Vegetarian Blue Plate Special
There’s a chill in the air these days, but we’re not quite ready to let go of the late-summer flavors on this Vegetarian Blue Plate Special. The bounty of local produce parading through our doors inspired Chef Curtis Shaver to dream up these dishes. Hurry in before fall chases them away!
As always, the Blue Plate features a sampler of vegetarian items:
Charred Okra & Cherry Tomato Salad
Rob Lewis has been growing okra for us for two years now, and he’s a master. “Okra gets a bad rap for being slimy, but you just have to cook it correctly,” Curtis says. “It likes hot dry heat, same as the growing conditions.” Quick-grilled okra joins sliced cherry tomatoes, red onion, olive oil, and sherry vinegar for a simply delicious salad.
Summer Vegetable Gratin
Vegetarians and omnivores alike love the satisfying heartiness of a gratin or casserole. This one is reminiscent of ratatouille with its blend of thinly sliced zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and onions layered with herbs, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs.
Rapini is a leafy green relative of broccoli that’s often associated with Italian cuisine. Its bitterness is easily brightened by a quick sauté with garlic, shallots, and lemon.
Curtis and his staff slice local eggplants into thick fries, then sprinkle with salt to drain the liquid and get rid of bitterness. The fries are dredged lightly in cornstarch and flour, then quickly fried for a crisp tender texture. So far, so fabulous… but there’s more. These tender morsels get tossed in a soy ginger sauce made with freshly grated ginger, sesame oil, and Indonesian sweet soy.
If you don’t know about corn pudding, you may not expect this to be the star of the whole plate. “I learned about it a couple of years back, down in Charleston,” Curtis says. “I fell in love with it.” At heart it’s just a basic custard, but somehow a few humble ingredients yield a sweet, rich treat. Curtis slices fresh sweet yellow corn right off the cob and into a mixture of egg, cream, and a little sugar. Baked in small dishes, it’s your own little bit of heaven.