Magazine article Sunset

Vegetable King: Who Needs Meat as a Main Course? Chef Jeremy Fox's Vegetable Dishes Are Delicious, Satisfying, and Easy to Make

Magazine article Sunset

Vegetable King: Who Needs Meat as a Main Course? Chef Jeremy Fox's Vegetable Dishes Are Delicious, Satisfying, and Easy to Make

Article excerpt

"I LIKE TO ROAST larger cuts of vegetables and butcher them afterward." It's not the most typical thing for the chef of a vegetables-only restaurant to say. But Jeremy Fox, 33, is anything but a typical chef, and his food has more gusto than most main courses with meat in them. In fact, his wizardry with produce has helped Napa's Ubuntu restaurant earn a Michelin star (almost unheard of for a vegetarian restaurant) and a spot on The New York Times list of the 10 best restaurants in America.

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Fox believes in whole-vegetable cooking. "You serve meat on the bone. Why not serve vegetables in their skins?" From the bounty in Ubuntu's garden, he creates flavors and textures normally associated with meat. Try this recipes and you'll learn how to make vegetables dense or creamy; crisp-skinned, buttery, or crunchy; and as succulent as a steak--using produce you've probably seen at the farmers' market dozens of times and wondered what to do with. So let Fox show you: Turn the page and jump-start your imagination.

INFO Ubuntu ($$; call for hours; 1140 Main St., Napa; ubuntunapa.com or 707/251-5656)

Seven spring vegetables from Fox's kitchen

1 | Baby artichoke

From the same plant as big artichokes, but more tender. Peel, cook, and eat whole.

2 | Miner's lettuce

Find this mild, delicate wild green at farmers' markets from late winter to early spring.

3 | Wood sorrel

A deliciously lemony wild green in the oxalis family. Fox uses it only as a garnish, since it can be toxic in very large quantities.

4 | Sheep sorrel

Refreshingly tart and fine to use as a main ingredient. Its color turns to olive when cooked.

5 | Baby carrots

Just-formed carrots are extremely sweet and crunchy. Use them whole as a garnish.

6 | Baby radishes

Dense, juicy, and with very little if any heat; eat them stems and all, with butter and salt.

7 | Kohlrabi

A type of cabbage with a gentle broccoli flavor and creamy texture when cooked. Little once are the most tender.

Roasted baby artichokes with spring salsa

SERVES 4 TIME 2 1/4 hours

The crunchy toasted nuts, stir-fried favas, and curls of parmesan cheese add layers of richness to this first course.

20 baby artichokes, stems trimmed to 1 in.
About 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 to 8 thyme sprigs
2 tsp. chopped rosemary
2 tbsp. Meyer lemon zest, divided
About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup peeled fava beans*, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. red chile flakes
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 tbsp. Meyer lemon juice
1/4 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed dill fronds, chopped
3/4 cup mild green olives such as Castelvetrano, pitted and torn in
half
Chunk of parmesan cheese (at least 2 oz.), at room temperature
15 to 20 miner's lettuce or baby arugula leaves

1. Preheat oven to 300[degrees]. Snap off leaves of artichokes down to the yellow-green layer. Trim green tips of remaining leaves and fibrous surface from stems.

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2. Pour 1/4 cup oil into a small rimmed baking pan. Add artichokes, herbs, 4 tsp. zest, and 1/2 tsp. salt; turn to coat artichokes. Cover pan with foil and roast artichokes until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30 to 45 minutes.

3. Uncover pan and set oven to broil. Broil artichokes, turning every minute or so, until browned all over, about 8 minutes. Transfer artichokes to a cutting board. Pour any oil from pan into a measuring cup and add enough extra oil to equal V2 cup; then pour into a large cast-iron or nonstick frying pan.

4. Make salsa: Heat artichoke oil over medium-high heat. Add fava beans and cook, stirring often, until favas are heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Add chile flakes, garlic, and remaining lemon zest and cook 1 minute. …

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