The excitement of the new decade is behind us and I am beginning to settle into the winter season. The energy (and occasional chaos) that comes with the New Year has calmed and I am enjoying the cold weather, calmness of early days inside and embracing the season’s hearty winter produce in my kitchen. As always, the season and local produce harvest guide my cooking. For many, winter can be a tough time to find fresh produce as much of the country is covered in snow or too cold for most of the “exciting and showy” produce of the other seasons. Yes, tomatoes and berries are still available right now in the store, but they don’t taste like much and honestly, they don’t have the same nutritional benefits as they do in their true season. I skip over these items and head for the brussels sprouts, kale, root vegetables, cabbages and other winter produce. These items shine this time of the year and they have the most flavor and nutrition to offer in their peak season. This is the heart of seasonal cooking and I believe it leads to an overall balance for the year. At times it may feel like I’ve overdone it, like eating too much of the same items, but as soon as I begin to feel that way new produce emerges and it’s time to embrace the next season and harvest of new produce. I love cooking this way and feel that it naturally nourishes my body with what it needs for the time of the year.
While we have a core menu at Urban Plates that offers items you can always count on being fresh and made from scratch we like to highlight produce and cooking methods with our seasonal menu changes. This month we are offering some new items and focusing on some of our core offerings that are especially delicious right now due to the ingredients being in their peak.
Plant Based Bowls
Our newest addition to the menu is our Plant Based Bowls. These are a great way to fuel your body with nutrient dense ingredients bursting with unique flavor profiles.The chickpea & sweet potato bowlis a beautiful composition of seasoned chickpeas and lentils, chilled roasted sweet potatoes coated with chia seeds, and a crunchy, harissa spiced cabbage and pea salad. We drizzle everything with our vegan kale pesto and finish the bowl with goji berries.
Our beet & avocado bowl is a bright combination of organic white & red quinoa tossed with roasted tomato pesto, chilled roasted beets coated with hemp seeds, pickled onions and a crisp raw cabbage- walnut salad tossed with our miso lemongrass dressing. Both bowls are vegan, gluten free and rich with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, plant-based protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
Lamb Osso Bucco
The lamb osso bucco we introduced with our fall menu is another perfect winter weather meal option. The grass-fed lamb shank is slow cooked in a red wine reduction sauce and finished with a bright herbaceous mint gremolata. We serve the fork-tender osso bucco with our luscious mashed potatoes and a slice of grilled rustic bread. I find this dish hearty and satisfying without being heavy, the perfect comfort meal.
Our hot sides are always a great accompaniment to your meal this time of the year, warming and satisfying. While our core hot sides are available year-round, I think the roasted brussels sprouts with turkey bacon are at their best right now. The colder weather is the perfect condition for growing delicious tender brussels sprouts. Unlike many fruits and vegetables, they can withstand and thrive in the colder winter season. We cook them at a high heat in our ovens and then finish them in small batches on our sauté line with sweet yellow onions, turkey bacon, garlic and a splash of lemon juice. If you haven’t had them recently or ever, make sure you give them a try on your next visit!
We’re introducing a new red & white quinoa hot side this month. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a seed that acts like a grain. Gluten free and containing all nine essential amino acids, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals, quinoa is a great option if you are looking for a healthy carbohydrate, high in protein and fiber. We start by cooking our quinoa with scratch made vegetable stock, toss it with our preserved lemon vinaigrette, fresh parsley and finish it with roasted tomato pesto. This side has a beautiful nutty base flavor brightened by the preserved lemons and tangy tomato pesto. It has a great nutritional profile containing all nine essential amino acids, antioxidants and a variety of vitamins and minerals. It’s a great option if you are looking for a healthy carbohydrate, high in protein and fiber.
Beets are another winter season crop that peak this time of the year. While we’ve had our beet fennel walnut cold side on the menu since the opening of our flagship restaurant, we wanted to try a new flavor profile this year. Our chefs crafted a miso lemongrass dressing that adds a lightly creamy texture to the beets with a mildly spicy, salty umami profile that balances perfectly with the earthy sweet flavor of the beets. We finish this side with hemp seeds and you can add goat cheese upon request. This is a low-calorie side high in vitamins.
All of our replenishers are made with fresh whole ingredients to provide you with real flavors and plenty of nutrient benefits. Our popular Super Green replenisher is returning to the menu while kale is at its peak. We blend organic baby kale, celery, cucumber, fresh lemon juice, raw ginger, parsley, pineapple, chia seeds and organic apple juice until it is perfectly smooth. It has a light body with a perfect balance of vegetable and subtle natural fruit sweetness. We’ve added no sugar to this drink and let the fruit naturally sweeten it. This replenisher is packed with nutrient dense ingredients that boost your immune system! Kale is loaded with antioxidants that can help lower cholesterol. Ginger has excellent anti-inflammatory benefits and chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber and calcium.
New to the menu is our Cantaloupe Mango replenisher. This bright orange drink is an excellent pick me up on those dreary days when you’re missing the sun and in need of some vitamin C. We blend fresh cantaloupe with mango, pineapple, organic apple juice and a pinch of stevia. The tropical mango and pineapple add a nice acidity to the sweet and naturally creamy melon, making this a luscious replenisher full of vitamin C & A, antioxidants and fiber.
Coconut Lemon Cake
Our ever-popular coconut lemon cake is returning this month for the season. It is a stunning dessert made with coconut milk cake layers filled with fresh lemon curd, coconut whipped pastry cream and finished with toasted coconut. The creamy rich coconut is balanced by the refreshing tart lemon and makes this cake irresistible.