As the desert winds usher in the first days of spring, we feel closer to Mother Earth, thankful for all that she does for us and more aware of our own solemn responsibilities for the health of the planet. In commemoration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22 this year, we single out four restaurants that have made a significant commitment to the environment. From sustainable farming and composting to installing solar panels and converting cooking oil to biodiesel fuel, they are at the forefront of our local chefs’ commitment to support the health of our planet. Who better to ask for a recipe to celebrate Earth Day?
Erin Wade, owner of Vinaigrette, opened Modern General this past February, a new take on a classic general store that offers an eclectic array of garden essentials, hardware and well, “general” items, as well as scrumptious food. Like Vinaigrette, which has locations in both Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Modern General strives to source local and organic ingredients, often using produce from Erin’s 10-acre Nambé farm. Keeping ingredients local and using sustainable farming practices is a crucial step in furthering the environmental movement.
Heirloom Purple Barley Porridge
6 ¼ cups water
1 cup heirloom purple barley
¾ teaspoon salt
Zest of 1 lemon
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼-½ cup whole milk
Organic brown sugar to taste
½ banana, sliced
Chopped almonds to taste
Soak the barley in 3 cups of water overnight. Drain barley the next day when you are ready to cook and add 3 ¼ cups of water to the soaked grain. Season with ¾ teaspoon of salt. Place barley in pan and bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat. Simmer for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until the barley is soft but firm. For the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid to boil off the excess liquid and add almost all of the lemon zest and the vanilla (save a little of the lemon zest for the topping). Add more salt to taste.
To serve, mound cooked barley in a bowl, top with brown sugar and whole milk, then banana and almonds. Top with remaining lemon zest.
Modern General is located at 637 Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. 505.930.5462. moderngeneralnm.com.
George Gundrey the owner of Tomasita’s, one of Santa Fe’s favorite spots for authentic New Mexican cuisine, is wholeheartedly committed to solar energy. In March 2014, the family-owned restaurant added high efficiency solar panels in its parking lot in order to reduce its carbon footprint. Renewable energy efforts such as this help lower the amount of toxic chemical emissions, resulting in cleaner air and a healthier Mother Earth.
Blue Corn Posole Stew
Posole (makes 4 quarts):
2 pounds blue corn
3-4 quarts water
2 ½ Tablespoons calcium hydroxide (usually available at Mexican specialty stores)
1 quart of prepared posole
1 pound diced pork
1 Tablespoon salt
6 ounces diced onions
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 teaspoon oregano
Red or green chile to taste
To prepare the posole, first thoroughly clean the blue corn. Try to get all of the loose skins and dust out. Rinse with water. Boil 3 to 4 quarts of water. Add the calcium hydroxide. Add the corn until it’s expanded and the outer hull pops open a bit. It will take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes to cook, and should be cooked just past al dente. Rinse it thoroughly.
Put the posole in quart bags (you should get about 4 quarts). Each quart should weigh about 2 pounds. Freeze until you are ready to make the stew.
To prepare the Blue Corn Posole Stew, boil your posole and pork with salt until the posole is cooked but not mushy. This will take over an hour, so many people use a pressure cooker. Saute onions, garlic and oregano in a separate pan. Add or remove water from the posole/pork mixture to desired consistency. Add sauteed onions, garlic and oregano to the posole. Adjust seasonings to taste. You may add green or red chile to the stew or you can serve it on the side.
Tomasita’s is located at 500 S. Guadalupe Street in Santa Fe. 505.983.5721. tomasitas.com.
Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café
With locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Annapurna’s has become a local favorite known for its organic, vegetarian cuisine—but it has a lot going on outside of the restaurant as well. Owner Yashoda Naidoo donates the cooking oil from all three locations to be converted into biodiesel fuel, a chemically refined oil that works as fuel for diesel engines, but with fewer emissions than regular diesel. Yet another great example of local initiatives by local chefs.
Pumpkin Pistachio Soup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pinch hing seasoning (optional)
1 ¼ cups shelled pistachios
1 small red chili pepper, finely chopped
2 stalks lemongrass
1 ½ pounds pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and chopped
⅛ teaspoon cloves
3 cups vegetable stock or water
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Add oil in pan with a pinch of hing. Roast the pistachios, red chili and lemongrass. Add the pumpkin, cloves and vegetable stock (or water). Reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Puree the soup. Garnish with cilantro.
Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café has three locations: 2201 Silver Ave. SE in Albuquerque, 505.262.2424; 5939 4th Street NW in Albuquerque, 505.254.2424; and 1620 St. Michael’s Drive in Santa Fe, 505.988.9688. chaishoppe.com.
On top of using locally grown, in-season ingredients, Sarah Hartford of Hartford Square works to reduce her restaurant’s carbon footprint by teaming up with Ironwood Farm, a chemical-free farm located in the South Valley of Albuquerque. Not only does Sarah use a lot of the farm’s produce in her delicious meals, the restaurant also sends its kitchen scraps to the farm each week, where they are used for composting and to feed the pigs.
Kale Salad with Lemon Dressing
1 pound kale (local mixed varieties are best), thick stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated pecorino romano or Parmesan cheese
½ cup slivered almonds
Place prepared kale in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together; this is your dressing. Toss kale with dressing and make sure the leaves are well covered. If they’re not, make a bit more dressing. If possible, make a few hours before serving and refrigerate to achieve the right texture (the kale should soak up the dressing and not seem as raw). Before serving, toss with cheese. Plate and sprinkle with slivered almonds.
Hartford Square is located at 300 Broadway Blvd. NE in Albuquerque. 505.265.4933. hartfordsq.com.
Story by Lily Carbone