Roasts reign supreme at River Roast, Chicago. The menu
features five entree items each night, all roasts. “Our mission is
to introduce millennials to the concept of sharing Sunday dinner,”
says John Hogan, executive chef. “At most places, people each
order their own entree. Here, they share a roast.” Two people
usually order one roast, four order three or four roasts.
There is always a vegetable roast, dubbed the “boatload of
vegetables.” The dish, which features roasted market vegetables,
has one vegetable as the focal point surrounded by local farm
vegetables often dressed with harissa sauce, “because vegetarians
like a little spice,” Hogan notes. An example is a poblano chili
stuffed with risotto and garbanzo beans, surrounded by sugar snap
peas and pearl onions. A good holiday offering is whole roasted
red kuri squash stuffed with Brussels sprouts, pearl onions and
mushrooms. “We get a number of vegetarians, and the vegetable
roast is popular,” Hogan says. “Some tables order it as a side dish.”
Other vegetarian side dishes good for the holidays include
carrots and dirt, which begins with roasted carrot and dollops of
goat cheese (easily omitted) dressed with balsamic vinegar. The
“dirt” is made from pumpernickel bread ground with black garlic.
Hogan’s peas with pearl onions, bibb lettuce and bacon is a side
dish easily adapted for vegetarians by leaving off the bacon.
While vegetarians represent a small percentage of the U.S.
population, interest in skipping meat occasionally continues to
grow. That’s one of the reasons Pederson offers a menu that is
40% vegetarian at Found Kitchen. It appeals to a diverse clientele,
including university students and their parents, older customers and
the 30- to 40-year-old crowd. She calls her approach flexitarian.
“That’s a concept that is growing in popularity and appeals to
customers who may eat meat once or twice a week or more, but
like meatless meals, as well,” she says. Those menu items focus
on grains and seasonal vegetables, putting the vegetables in the
center of the plate.
Among Pederson’s popular vegetarian items are fried cauliflower with snap peas, green beans with chutney powder, and
polenta with bok choy and tofu. Other offerings include harissa-roasted corn, okra and sweet peppers, and white corn and flaxseed
polenta cakes with tomatoes and cucumber relish.
Half to three-quarters of Pederson’s menu changes monthly. Her
fall and winter holiday offerings lean heavily on root vegetables.
A huge seller during the winter months and holiday season is
root vegetable stew with smoked tofu, garbanzo beans, turmeric/
coconut broth and root vegetables. Cauliflower and eggplant
Provençal, made with roasted cauliflower and eggplant with dried
vegetarian make mine meatless
clockwise froM top left 1) the mushroom gnudi at firelake grill house is
2) & 3) at the wild cow, this holiday salad includes georgia
peaches and pecans and a faux feta made from soaked cashews, and the grilled
pineapple veggie burger.
4) carrots and dirt—roasted carrots and goat cheese with
ground pumpernickel/black garlic—at river roast.