As executive chef at Greens, San Francisco's landmark vegetarian restaurant, Annie Somerville's tastes run to the refined but unfussy. Equally straightforward is her advice on planning a meatless holiday menu."It's not about finding a substitute for meat or fish," she says. "It's about combining beautiful produce and high-quality ingredients to make great food."
In her upcoming book, Everyday Greens (Scribner, New York, scheduled for spring 2003), Somerville hopes to convey that flavorful vegetarian food doesn't have to be complicated. This Thanksgiving menu is a good example: autumn root vegetables, leafy greens, hearty beans and grains, and seasonal fruit are deftly coaxed into simple dishes that are distinctive enough for the holiday table.
Start the meal by offering a casually assembled variety of flavors ― marinated vegetable salads, olives, a few special cheeses, and slices of artisan bread. Follow the selection of room-temperature appetizers with a warm spinach salad tossed with goat cheese, crisp Fuji apple slices, pumpkin seeds, and roasted sweet onions.
The centerpiece of the meal, a juicy autumn vegetable ragout with white beans, butternut squash, and kale, is served over a mound of soft polenta. Sweet pears and tart cranberries baked under a buttery crisp topping make a delicious ending to a meal from which nothing is missing.
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