Foodie Fridays: Fresh
If you’ve been lucky enough to visit one of the mini-chain of restaurants in Toronto known as Fresh, then you’ll be super excited for this post. And if you haven’t and you’re here for the good word on vegetarian / vegan cooking as part of vegetarian awareness month, then read on!
As I spelled out above, Fresh is a small chain of Canadian-owned and operated restaurants, which originally started as a juice bar twenty years ago. Everything on their menu is in fact, vegan, although they offer some vegetarian dishes at their takeout counter. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the sustainably-minded company has released a new cookbook (their third) that highlights recipes to appease flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans alike.
Along with dozens of recipes in the usual categories of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, brunches, sweets, and sauces, the cookbook also includes recipes for a bunch of their legendary juices. Every dish is served up alongside tips, tricks, and advice from the Fresh team, and tons of the recipes use base ingredients repeatedly – so when you make four cups of guacamole or vegan tzatziki, you know it’s not going to waste.
Generally speaking, I’d say this is a book for someone that’s relatively comfortable with cooking, particularly vegan cooking. I’m familiar with tons of the ingredients by this point, but for someone that’s uninitiated to vegan substitutes, they may be a little intimidated. Ultimately it’s not a book for transitioning, but it is a book that delivers amazing-sounding food – particularly if you or a friend is already a fan of the restaurant! – and some great tips for amping up your culinary skills, trying a juice fast / cleanse, and general food preparation help. It’s also ideal for the vegetarian that’s curious to try vegan dishes, or for the omnivore that’s not quite ready to commit to either – there’s a big cross-section of delish choices here, with restaurant quality pretty much guaranteed…your personal cooking skills aside.
To tantalize your taste buds, I’ve got the recipe here for Fresh’s famous Tangled Thai Salad – one of their MOST requested recipes, among several others featured in the book (like their Quinoa Onion Rings!). Many of the ingredients are in season and ripe for the picking across Canada at the moment as well – so you can source your local farmer’s market for a good chunk of this one. Update! There’s one ingredient in this dish that isn’t native to Canada – but is certainly chockful of deliciousness…and nutritional benefits! I actually read this amazing article on the 25 science-backed health benefits of papaya on Well-Being Secrets and had to share it with you guys before you indulge in this dish. And with that, bon appetit!
Tangled Thai Salad
At Fresh we use a turning slicer (spiralizer) to cut the carrot and yellow beets into super-long, thin strands that form a big round tangle of a salad. You probably don’t have a turning slicer at home, so it’s worth getting a julienne peeler, which will give you nice long strands as well. They won’t be mega-long, like ours, but a turning slicer is about $100, and a julienne peeler is only about $10, so it’s a pretty good compromise. If you don’t have either, just cut the vegetables into sticks as thin and long as you can.
Serves 1 as a meal
1 cup chopped napa cabbage
1/3 cup sliced jicama (cut into small sticks)
2/3 cup shredded or spiralized carrot
2/3 cup shredded or spiralized yellow beet
4 tbsp Peanut Lime Dressing (recipe follows)
3 slices cucumber, halved
2 tsp chopped raw peanuts
2 tbsp Fresh Salad Topper (recipe follows)
1 lime wedge
2 to 3 tbsp chopped cilantro
1. Put napa cabbage in a large, shallow serving bowl (or plate). Top with jicama.
2. Pile the carrot and beet on top and drizzle with dressing.
3. Garnish with the cucumber, peanuts, Salad Topper, lime, and cilantro.
Peanut Lime Dressing
This dressing will keep for up to a week in the fridge. It is delicious on the Tangled Thai Salad, but would be equally good on any salad or even poured on top of cold noodles.
Makes 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tbsp)
2 tbsp tightly packed cilantro
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
2 tbsp + 2 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp tamari
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp peeled and chopped ginger
2 tsp coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp organic sugar
3/4 tsp sesame oil
3/4 tsp sambal oelek
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1. In a blender, puree all ingredients except the sunflower oil.
2. With blender running, add sunflower oil in a thin stream until dressing is emulsified.
Fresh Salad Topper
This crunchy mix adds great flavour and texture to any salad. If you want to use it as a topper for fruit salad, yogurt, or oatmeal, leave the salt out and replace it with sugar. If you can’t find puffed quinoa at your local health food store, you can substitute puffed millet. This mixture keeps for months in an airtight container.
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
1 cup puffed quinoa
1/4 cup goji berries
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup diced papaya
2 tbsp sliced almonds
2 tbsp chopped hazelnuts
2 tbsp chopped pistachios
1/4 tsp sea salt
1. Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Recipe reprinted with permission of John Wiley & Sons Ltd.