Located in California’s Napa Valley, Ubuntu is “the most brilliant vegetarian restaurant” in America, said Kristin Donnelly in Food & Wine. Curiously, proprietor Sandy Lawrence—a “career overachiever” who once ran a global conference-planning company—is an occasional meat eater. So how did she end up running a laid-back restaurant that does not serve meat?
It started with parties at her ultra-ecological, rammed-earth home, to which she would often invite friends for yoga and dinner. The parties became so popular that, in 2007, she “decided to turn them into a business.” Chef Jeremy Fox uses fruits and vegetables from Lawrence’s biodynamic garden to create stunning main courses and desserts. The silky carrot purée, mixed with cheddar, “is a terrific source of vitamin A,” and the Spanish-inspired salad is packed with antioxidants.
Recipes of the week
Carrot Macaroni and Cheese
¾ lb carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
Zest and juice of 1 navel orange, zest removed in strips with vegetable peeler
3 cups penne rigate (9 oz)
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1½ cups)
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
Freshly ground white pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium saucepan, combine carrots with zest and juice and ¼ cup water. Season with salt; bring to boil. Cover; simmer over moderate heat until carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Discard zest. Transfer carrots and any liquid to blender; purée until very smooth.
Meanwhile, in large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot. Add reserved water and carrot purée, cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until pasta is coated with thickened sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in three-fourths of cheese and cook, stirring until very creamy, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Stir in tarragon; season with salt and white pepper. Transfer pasta to medium baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.
Broccoli à la Catalan
4 red bell peppers
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 tbsp golden raisins
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp finely shredded mint leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups broccoli florets in ¾-inch pieces (from 1 bunch)
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange bell peppers on baking sheet and roast, turning once, until charred in spots and tender, about 25 minutes. Transfer peppers to bowl; cover with plastic wrap; let cool slightly. Meanwhile, spread pine nuts on pie plate; toast just until golden, about 2 minutes. In microwave-safe bowl, combine raisins with 1 tsp vinegar and 2 tbsp water; microwave on high power for 30 seconds, just until raisins are plump. Let cool; drain raisins.
Peel, seed, core peppers, then cut into thin strips. Return peppers to bowl; stir in mint; season with salt and pepper. In saucepan fitted with steamer basket, bring 1 inch water to boil. Add broccoli; cover; steam until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes; transfer to bowl. Add olive oil and remaining 1 tsp vinegar, toss. Stir in raisins and nuts; season with salt and pepper. Spread peppers on platter; top with broccoli salad; serve right away. Serves 4.