This year we thought it would be fun to showcase on our blog how others right here in Northeast Ohio are using our Perfectly Imperfect Produce to create beautiful meals. Once a month we’ll feature a local chef from one of our favorite restaurants and show you how they are transforming the contents of that week’s box. It’s like a real life episode of Food Network Chopped! Chefs will share the recipes they create with you, along with ideas for reducing food waste in your own kitchen. Learn their tried and true pro chef tips and tricks as well. You’ll see behind the scenes at some of your favorite restaurant kitchens and you’ll discover some hidden gems to add to your dining bucket list here in the CLE. From the East Side to the West, and from Italian to Indian we plan to feature a wide range of neighborhoods and flavors. We're really excited about launching this new approach to show you how pros in the kitchen are using up "ugly food" and turning it into tantalizing and tasty apps, meals, desserts and drinks.
Back in December, our PIP team happened to be brainstorming over lunch about this very idea, while sitting around a cozy table at Fat Cats in Tremont. We were devouring delectable dishes such as Grilled Octopus with garlic, avocado and preserved lemon and Butternut Squash Soup with ginger and coconut milk. I had the Cobb Salad with roasted beets, poached egg, gorgonzola and salmon. Each item was complex in flavor yet contained simple, healthful ingredients. When our Operations Manager, Laura West, and Fat Cats Chef, Ricardo Sandoval, recognized each other through the kitchen serving window from Laura's past in farming, we decided to bounce our Chopped idea off of Ricardo. He was immediately on board and Fat Cats was quickly on the books to be our first ever Restaurant Feature here on UglyFoodMakeover.com.
So earlier this week we delivered Ricardo one of our boxes filled with this week's rescues. He got a combo of purple Brussels sprouts, papaya, suntan bell peppers, zucchini, apples, gold beets, cucumbers and more -- all items we rescued from various local wholesalers and farms this week. We asked him to create a dish with whichever combination of items struck his fancy. Ricardo created FOUR! Today we are thrilled to share with you Ricardo's four course MEAL, ALL made with our Perfectly Imperfect Produce!
When I asked Chef Sandoval how he manages to keep food waste to a minimum in the Fat Cat's kitchen (and his own), he told me he always recommends that chefs (professionals and home cooks alike) figure out how to use any ingredient five different ways. This allows for flexibility in the kitchen and in your appetite. Ricardo definitely put that advice to practice today developing these four delicious recipes to share with you!
Zucchini Spaghetti with Christmas Tomato Sauce
1 Perfectly Imperfect zucchini (spiralized)
2 oz. olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh tomato sauce
1 tsp. dried currants
1 tsp. toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup seafood stock
Heat olive oil to medium heat with anchovies and garlic until garlic is golden and anchovies are dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and heat until well combined . Add zucchini until it’s slightly wilted and al dente (don’t over cook). Place zucchini pasta onto plate.
Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Curry Yogurt Dressing
2 cups Perfectly Imperfect purple brussels sprouts (cut in half...knob removed)
1/2 cup chopped Perfectly Imperfect apple
1/4 cup toasted cashews
1 tsp. chopped cilantro
3 oz. butter
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup aioli (mayonnaise)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. water
Combine all dressing ingredients then whisk. If too thick, add more water. Heat butter in frying pan with Brussels sprouts, cut side down (med heat), until cut side of Brussels sprouts is golden, then turn. Add chopped apples to pan and cook until Brussels are golden brown on the opposite side. Move apples in pan so they are cooked. Place Brussels and apples on plate. Combine dressing and mix well. Drizzle Brussels and apples with dressing. Sprinkle cashews and cilantro.
Tofu Noodle Bowl
1 Perfectly Imperfect zucchini julienned
1 Perfectly Imperfect carrot julienned
1 Perfectly Imperfect golden beet, raw, julienned
1 Perfectly Imperfect papaya julienned
1 jalapeño or Calabrian chili ( added if desired for spice)
1 napa cabbage julienned
1 package vermicelli cooked
cashew crusted tofu (recipe below)
chili dressing (recipe below)
Place desired amount of vermicelli in a bowl, then place remaining items in bowl (chop tofu & place in middle). Pour chili dressing over items.
Cashew Crusted Tofu Recipe:
1 package tofu cut into 1/3 then pressed for 1 hour to remove water
Marinate tofu in dressing below for 1 hour
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy
2 oz. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. ginger minced
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. flour
Whisk ingredients together
1/2 cup toasted cashew
1/2 cup panko
Pulse cashew and panko together in food processor.
Remove marinated tofu then dip into water/ flour mix then place in cashew/panko mix and lightly press on all sides so it’s covered. Cook over medium heat until golden brown.
1/4 cup vinegar (rice or white)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. minced Thai chili’s
Bring to a simmer then chill.
Apple Tart Tatin
3 Perfectly Imperfect apples sliced 1/4 inch thick into half moons
1/2 cup sugar
3 oz. butter
3 oz. apple cider
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 oz. butter
1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp. ice water
Pinch of salt
Use a food processor, mixer, or fork to roughly blend together the flour, sugar, salt and butter. Don't be too thorough; the mixture should be very uneven, with big chunks of butter in among the smaller ones. Add the egg yolk, vanilla extract and water, mixing to make a cohesive dough. Add a bit more water if necessary. Don’t over mix crust. Form into disk then wrap with plastic wrap and chill in fridge.
For filling, heat butter and sugar until golden brown add sliced apples and apple cider. Cook for a couple of minutes. Place apples in concentric circles in individual tart pans evenly dividing the liquid caramel.
Roll chilled dough onto surface until 1/8 inch thickness. Roll dough over filled tart pans . Brush crust with egg.
Bake in 375 degree oven for 40- 50 minutes. Serve . Invert apple tart pan onto plate. Served with whipped cream.
After Chef Sandoval amazed us with his ability to take one box of our produce and turn it into FOUR dishes, we had the pleasure of devouring all of this gorgeous and delicious food. We were blown away by each and every bite. Ricardo has proven that produce that might be a bit "imperfect" on the outside is simply perfect on the inside!
I encourage you to visit our friends at Fat Cats ASAP at 2061 W. 10th Street in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood to experience the outstanding food Ricardo and his team are serving up and to enjoy the warm, welcoming atmosphere there. Their menu is a perfect combination of sophisticated and approachable, American and ethnic and will please both carnivores and vegans alike. Fat Cats features down home dishes like a Fried Chicken Sandwich and more distinguished ones such as Arroz Caldo, a Filipino dish made with rice, ginger, garlic and poached egg. It's evident that Tremont locals consider Fat Cats to be part of the neighborhood, a home away from home, where they hang with friends at the bar and meet new ones at the long family style tables up front. Sitting on a quiet residential corner, Fat Cats is "off the beaten path", but you should definitely make plans for your paths to cross.
We hope you'll try recreating Ricardo's dishes in your own home. I can't wait to try his technique for the cashew crusted tofu as we eat a lot of tofu at my house and I've never had any that tasted as "non-tofu-like" as Ricardo's. Whether you're making these dishes from the Fat Cats kitchen or creating your own, we hope you'll show us how you're getting creative, turning the "ugly produce" we send you into beautiful, nutritious meals. Tag us @perfectlyimperfectproduce on Instagram and Facebook! When we're not featuring local restaurants once a month, we'll be featuring home cooks like you as well as some of our favorite local bloggers. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to be featured!
Thank you to Ricardo Sandoval and the entire team at Fat Cats for embracing this new approach to our recipe sharing here at PIP! We are so grateful for your hospitality and the time and energy it took to create these fantastic recipes that our customers now get to enjoy!
Photos by Karin McKenna.