Haute Veg

From a tent at Woodstock to a table at Bouley, meatless meals have earned caché.

If you’ve had your fill of granola, if you miss the crackle of crispy steak fat, if you think seitan is the devil (it’s wheat gluten) … if you’ve resisted vegetarianism just so long, it’s time to relent: Vegetarian cuisine has come into its own. No longer relegated to the back pages of menus, meatless dishes these days are more than afterthoughts. With exotic ingredients, global influences and imaginative twists by educated chefs, vegetarian cuisine is as haute as it is hot.

Not that long ago, vegetarians dining out were subject to eye-rolling by friends and exasperated harrumphs from servers. Now, pity the poor establishment that discounts the herbivore public. Not only are restaurants offering vegetarian variety, they’re providing meatless choices worthy of equal consideration as meat-centric meals.

We asked five noteworthy Virginia chefs (including one who reigns supreme at a chop house) to share a favorite vegetarian recipe. Try one, and we think you’ll see how vegetarian cuisine has gone uptown, earning its place in the hearts, the minds and the palates of today’s arbiters of taste.

Lentil Wheat Berry Couscous Cakes

Local Chop & Grill House



2 cups couscous

2 cups wheat berries

2 cups lentils

1 quart oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 white onion, diced small

1 head garlic, minced

3 sprigs each, rosemary, oregano, finely chopped

2 bunches flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

3 lemons, juice and zest

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika

¾ cup Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Fill pan with just enough water to cover the cous cous and heat to about 180 degrees. Pour water over cous cous. Cover for 10 minutes. When all liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork and reserve. Cook lentils in water until soft, about 20 minutes, adding water as necessary.

Cook wheat berries in water until soft, roughly an hour, adding water as necessary. Sauté onions, herbs, mushrooms and carrot in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until transparent. Add garlic, and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes, then remove from heat. Drain lentils and wheat berries and mash them with a potato masher, your hands or a whisk. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined. Shape the mixture into patties that fit in the palm of your hand. Coat in breadcrumbs and lightly sear in butter. Heat to serve.

Serve with a sauté of cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, basil and arugula.

Serves 4

Artichoke Bargoule

Ashby Inn



1 quart dry white wine

1 cup white distilled vinegar

1 quart vegetable broth

4 lemons with zest

½ large onion

½ head garlic

2-3 stalks celery

½ cup olive oil

½ bunch parsley

½ bunch tarragon

½ bunch chervil

½ bunch chives

3 fresh bay leaves

1 cup pitted luques olives

3 very large artichokes

½ lemon for zesting

Salt and white pepper to taste

(Be a tad aggressive with the salt to offset the sourness.)

Put all ingredients except the parsley, chervil, lemon for zesting and chives into a heavy bottomed tall stockpot. Bring to a light boil and turn off heat. Let sit on the stove for two hours to infuse. As quickly as possible (to prevent browning), clean the artichokes of their green leaves and the furry choke. While keeping the stem attached, peel off its tough outer layer. After each artichoke is cleaned, add it to the broth to prevent browning.

When all artichokes are cleaned and in broth, turn the heat up to a simmer and cook them until the tip of a knife can penetrate them easily. When cooked, turn off the heat, and add all the herbs. Let cool to room temperature.

To Serve:

Using a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes and plate each with some of the olives and aromatic goodies. Ladle over them some of the broth, some lemon zest, and serve with super hot crusty bread, butter, and buttery white wine.

Serves 3

Caramelized Eggplant with Sprouted Lentils, Tofu and Radishes

Clifton Inn



For Sprouted Lentils:

1 cup dried lentils

3 cups water

Soak lentils overnight in water. Drain and rinse. Spread on a cookie sheet. Cover with cheesecloth and let sit at room temperature for at least six hours. Rinse lentils and spread on cookie sheet for another night. At this point, you should see a little sprout coming out. If not, re-rinse, lay out and cover for one more day. This should not take longer than three days.

For Charred Eggplant Purée:

1 large eggplant

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tabelspoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Roast eggplant over an open flame until it is fully charred all over. Place in 350-degree oven and cook all the way through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Purée everything until smooth. Season with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

To Plate:

2 medium Japanese eggplants

1 tablespoon blend of olive oil and canola oil

4 tablespoons charred eggplant purée

4 tablespoons Twin Oaks tofu

4 tablespoons sprout lentils

1 teaspoon fresh lavender

1 teaspoon malt vinegar

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

2 French breakfast radishes, very thinly sliced

Slice eggplant into 12 slices. Season with salt. Heat oil in a pan until very hot. Add eggplant and sear on one side until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip eggplant. Add lavender and remove pan from heat. Place a small dollop of charred eggplant purée on a plate. Toss lentils with oil and vinegar. Place a small pile of sprouted lentils next to eggplant purée. Place tofu on opposite side of lentils. Shingle three slices of eggplant across the top of everything. Arrange radishes around plate.

Serves 4

Sherry and Roasted Garlic Sauce à la Tegame with Pasta

Local Roots Restaurant



1 cup shallots, diced small

2 ounces garlic confit    

3 tablespoons Local Roots City Farm arugula pesto

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sherry Amontillado

2 cups Local Roots City Farm cherry tomatoes

1 ounce Italian parsley chiffonade

2 ½ ounces Chapel Hill Calvander cheese, peeled or grated

2 tablespoons fresh lemon zest

7 ounces dried handmade pasta

1 quart plus 2 ounces vegetable stock

Kosher salt to taste

Freshly cracked black peppercorns to taste

2 tablespoons organic grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons organic California olive oil

Over medium-high heat, cook shallots and sweat until translucent and tender. Add garlic confit, crushing cloves with wooden spoon, and cook until a nutty and roasted aroma is released; reduce to medium heat. Add cherry tomatoes and cook until skins begin to blister; remove tomatoes from pan, reserving for later. Add dried pasta to pan and immediately deglaze with sherry amontillado; reduce liquid until the alcohol aroma ceases, and deglaze once more with the vegetable stock. Continue to reduce liquid and cook pasta, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or pasta fork; this will thicken the sauce as the liquid reduces and the pasta cooks. Just before pasta is ‘al dente,’ incorporate the blistered cherry tomatoes, arugula pesto, parsley and lemon zest. Add salt and pepper to taste, and add olive oil to finish rounding out flavors.

Serves 4

Grilled Provençal-Style Vegetables

Le Yaca



4 green zucchini

12 sweet bell peppers

24 large green asparagus

6 large heirloom tomatoes

20 baby carrots

3 fennel bulbs

3 Portobello mushrooms

12 button mushrooms

18 fingerling potatoes

12 green onions

1 head of fresh garlic

Clean and dry all vegetables. Marinate all except potatoes in olive oil. Precook potatoes in water with kosher salt. Peel the potatoes, and slice them. Place them on an oven pan, and bake with olive oil until golden.

Tomato Jam or “Confiture”


Herbes de Provence

1 large red onion

8 large plum tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic

4 tablespoons of light brown sugar

Sea salt, black pepper and peppercorn for seasoning to taste

Peel the tomato, onions, and garlic. Preheat a saute pan for 30 seconds, then add some olive oil and sauté the diced onions, chopped garlic, paprika and Herbes de Provence for about 2 minutes without any excessive coloration. Add the tomatoes, and cook at low heat for 25 minutes. Add salt, peppercorns, black pepper and brown sugar, and cook for another 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Then blend with immersion blender.

Basil Oil

4 ounces fresh basil

2 cloves of garlic

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

sea salt, black pepper

Blend together fresh basil leaves and garlic while slowly adding the extra virgin olive oil. Add sea salt and black pepper.

Balsamic Oil

2 cups Modena balsamic vinegar reduction

roasted garlic

10 cloves garlic, peeled

Parmesan cheese

Finely slice the 10 cloves of peeled garlic, and roast in the oven at 400 degrees.

Evenly spread and cover the bottom of a deep stew pot with the tomato confiture. Place the vegetables over the bed of tomato confiture. Drizzle balsamic vinegar reduction and basil olive oil over the vegetables. Sprinkle the thinly sliced roasted garlic over the vegetables, and finish off with a few shaves of Parmesan cheese. Place lid of pot slightly ajar so that contents within continue to absorb seasoning, and then serve.

Serves 6

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