Last year, my wife and I ate at Pure Food and Wine, a raw food restaurant in New York run by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melngailis (Kenney has since moved on and started a new restaurant). It was one of the most amazing dining experiences of our lives. We were blown away by the food, no other way to describe it.
Not to menion that Melngailis and Kenney are officially the two most beautiful people on the planet. I think they were made from some supermodel mold hidden deep in the forest, amongst the raw berries and mushrooms.
Raw Food, Real World, a raw food cookbook by Kenny and Melngailis, was released last year and is one I’ve been meaning to give more space to here. I reviewed it for Herbivore, but honestly, I haven’t had too much of a chance to make much from the book. However, tonight we made one of the dishes that we ate at the restaurant last year, a Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna with Basil-Pistachio Pesto, sun-dried tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta. Here’s what I had to say about the dish in the restaurant:
I savored every bite of the lasagna dish. The thinly sliced zucchini was a nice replacement for the standard pasta slices. The tomatoes were wonderfully fresh and flavorful, even in spring, and the pignoli (pine nut) ricotta was creamy, only slightly nutty, and a perfect compliment to the sun-dried tomato sauce. Needless to say that the pesto (a food that’s traditionally served raw) was flawless, given a nice twist by the use of pistachios.
After soaking the pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes for a few hours, and doing some vegetable chopping/slicing, the dish actually was pretty easy to make. And even with ingredients not exactly at the peak of freshness, the end result was still amazing. The individual components were incredible and the blend of flavors when eaten together was both fresh tasting and filling. Sure, it’s a little expensive to make with two cups of pine nuts, a package of sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of pistachios, but this is the perfect summertime dish to serve to guests, especially considering how much of it can be made ahead of time.
I look forward to making more from this book. The photography is gorgeous and makes me want to try it all. I’ve borrowed a dehydrater from my sister-in-law, so now all I need to do is pick up a few of the odd ingredients and learn how to hack apart a coconut. Then I’m good to go. I’d venture to say that Raw Food, Real World is the definitive gourmet raw food cookbook.
(Incidentally, the recipe for this dish is available in the middle of this interview with Sarma Melngailis.)