CAPE ELIZABETH, MAINE – South of Portland at Crescent Beach here, Chef Andrew Chadwick is enjoying winter vegetables on his menus this year, rethinking traditional presentations and moving them from traditional “sides” to the center of the plate.
Winter menus need not always be carnivorous, he believes, and to that end, is serving some interesting veggie-centric options.
His focus on vegetables steps away from New England’s carnivorous- centric menus, and the Chef believes the time is right to do so- even in winter! “Stored vegetables are actually terrific- filled with flavor, they are hardy, colorful and highly delectable. Winter vegetables aren’t just tasty, they lend themselves to creative presentations and work well with everything from light and exotic to comfort food,” says Chef Chadwick. “Think potato varieties or turnip for form and structure, kale and beets for vibrant color, onions and celeriac for full flavor- all allowing a Chef to create a plate as artful as it is delicious.”
Protein moves from center of the plate to sides this winter on his menus aimed at moving the perception of vegetables from “our grandmother’s over boiled veg” to creative presentations that bring new appreciation to winter vegetables. “Think potato varieties or turnip for form and structure, kale and beets for vibrant color, onions and celeriac for full flavor- all allowing a Chef to create a plate as artful as it is delicious,” he declares.
A fan of micro greens for flavor and color, he buys small, growing Teenie Greenies® flats from nearby Scarborough farmers. Teenie Greenies® are Cultivation Works’ newest social enterprise, teaching people with disabilities to grow fresh, healthy produce in a sustainable way. The micro greens arrive with just their first, delicate leaves developed and are packed with flavor and nutrients. It’s like having fields- but very tiny, stacked fields- at the chef’s fingertips in Sea Glass all winter, he finds.
“People naturally crave comfort food in the winter and tend to eat fewer fresh and simple foods and salads. Probably more important in winter than at any other time, vegetables add vital nutrients and fiber to meals,” says Chadwick.
He adds that “diners are intensely interested in farm to fork and locally grown produce- what speaks more to the characteristics of our region than vegetables from a local farm- even in winter! People in New England have been storing vegetables for winter use for generations- it’s time to get vegetables out of the root cellar and onto the center of the plate!”
PHOTO CREDIT: Axelrod Photography