January 2010 Issue
Give winter food a healthy twist with meatless favorites from rock icon Chrissie Hynde’s vegan restaurant.
For most of his 42 years, Scot Jones’ idea of comfort food was shaped by the meals he and his eight siblings were raised on in West Akron. He rhapsodizes about his mother’s stuffed roasted chicken, beef stroganoff and chicken paprikash.
“My aunt used to make this stuff called mush,” he adds. “It was ground beef cooked off with a couple cans of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup over mashed potatoes. That was the best!”
Jones radically revised that definition after assuming executive-chef duties at The VegiTerranean, a Rubber City restaurant opened by rocker Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Canton restaurateur Dan Duplain and Jones in late 2007. “Chrissie opened up my eyes to a whole other world …,” he says of his fellow Akronite. Culinary training and a well-educated palate allowed him to adapt to cooking without animal products almost immediately. But the change in personal eating habits was a gradual one for a lifelong carnivore who spent much of his career preparing meaty northern Italian dishes at Johnny’s in Cleveland, Duplain’s Fedeli in Canton and his own Grappa’s in Akron.
“I’d look at that steak at the supermarket and go, ‘Oh, my God, what I could do with that!’” he says. “It was tough in the beginning. But then I started playing around at home, like I played around at the restaurant.” Among his first creations were a creamy squash soup and a minestrone alla Genovese made with fresh pesto, pastina and vegetables. “I got great flavors, and my partner and I were satisfied.”
Jones’ more homespun menu options include fresh whole-wheat tofu linguine with a hearty portabello and wild-mushroom ragout and a vegan pot pie made with tofu instead of chicken or turkey. He also uses brand-name meat substitutes such as Tofurkey sausage in his Back on the Chain Gang sausage sandwich (named after one of The Pretenders’ greatest hits) and Gardein patties — made of wheat, soy, the ancient grain quinoa and pea, beet and carrot proteins — in his baked rigatoni Bolognese. The offerings have won over meat-eating he-men who arrived at The VegiTerranean planning to make a run for the nearest McDonald’s after the bill was paid. “As a chef,” he says, “that’s the challenge I love.”
Whole-Wheat Linguine With Portabello and Wild Mushroom Ragout
Jones replaces the whole-wheat tofu linguine made for the restaurant by Ohio City Pasta in Cleveland with a plain whole-wheat counterpart for at-home preparation. He credits the portabello mushrooms with giving the sauce its meaty flavor.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ pounds whole-wheat linguine
1 1/3 cups fresh portabello mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/3 cups fresh oyster mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/3 cups fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh shallots, chopped
2 cups Chianti or cabernet sauvignon wine
4 cups fresh or canned roma toma-toes, roughly chopped, with juice
1 teaspoon mixed fresh sage, rosemary and thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper or to taste
1) Prepare linguine according to package directions. Heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic and shallots and saute for 8 minutes. Add red wine and continue sauteing for 2 minutes.
2) Add tomatoes to sauce and cook for 10 minutes or until sauce is thick. Add sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Strain linguine and divide among four plates. Ladle sauce over linguine. Serves 4.
Vegan Pot Pie
Jones admits that tofu isn’t exactly the most inspiring of ingredients, particularly for first-time users. But its appearance improves dramatically once it’s browned. And like most raw meats that have not been aged, smoked, marinated, etc., it is virtually tasteless and takes on the flavor of the other ingredients in the recipe.
2 medium potatoes, diced (2 cups)
2 large carrots, sliced (1 cup)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 16-ounce package firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
1 large sweet onion, diced (2 cups)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons San-J-Tamari-brand soy sauce, divided
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups wild portabello, shitake or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup plain soy milk
3 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
½ teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1) To make filling, cook potatoes and carrots in large pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
2) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook 5 minutes or until tofu begins to brown. Stir in onions, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, granulated garlic and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper and cook until onions begin to soften.
3) Combine tofu-and-onion mixture with potatoes and carrots in pot. Push mixture to side of pot and add remaining oil to the bottom of the pot. Whisk flour into oil to make a roux, stirring constantly until combined.
4) Whisk stock into the roux once it is smooth. Add tofu-and-vegetable mixture, mushrooms, broccoli, minced garlic, soy milk, wine and remaining 1/4 cup soy sauce. Stir gently, then add thyme, sage, hoisin sauce, Worcestershire sauce and remaining 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Remove from heat and set aside or transfer to large casserole dish.
5) To make crust, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, salt and shortening with fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Stir in up to 4 tablespoons cold water if necessary for the dough to stick together. Gently knead rosemary and sage into dough, then shape dough into a ball. Place dough ball in plastic bag and push out from center of ball to shape dough to size of Dutch oven or casserole dish. Remove dough from bag and lay over filling in Dutch oven or casserole dish. Poke holes in dough to allow steam to escape. Bake 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
Web Extra - Chrissie Fries
Jones renamed his Tuscan fries after VegiTerranean co-owner Chrissie Hynde because “she says they’re the best fries ever.” He suggests grinding a melange of black, red, green and white peppercorns and using Earth Balance-brand soy butter made with canola oil instead of olive oil.
“I don’t want the flavor of the olive oil to come through,” he explains.
2 medium russet potatoes, sliced as preferred
2-3 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons Earth Balance-brand soy butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh shallots, chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
Combine the soy butter, rosemary, garlic, shallots and salt and pepper in a stainless-steel mixing bowl. Fry the potatoes in a deep-fryer or deep pot over high heat until golden. Place potatoes on paper towels to drain oil, then immediately toss with soy butter mixture in bowl. Serves 4.