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Kristen Hahn

Kristen Hahn

Kristen Hahn enjoys stepping into the kitchen to create a meal.

The actress said her mother was an exceptional cook, and she learned a lot from her.

"I grew up at her side being her sous chef," Hahn said. Hahn is currently starring as Minnie Fay in "Hello Dolly," running through Nov. 17, at Chicago's Oriental Theatre. FYI: Visit BroadwayInChicago.com for more information.

"She was excellent at looking at something (such as a comfort food) and putting a healthy spin on it," Hahn said. "We're also big on herbs and spices in our family."

Hahn said she was always interested in healthful eating.

"It was ingrained in me at an early age," the actress said. Hahn said she actually views healthful recipes as "comfort" food. Among  favorite dishes she likes to make  are glazed salmon and a lentil and vegetable salad.

When Hahn goes out to eat, she looks for farm-to-table restaurants. Mediterranean fare also is a favorite.

"Italian is my weakness," she said. Hahn said she also enjoys a good pancake.

Prior to coming to Chicago for "Hello Dolly," Hahn said she was "already looking up places in anticipation of being in Chicago. "

When Hahn is at home, she cooks most every night. "It feels relaxing to me," Hahn said. The actress said while she was growing up, it was important for her family to have dinner together.

"We talked about the goings on of the day and connected with each other," she said. Hahn said her "tour family" has also become like extended family to her, and they occasionally share meals together.

"Sharing a meal with someone is another way to bond," she said.

The following recipe for a healthful lentil salad is from Hahn.

Lentil and Caramelized Vegetable Salad with Goat Cheese

 Dice the following into 1/8 inch cubes:

2 stalks celery

1 small red pepper

2 large carrots

2 large shallots

Sauté these vegetables in a pan on medium-low heat with a drizzle of olive oil to coat until vegetables are caramelized.

Push the caramelized veggies to the side of the pan. Add another quarter-sized drop of olive oil to the center of the pan and sauté 2 cloves of small-diced garlic for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove from heat and set aside the pan of veggies.

Next, make the vinaigrette by whisking together the following ingredients in a large glass or metal mixing bowl:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of salt & pepper to taste

Combine 1 cup lentils with 4 cups of low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth in a large pot. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-22 minutes, or until lentils are tender and cooked through but not mushy. They should hold their shape.

Drain lentils and throw them into the mixing bowl with the vinaigrette. Add the caramelized veggies and garlic into the bowl as well and mix all together. Now, add some chopped parsley and fresh rosemary (or whatever herbs you like) and some crumbled goat cheese on top, and voilà — lentil salad! Enjoy!

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.