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Simple Seasonal Menu No. 1

On Friday I was asked to create and prepare a menu for a potential client for Sunday evening. The restrictions were: vegan, seasonal and minimal garlic. I was excited about the potential client and challenged  by the menu as I rely quite a bit on garlic to add depth of flavor to most dishes.

On Saturday I headed over to the Borough Hall Greenmarket to see what I could find. The weather has begun to turn and it’s getting colder here in NY but there is still some incredible produce available beyond the soon to be ubiquitous root vegetables and apples. I loaded up on shiitakes, cauliflower, butternut squash, baby brussel sprouts on the stalk, lettuce, radishes, carrots, kale and concord grapes.

From these ingredients I settled on the following menu:

  • Lemony Butternut Squash Soup
  • Mixed salad with radish, carrots and shiitake bacon in a creamy dijon vinaigrette
  • Roasted Cauliflower and Brussel Sprouts, Crispy Tempeh on a Bed of Sauteed Kale Served With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
  • Concord Grape Sorbet

I was a bit nervous about the soup being too lemony but they seemed to love it. I sauteed onion with a pinch of salt, cumin and cayenne, added the butternut squash and vegetable stock and finished it with a bit of grated ginger and lemon juice.  After it was cooked thoroughly, I blended it together using an immersion blender and added some more salt and a bit of black pepper.

The salad was really just a chance to showcase the “Shiitake Bacon”, which we also referred to as crack at school. This is such an easy win, toss some sliced shiitakes with olive oil and salt and bake until crispy, being careful not to burn them.

With the entree I was going for balance of texture, flavors, colors and nutrition, trying to get good carbohydrates, vitamins and proteins.  I marinated the tempeh for a good while to have it absorb some flavor then dredged it in a bit of seasoned flower and pan fried it until it was crispy. I added a bit of rosemary and some shallots to the roasted veggies to give them a little extra flavor and used just a touch of roasted garlic (which makes it very sweet) to the red pepper sauce.

With the Concord grape sorbet, I sweetened it with a touch of agave and added a few tablespoons of lemon juice to brighten it up, otherwise, I let the grapes do the talking. The color was gorgeous and I was so grateful they were still to be found at the market.

We all felt good after the meal and I still feel excited about the potential client. Hurray!

  • http://www.simplesocialkitchen.com Chef Molly

    I just realized, had I not put a crouton in the soup, this meal would have been entirely gluten free as well!

  • http://crackedladle.com Vanessa

    Sounds like a hit! What a beautiful menu. Did you take pictures?!

  • http://www.simplesocialkitchen.com Chef Molly

    You know, I was so caught up in serving and chatting I didn’t. I’ll remake it and post pics.

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