occasionally

Add next 11 ingredients and stir. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low for 30-45 minutes. Add pasta and cook for additional 5-8 minutes. Remove the parmesan rinds. 

Remove from heat. Scoop 2 cups of soup from the bottom of the pot and blend until smooth. Return blended soup to the pot. This will make the whole pot of soup creamy. Skip this step for a non-creamy soup. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender and place it in into the whole pot and blend briefly.

Add spinach or kale, parsley and basil. Adjust seasoning to taste. It will likely need more salt. 

Serve hot with shredded Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and crunchy bread

Lauren's Tip

To serve this soup for easy entertaining, make the soup the day before and reheat it before your guests arrive. Serve with a simple green salad, bread and don’t forget the pretty garnish and a lovely bottle of wine. Buy a simple dessert and this is a great and inexpensive way to have a dinner with your friends. This soup will get very thick when refrigerated. Add more stock or water to thin if needed.

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