A Culinary Commitment
New York City’s Angelica Kitchen is a vegan restaurant on a mission

Text by Elisa Bosley
Recipes by Leslie McEachern and Amy Chaplin
Photos by Leigh Beisch
Food Stylist, Merilee Bordin; Prop Stylist, Sara Slavin

It’s early one autumn morning, and Leslie McEachern, a soft-spoken woman with a hint of North Carolina accent, nods admiringly as several bunches of deep blue-green kale and a cascade of fresh garlic heads pass from a farmer’s truck through Angelica Kitchen’s delivery doors. Although the city’s sidewalks and streets are still quiet, inside the restaurant anticipation for the day’s menu is as palpable as the crisp apples being sliced for today’s dessert.

Angelica Kitchen, an organic, vegan eatery, has been feeding New York City with food supplied by small-scale, local organic farms for nearly 30 years. Its purpose, guided by owner McEachern, remains steadfast: to provide good food while furthering a better future for planet Earth. It’s an ambitious yet appropriate stance for a place named for angelica, a flowering herb revered in the Middle Ages for its healing and protective powers.

The restaurant opened in the mid-1970s and quickly became a neighborhood gathering place for the East Village’s artists and bohemians eager to try vegan cuisine. “We concentrated on changing the food from that heavy, dense, seeds-and-sprouts-loaf style of vegetarian to a lighter, more attractive, rounded-out plate,” says McEachern. “People wanted to come to eat here because it was good, beautiful, and delicious food. That has always been part of the goal—to have people, no matter what their palate, come and be able to enjoy their food.”

McEachern’s commitment to organics was just as deep. “It became for me a mission,” she says quietly. “How can you take on the responsibility of feeding people and know that you’re feeding them toxins? I felt it was such a huge contradiction to serve food that was conventionally grown [with pesticides], especially in what’s called a natural foods restaurant.”

At Angelica Kitchen, the proof of its commitment to quality and to organics’ value and taste is in the pudding … and in the breads, salads, and soups. Here, McEachern offers a sampling of how her restaurant is making a daily impact—saving the Earth one bite at a time.

Apple, Cranberry, and Pecan Galette

Serves 8–10 / An elegant yet comforting dessert. If cranberries are not available, try substituting fresh blueberries; just stir them in when you add the toasted pecans, so they don’t bleed too much.

1 cup pecan halves
3-1/4 pounds tart apples
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, plus more for brushing phyllo
1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for brushing phyllo
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup maple sugar
1-1/2 cups cranberries, sorted and rinsed
5 sheets phyllo pastry dough, defrosted

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread pecans on a parchment-lined baking sheet; toast 7 minutes. Chop. Save parchment for baking galette.

2. Peel, core, and slice each apple into eight wedges. In a deep, wide sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons coconut oil. Add apples, 1/4 cup maple syrup, sea salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Stir to coat each apple wedge, cover pan, lower heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove cover, raise heat, and cook another 10 minutes or until apples are tender and liquid has cooked away. Stir in maple sugar and cranberries and cook until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Stir in chopped pecans. Remove from heat.

3. In a small saucepan, melt a little more coconut oil. Lightly oil the base of a 9-inch tart pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut phyllo sheets to make five 15-inch squares. Place 1 phyllo sheet on tart-pan base and brush with melted coconut oil. (Cover remaining sheets with a damp towel until ready to use.) Lay a second sheet of phyllo on top; again, brush with oil. Continue with remaining sheets. Be sure to brush the final sheet with oil.

4. Mound cooked apple mixture onto the dough in a circular shape. Fold up each dough corner to meet the apple filling. Draw up remaining edges and fold under about 1/4 inch, pleating as you go and forming a circular border about 1-1/2 inches wide. Brush phyllo with remaining melted oil and maple syrup. Bake galette until phyllo is puffed and golden brown, 35–45 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 317 calories
%fat calories: 40
Fat: 15g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 48g
Protein: 2g
Fiber: 6g
Sodium: 114mg

Baked Winter Squash with Heirloom Beans and Hominy

Serves 6 / Served grouped on a platter or on individual plates, this dish is a striking centerpiece for any festive table. Hominy, also known as posole, adds a nutty flavor and texture to the creamy beans. For convenience, the hominy and beans may be cooked in advance. In a pinch, canned beans will do; you’ll need about three cans total, and be sure to drain and rinse well.

1/2 cup dried whole hominy
2/3 cup dried anasazi or cannellini beans, sorted and rinsed
2/3 cup dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
2/3 cup dried yellow-eye beans or baby limas, sorted and rinsed
1 piece kombu (a sea vegetable), about 2 inches
2 whole bay leaves
6 winter squash (for example, acorn, carnival, or kabocha), about 1-1/4 pounds each
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus oil to brush squash
1 cup diced onion
Sea salt
1 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 4 large cloves)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup finely sliced fresh cilantro stems
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons tamari
1 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar

1. Thoroughly rinse hominy and soak overnight in 2 cups water.

2. Combine all the beans in a large bowl. Cover with water by 3 inches and soak overnight.

3. Place hominy and its soaking liquid in a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a gentle boil. Cook 2 hours or until tender. Set aside.

4. Drain and rinse beans; discard soaking water. Place beans in a saucepan; add water to cover by 1 inch, kombu, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; skim off any surface foam. Cover, reduce heat, and gently boil for at least 1 hour, or until beans and kombu are tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

5. Preheat oven to 400°. Cut 1-1/2 inches off the top (stem end) of each squash; save for garnish. If squash is too round to sit evenly on a surface, slice the bottom to level it off. Scoop out squash seeds and threads. Lightly oil top and bottom of each squash; sprinkle with salt. Turn squash upside down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.

6. Warm olive oil in a heavy 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté several minutes until translucent. Add a pinch of salt, peppers, carrots, and cherry tomatoes; sauté 8 minutes more. Stir in garlic, oregano, and cilantro stems. Add the hominy and cooking liquid, bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

7. Discard bay leaves and kombu from the beans. Add the beans to the vegetables and hominy; add reserved cooking liquid from beans, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is creamy. (If using canned beans, add water 1/2 cup at a time.) Raise heat and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro leaves, tamari, and umeboshi vinegar. Season with salt to taste. To serve, place squash on individual plates or a serving platter; fill generously with bean mixture. As a decorative touch, place tops on squash.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 510 calories
% fat calories: 14
Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 92g
Protein: 19g
Fiber: 24g
Sodium: 180mg

Marinated Kale

Serves 6 / Kale is an excellent source of calcium and iron, and it makes a lovely bed for the Baked Winter Squash with Heirloom Beans and Hominy to sit on.

1 bunch kale
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Remove tough stems from kale. Wash kale thoroughly and dry in a salad spinner. Slice crossways into 1-inch strips. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt; whisk to blend. Add kale and toss until leaves are coated. Serve immediately or store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 day

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 46 calories
% fat calories: 49
Fat: 3g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 5g
Protein: 1g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 375mg

Quinoa and Wild Rice

Serves 8 / An easy, nutritious side dish. Quinoa contains more calcium than milk, has the most protein of all the grains, and is the fastest grain to cook. The wild rice is strengthening for the kidneys and high in protein; here it adds nice color and texture to the quinoa.

1/2 cup wild rice
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3-1/2 cups water, divided
Pinch sea salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1-1/3 cups quinoa

1. Immerse wild rice in a bowl of cold water and scrub lightly with the palms of your hands; pour into a strainer to drain.

2. Combine drained wild rice, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 11/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt in a 2-quart saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer 45 minutes. (At 20 minutes, begin preparation of quinoa.)

3. While rice cooks, immerse quinoa in a bowl of cold water, scrub lightly with the palms of your hands for about 1 minute, then pour into a fine mesh strainer. Rinse under cold water; drain. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine 2 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon oil; bring to a boil over high heat. Add quinoa, cover, lower heat, and simmer 12 minutes. Remove from heat; with cover on, allow grain to steam 5–10 minutes. Remove cover and fluff grain with a fork.

4. When rice is done, pour into a strainer and drain. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl and gently stir in wild rice.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 164 calories
% fat calories: 22
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 27g
Protein: 5g
Fiber: 2g
Sodium: 175mg

Braised Seitan with Onions and Fresh Herbs

Serves 6 / Succulent, hearty, and wholesome, seitan is wheat gluten made from whole-wheat flour. This substantial main course provides abundant protein and is an ideal fall or winter meal. Serve atop mashed potatoes flavored with garlic and rosemary.

1-1/3 cups dry sourdough bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
2 pounds seitan
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 pounds onions, cut in 1/4-inch crescents
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, sage, or thyme
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons mirin or dry sherry
Vegetable stock or water

1. Preheat oven to 350°. In a shallow pie dish, combine bread crumbs and dried thyme, basil, and oregano. Slice seitan in 1/2-inch-thick pieces. Brush liberally with olive oil and dredge in crumb mixture. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. (Seitan is already cooked, so this merely crisps the bread-crumb coating.)

2. Combine onions, garlic, fresh herbs, salt, and pepper with olive oil in a 10-inch sauté pan. Cook over high heat until vegetables begin to sizzle. Reduce heat to low, add mirin or sherry, cover, and simmer for 20–30 minutes or until onions are very soft. Stir often to prevent sticking.

3. Spread half of the onion mixture on the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer seitan slices, then top with remaining onions. Add enough stock or water to barely cover onions. Bake, uncovered, until onions are lightly browned on top, 15 minutes.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 464 calories
% fat calories: 34
Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 1mg
Carbohydrate: 35g
Protein: 42g
Fiber: 6g
Sodium: 816mg

Mushroom-Cauliflower Soup with Roasted Shiitake and Nori Garnish

Serves 6–8 / This soup is simple to prepare and looks elegant with the contrasting garnish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 cups cubed button mushrooms
6 cups chopped cauliflower
5-1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar, or to taste

3 cups sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 sheet nori seaweed, cut into thin strips, about 2 inches long

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 4- to 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add onion and sea salt; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté a minute more. Add mushrooms and stir until coated with oil. Add cauliflower and water, cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

2. While soup cooks, toss sliced shiitakes with olive oil and sea salt. Spread mushrooms on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast 25 minutes.

3. In a blender, purée soup (in batches) until creamy. Transfer soup to a clean saucepan; place over medium heat. Add umeboshi vinegar and simmer 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

4. Just before serving, toss roasted mushrooms with nori strips. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Place small mounds of shiitake and nori garnish in the center of each bowl.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 138 calories
% fat calories: 57
Fat: 10g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 12g
Protein: 4g
Fiber: 5g
Sodium: 380mg

Red Cabbage and Caramelized Fennel

Serves 8 / This fragrant, tasty, and colorful dish brings alive an autumn or winter meal. Cabbage and fennel are anticarcinogenic, improve digestion, and are rich in antioxidants. Serve warm or at room temperature.

1-1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 medium fennel, with tops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus to taste
6 cups red cabbage, sliced into 1/4-inch strips (about 1/2 medium head)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin>

1. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, toast fennel seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to a clean coffee mill; grind to a powder. Set aside.>

2. Trim top and bottom of fennel; reserve fronds in a bowl of cold water for later use. Core fennel; slice bulbs into 1/4-inch slices.

3. In a deep, wide sauté pan over medium heat, warm the oil; add sliced fennel and salt. Sauté 10 minutes, or until fennel begins to caramelize. Add the red cabbage, water, and apple cider vinegar. Raise heat to high to bring to a quick boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 20 minutes. Uncover and stir in the mirin and ground fennel seeds. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally until liquid evaporates. Remove from heat.

4. Just before serving, roughly chop reserved fennel fronds; stir into cabbage mixture. Salt to taste.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Calories: 65 calories
% fat
calories: 49
Fat: 4g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Carbohydrate: 7g
Protein: 2g
Fiber: 1g
Sodium: 308mg

Recipes contributed by Angelica Kitchen owner Leslie McEachern and kitchen chef Amy Chaplin. Braised seitan recipe reprinted with permission from The Angelica Home Kitchen by Leslie McEachern (Ten Speed Press, 2003).