Natasha Kwan of Frida's Deli: Recipes for Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats and Baby Spinach Salad with Champagne-Mango Dressing

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This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Natasha Kwan of Frida's Deli. Read part one, a profile of Kwan, here. Read part two, a Q & A of Kwan, here.

Natasha Kwan, owner of Frida's Deli in University City. - COURTESY OF FRIDA'S DELI
  • courtesy of Frida's Deli
  • Natasha Kwan, owner of Frida's Deli in University City.

Natasha Kwan, owner of Frida's Deli (622 North and South Road, University City; 314-727-6500), doesn't create a dish by deleting the meat from a traditional recipe and then replacing it with a vegetarian or vegan substitute. She takes a broader view, looking to create healthy recipes from whole foods -- recipes that honor the actual flavors and textures of fruits, vegetables, grains and other ingredients.

Or, as she notes in describing these recipes to me, "We've done both of these things for catering and I guarantee no one knew that there was no oil or salt -- just another way we sneak in health."

See Also: - Chef's Choice Profile of Natasha Kwan, Part 1 - Chef's Choice Profile of Natasha Kwan, Part 2 - "Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)" 2012: Frida's Deli

Vegetable-Stuffed Zucchini Boats

(serves four)

Kwan notes that this recipe is vegan as well as gluten-, oil-, soy- and salt-free.

4 zucchinis 1 red bell pepper, roughly chopped 1/2 cup julienned sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil) 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped freshly grated Parmesan, or one Brazil nut (optional)

1. Oil-Free Roasting: Preheat oven to 375º. Place red bell pepper on the center of baking sheet, ensuring that all pieces are touching. Place in oven and slightly toss every 6-7 minutes, making sure the moisture is mixed thoroughly. Roast until the edges of the bell pepper begin to brown, approximately 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside. Keep your oven on so you can bake your zucchini boats.

2. Place sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and roasted bell pepper in a food processor and pulse until ingredients are chopped to your desired texture. Remove and set aside.

3. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides leaving a 1/4" space on each end so your stuffing does not fall out.

4. Place baking parchment on a cookie sheet. Fill each zucchini boat with the mixture and bake at 375º for 15 minutes, until zucchini is thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with optional parmesan or a grated Brazil nut. Enjoy!

Page through for Kwan's recipe for baby spinach salad with champagne-mango dressing.

Baby Spinach Salad with Champagne-Mango Dressing

(serves four)

Kwan notes that this recipe is vegan as well as gluten-, oil-, soy- and salt-free.

8 cups of loosely packed baby spinach 1/2 cup of red onion, thinly sliced 3/4 cup shelled walnuts 1 mango 1 tsp raw apple-cider vinegar 1/4 cup Champagne or cava* 1/4 cup water

* - make sure this is something you'd enjoy drinking, not the cheapest bottle at the store!

1. To make the dressing: Place mango, water and vinegar in blender and blend until smooth. Remove, place in mixing bowl. Whisk in Champagne or cava.

2. To assemble salad: Place spinach on chilled salad plates, top with red onion and drizzle with dressing, top with walnuts.

Pour the rest of the bottle of bubbly to your friends, sit and enjoy!

This is part three of Gut Check's Chef's Choice profile of Natasha Kwan of Frida's Deli. Read part one, a profile of Kwan, here. Read part two, a Q & A of Kwan, here.

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