Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Moosewood Thai Noodle Salad

The Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York is the stuff of vegetarian legend. I've never been to New York, but if I ever go, a stop at Moosewood is a must. One of my first — no, definitely my first — vegetarian cookbook was Mollie Katzen's The New Moosewood Cookbook. The Perfect Protein Salad from that book is one of my old vegan standards that I made often in the days when I only had a handful of vegetarian/vegan cookbooks.

In case you're not familiar, the Moosewood Restaurant was opened in the early 70s by a group of hippies. It's collectively owned and run on principles of shared support, mutual responsibility, and a lack of hierarchical structure. The cooks there are not classically trained. They're just people who love food. It sounds like my kind of place.

It's not totally vegan though. They do serve some cheese and fish, but there are vegan options. And the many volumes of Moosewood cookbooks published over the years have plenty of vegan recipes and many more can easily be converted by swapping out an ingredient or two. Their latest book, Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, is a massive 400-page tome of comfort food.

For my review, I wanted to try something naturally vegan, and it wasn't hard to find a vegan recipe. Flipping through, it looks like the majority of the recipes are, indeed, vegan. The fish stuff is only a small chapter that I'll just pretend isn't there.

I picked the Thai Noodle Salad.

This cold noodle salad is so flavorful! You can't see the sauce because it's made with coconut milk and tends to blend in with the pasta, but you can definitely taste the mixture of lime, coconut, rice vinegar, cilantro, garlic, scallion, and coriander. The pasta and sauce are tossed with sauteed red bell peppers, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and snow peas. The recipe called for asparagus, but I subbed snow peas because I couldn't find asparagus this time of year.

It was really tough narrowing this down to one meal. So much of this book is just mouth-watering — Moroccan Vegetable Stew, Country-Style Soft Tofu, Vegetable-Tofu Lasagna (it's vegan!), Confetti Kale Slaw, Muffuletta (with baked tofu), Creamy Vegan Rice Pudding, and Vegan Chocolate Cake.

I may not have the chance to visit the Moosewood Restaurant for years. But until then, I'll just use this book and pretend I'm there.


susan said...

It's a funny place because it's pretty low key. The food is just like the books, more homey than wowza.
It's also upstate New York so if you visit the farm sanctuary then you are within driving distance to Ithica.

Justin (Lotus Artichoke) said...

Hi Bianca! My brother and his family live in Ithaca, so whenever I visit, we always end up at Moosewood Restaurant. It's fun and nostalgic: Moosewood Cookbook was my first veg cookbook, too, and I've got great memories of my mom and I cooking stuff out of it decades ago. People can say whatever they want about Mollie, the restaurant, the menu, and her recipes... but Moosewood will always hold a special place in my heart. BTW, I'll have to check out this book next time I'm at a bookstore in the U.S. :)

Meg Travis-Carr said...

Hey Bianca! I'm a fellow Memphian who *just* returned from a 3 month internship with Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY. The experience was so incredible and hugely important and I can't recommend a visit to one of their 3 farms enough. It was exciting to see your cookbook on the shelves of their gift shop and know that the south is representing in a tasty and compassionate way! Needless to say, however, since I was in the area, I got to spend some time in Ithaca while I was up there, and while I didn't get a chance to visit Moosewood (next time... next time!!!), I was lucky enough to experience how vegan friendly the rest of the city is. Though there aren't any strictly vegan restaurants, I don't think I went anywhere without feeling that I had a plethora of delicious options to choose from. Viva Taqueria and Taste of Thai were two *delicious* restaurant options, and, for dessert, Purity is where it's at. Purity has amazing vegan ice cream options and I definitely just ate their vegan Hurricanes (think Dairy Queens blizzard) for dinner a handful of times. Also, the Ithaca Farmer's Market was a must. Memphis will always have my heart, but I've also found a new home and left a piece of my heart in Ithaca.

Thanks for keeping an awesome blog!