This is my eighth VeganMoFo post for 2014. For more information on this month’s theme, see my Cook from Books description here.
Do you remember, that one time on Chopped, when Rich Landau—chef and owner of Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia—won the entire competition? After making a horta roll and morel stock appetizer with dandelion greens and chia seeds for the first round, steak spice tempeh with golden beets for the main course and edamame turnovers with cranberry sauce for the final round, he beat out his competition using completely vegan ingredients, with the exception of honey added as a curveball basket ingredient in the final round.
Quietly confident, technically precise and endlessly creative, Chef Landau has redefined the way vegetables are treated in the mainstream culinary world. Instead of putting them off to the side, he brings them into the center of the plate, prepping and treating them in unique ways that celebrate and elevate them.
Using non- or minimally-processed, whole food ingredients, his style of cooking is adventurous yet approachable, and his recipes in Vedge are prepped in ways that coax out bold flavors and create beautiful textures and aromas in the process. What you see here are golden beets that have been simply salt roasted, then thinly sliced on a mandoline before being paired with a creamy sauce with salty capers and red onion.
I love how this Vedge recipe transforms this rock hard and knobby root vegetable into something silky and soft, with gorgeous shades of vibrant orange and yellow with deep ruby marbling throughout. After Jeff shot this dish, we sat down to take a bite, with the intention of saving the rest for dinner. That didn’t happen because we couldn’t stop dragging the beets through the sauce and capers right on the chopping block* until it was gone. Even though this recipe requires a couple hours for roasting and marinating, it’s worth it—the rest of the prep is simple and can be put together in about 10 minutes.
Next up to try from the Vedge: Chef Landau’s celery root fritters and rémoulade, baby scarlet turnips and their greens with garlic jus, watermelon radish carpaccio with fava beans and tarragon and roasted cauliflower with black vinegar and kimchi cream.
*Many thanks to the kind folks over at Pacific Merchants for sending me some pieces from their Acacia Wood collection. Displayed here is their tapered chop board, which looks gorgeous, is a snap to clean and is easy on knives. View some of their other lines here.