Our Chef's Dinner last week with Chef Maria Clementi was full of flavorful vegetable dishes that reflect spring's bounty of produce. Her dinner was a great way of bridging the gap between healthy eating and a flavorful, indulgent meal out.
Just from cursory conversations, it seems like quite a few of us are caught between wanting to feel better from eating healthier, and wanting to enjoy a rich, exciting cruise to flavortown (tm). The really nice thing about Maria's vegetarian dinner was that it played with flavor, texture and scent to offer a novelty experience to any diner, whether they are focused on increasing whole foods in their diet, or simply looking for an interesting course of small plates to try for a new hours.
The meal started off with some stuffed griddle breads, which I had a hand in prepping ahead of time. These breads were rolled out thin, stuffed with a delicious tuber and scallion filling and then rolled out again. These, along with some scratch-made sourdough were served with an assortment of pickles and relishes, made from smoked almonds and beets, for example.
Sweet Potato-Stuffed Griddle Bread
Additional courses included purple rice fritters over grilled ramps and fiddleheads, grilled trumpet mushrooms with edible flowers, and white asparagus with a poached egg and truffle salt.
Fiddlehead Fern and Mushroom Ragout with Wild Ramps and Purple Rice Arugula Fritters
Char-Broiled Spring Asparagus with Poached Egg, Candied Lemon and Jalapeño Citrus Jelly
Caramelized Fennel Cappelletti (Stuffed Pasta) with Honey Grilled Figs and Farmers Cheese Ricotta
Each course included multiple vegetables and colorful microgreens, all in layers of texture and flavor.
Lemon Almond Olive Oil Cake with Blackberry-Pepper Sorbet
Keep up with The Chopping Block's roster of Chef Dinners—speciality menus from our chefs that are explained and demonstrated in one of our professional kitchens—on our website or in our stores. Our next one coming up this month is a refined diner brunch with Chef Tara Arnaud and Christy Williams. It's going to be lots of fun!